Refining aims and objectives

giphy.gifLooking for aims and objectives in course books

The courses in my school do not have a course outline, the teachers structure the course around the course book and adapt and supplement it to the needs and interests of the students. Is this the same for anyone else? Anyway, in most of the exam based books I failed to find anything but a list of items to be learnt. I wonder why this is, could it be because the objectives are set by the CEFR? I did manage to find some aims in the teacher’s book for an FCE book, but no aims for the learners in the student’s book. On the other hand, in Messages, a pre-intermediate book aimed at younger learners, there were aims and objectives in the student’s book but not in the teacher’s. The aims and objectives were labelled You study (aims) and So that you can do (objectives).

Where I looked for help

Some thoughts from Scott Thornbury’s A-Z of ELT

Aims

https://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/a-is-for-aims/

Outcomes

https://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/o-is-for-outcomes/

Objectives are not included 

I found this page that helped me identify the aims and objectives in the Messages book.

http://www.efl.elearning-burkina.com/pedagogy-and-didactics/56-aims-and-objectives.html

Then I started to question the difference between objectives and outcomes and found this

http://www.ica-sae.org/trainer/english/p4.htm

But still a bit unsure on this. I think I found the answer I like in Moon, J. (2002) as explained below.

Original aims and objectives from learning event (lesson)

Messages: Pre-intermediate A2.2

As written in student’s book

You study: names of everyday routines and link words. (aims)

So that you can: talk about everyday routines and write about your average day. (objective)

These aims and objectives have obviously been simplified so that the learners can understand them. I will therefore reword them slightly from a teacher’s perspective without changing the meaning.

Aims

The learners will study the names of everyday routines and linking words.

Objectives/outcomes

By the end of the lesson the learners will be able to talk about everyday routines and write about their average day.

Revision thinking

Aims

The learners will study the names of everyday routines and linking words.

Moon, J. (2002, p.62) Aims are related to teaching intention, outcomes related to learning and objectives are often written in the terms of both and are therefore confusing.

If aims are an intention, then we need to change ‘will study’ to perhaps ‘will be introduced to’.

Objectives/outcomes

By the end of the lesson the learners will be able to talk about everyday routines and write about their average day.

Moon, J. (2002, p.64) outlines three elements for writing outcomes; A verb (‘what the learner will be able to do), A word (that indicates on what and with what the learner is acting’) and a word (indicating the nature in context and standard).

  • So in the example: the verbs .. and write… about routines/average day are in place.
  • The ‘on what and with what’ could be routines and their average day.
  • However, it would also appear that the nature in terms of standard is missing. Therefore ‘will be able’ could be replaced by ‘will be better able’.

Final revised aims and objectives/outcomes

Aims

The learners will be introduced to the names of everyday routines and linking words.

Or… To raise awareness of lexis related to everyday routines and linking devices.

Objectives/outcomes

By the end of the lesson the learners will be better able to talk about everyday routines and write about their average day.

In reference to SOLO levels

The outcomes of this learning event seem to be limited to quantitative: pre-structural/uni-structural and multi-structural demonstrations of learning. Perhaps the writing section could be considered relational as they put everything together. However, opportunities for extended abstract are absent, unless you consider students applying the lexis to their own lives.

solo.gif

Image source: http://ar.cetl.hku.hk/images/solo.gif

In reference to constructive alignment

If later assessment of this lexis takes the form of a gap fill or multiple choice exercise students might try to memorise the items rather than truly understand their use and context. Biggs, J. (2003 p.1). However, in this lesson the outcomes are a piece of writing (perhaps it should be an email or something to give it context) which could lead to more individualised ‘constructed’ examples of understanding. (p.2).

Constructive alignment seems to dovetail into backward design (p.2) (correct me if I’m wrong).

What is a more desirable outcome? Being able to complete a multiple choice test or  having a personal understanding of how they can use the language for real-life tasks? If I want the second one this is going to completely change the aims statement above.

10037420373_6147990b30_b.jpg

Image source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3815/10037420373_6147990b30_b.jpg

In reference to Bloom’s taxonomy

To be honest I have a limited understanding of Bloom’s taxonomy. the only thing I am familiar with is this pyramid. My understanding of this image is that there is often little opportunity to engage in the top three categories. In other words, our systems of education tend to focus on the bottom three most of the time. This could possibly be because of misguided outcomes or assessment procedures. As our society and workplace becomes ever more participatory, it would seem that this imbalance needs to be addressed.

Bloomtaxonomy-e1445435495371.jpg

image source: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/59/Bloomtaxonomy-e1445435495371.jpg

References

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2 thoughts on “Refining aims and objectives

  1. I would like to see more objectives and aims for the teacher too in coursebooks if we are obliged to use them.

    Or at least I would like to see in the intro a bit by the writers about why their coursebook is different from others/previous editions and how they approached the syllabus and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally agree, for the price of most teacher’s books it would be nice to see a bit of rationale behind the activities. I sometimes wonder whether there is an effective language learning approach behind a lot of Cambridge exam books, they just seem to replicate the exam most of the time.

    Like

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