Writing Objectives, Executive Summaries, Criterion Referenced Testing, Goals for the First Team Meeting, and Stages of Team Growth

To: Adult Education and Training Colleagues

From: Roger Hiemstra

Subj: Writing Objectives in Different Ways

Better understanding different philosophical frameworks or learning theories might help you (or even confuse you) in the development of objectives. The prevailing type of objective for many of the common instructional design systems is one written in behavioral, performance, or competency terms. However, you should be able to develop objectives or goals written in other ways, too, as either your own philosophical views or adherence to a learning theory or even an organizational representative's prevailing views may dictate alternative approaches. Again, this is something with which you must wrestle as you develop yourself professionally. At any rate, I have suggested different ways that objectives can be written below. I have not yet wrestled sufficiently with the endeavor, but it gives you some beginning ideas of the differences. My thanks to Dr. Paul Blair, an Elmira College faculty member, for giving me some initial feedback on the objectives. I welcome your feedback, too, if you are so moved.

Objectives Written From Different Philosophical Orientations


Stemming from empiricism and positivism, this philosophical orientation emphasizes the importance of the environment in shaping any desired behaviors. As you know, behaviorism has contributed greatly to the development of systematic instructional design models. A learner or trainee has learned something if there is a change in behavior and the learned behaviors or responses occur again under similar circumstances. Follow is an example of an objective written from this philosophical orientation:

At the end of presentations and discussions of philosophical systems, each learner (choosing 4a) will be able to produce by March 15 a 1-3 page personal philosophy statement that incorporates concepts of at least one of the philosophical systems.


Developed primarily from the ideas of John Dewey, this orientation stresses an experiential, problem-solving approach to learning endeavors. The prior experiences and active involvement of a learner are important in determining learning problems, instructional solutions, and learning outcomes. A learner or trainee becomes the center of the learning process and the trainer, teacher, or instructional designer in some way facilitates this learner centeredness. Following is an example of an objective written from this orientation:

If the learner has a need to develop a personal philosophy statement, the process of reflective inquiry will be enhanced and the value of the learner's contributions to society will be enhanced by the writing of a statement of this nature.


Constructivist assume that there are multiple ways of understanding knowledge and that reality is created by an individual. Knowledge therefore becomes a personal interpretation of the interactions a person has with the world. The learner's role is one of constructing reality through interactions with the environment and teachers create an environment in which learners can interact. Following is an example of an objective written from this orientation:

My understanding of my interactions with the environment and the way I interpret reality may be enhanced by an understanding and writing of my personal philosophy.


Liberalism stresses the development of a mind's intellectual powers. Learning is good or necessary for learning's sake. Thus, emphases are placed on content mastery on the part of the learner and each learner has a responsibility to develop their potential through such mastery. The educator or trainer is viewed as an expert or authority that must impart that knowledge. Following is an example of an objective written from the liberalism viewpoint:

There is a body of knowledge surrounding the study of philosophy. It is the learner's responsibility to gain all the knowledge necessary for creating a personal statement of philosophy; creating such a statement will enhance the learner's potential as a contributing member of society.


Humanism is based on the assumption that human nature is essentially positive and that each person possesses unlimited potential. Emphasis is placed on personal growth and self-directed learning ability. The learner's role is one of accepting increasing personal responsibility for growth and development. Teachers or trainers serve as facilitators by guiding any learning processes, finding necessary learning resources, and removing barriers to learning. Following is a corresponding objective:

My understanding of philosophical models and their relevance to my own growth and development will be enhanced by the writing of my personal philosophy.


Radicalism stresses the role of education or learning as means for bringing about social change. Education therefore becomes a vehicle whereby social, political, and economic oppression can be combatted. Consciousness raising, critical thinking, and social action become important goals in the educational process and learners through their autonomy accept personal responsibility for being able to attain such goals. Teachers coordinate but do not direct appropriate learning activities. Following is an objective developed from this philosophical orientation:

My ability to affect social change may be strengthened as I come to know and understand my philosophical position as well as the philosophical position of society's oppressors. Such knowledge can be enhanced by the writing of a personal philosophy statement.

You can design one from a constructivist view point.

Objectives Written From Different Learning Theories

Subject Centered/Pedagogical

The pedagogical theory is based on a notion the learning requires a general awareness of knowledge. A manipulation of the learning environment is necessary to support the presentation of appropriate knowledge. Learners are assumed to be passive, even reluctant learners and the role of the teacher is to provide knowledge on various subjects or direct knowledge acquisition usually in didactic modes. Following is an objective appropriate for this learning theory:

It is important that learners know about various philosophical orientations so they can use such knowledge in their professional work. One way of enhancing such understanding is the derivation of a personal statement of philosophy.

Objectives Centered/Behavioral

(see behaviorism)

Experience Centered/Cognitive

The cognitive learning theory assumes that each person interprets external events as they are encountered and eclectically incorporates them into a classification scheme. In essence, this theory assumes that learning occurs as insights into life are obtained. Learners or trainees are assumed to be active participants in any learning events or activities and teachers or trainers provide an environment that is suitable for learning to take place. Following is a related objective:

Learners can interpret the different philosophical orientations based on their personal experiences and develop a corresponding statement of philosophy that will fit their interpretation of the world.

Opportunity Centered/Developmental/Andragogical

An important assumption basic to this theory is that learning takes place based on individual needs. Such learning often is of a problem-centered nature. Learners within this theoretical framework are seen as active, eager participants who are very capable of developing their self-directed learning skills. Teachers are seen as facilitators of learning processes and encouragers of such self-directed learning development. A related objective is as follows:

My potential to work effectively as a professional will be enhanced as I develop and periodically update a personal statement of philosophy.

Social Learning Theory (For those of you who like Bandura's work)

Social learning theory is based on an assumption that a person learns from observations of others without having to imitate those people. In essence, people regulate their own behavior to some extent by visualizing potential consequences of their actions. Learners therefore use observations and critical reflections on those observations to acquire and assimilate new knowledge or behaviors. Teachers can serve as models of such behaviors or the promoters of relevant knowledge. An objective written with the social learning theory in mind is as follows:

The learner/participant obtains a philosophical orientation that evolves from societal interactions and experiences.


To: Adult Education and Training Colleagues

From: Roger Hiemstra

Subj: An Executive Summary

An executive summary is a concise description of a project that easily and quickly conveys necessary information. Many managers, colleagues, and/or members of the public will expect such an informational piece attached to projects, products, or reports. It usually is the first piece read and, sometimes, will be the only piece read before an interested reader skips to a methods section, the results, and/or budget information. Thus, it must grab the attention, tell the story, and include enough information so that a reader has adequate knowledge on which to base judgements or make decisions.

Therefore, I recommend that you take considerable care in the development of an executive summary. It should be written accurately and well, it should be in a one to three page format if at all possible, and it should contain attention drawing devices where appropriate, such as bullets, italics, bold face print, attractive fonts, etc.

Following are some suggested headings to consider as you develop an executive summary for your IDE 632 instructional product:

1. A summary paragraph that encapsulates the entire product, including a product name, who the product is for, a description of the product, and other administrative information you deem important.

2. The product's purpose or intent.

3. A brief description of the theoretical or organizational model used to guide the planning process.

4. A brief summary of the needs that served as a basis for the product.

5. A brief summary of the goals and/or objectives derived from the needs that served to guide the instructional development process.

6. A brief description of the procedures employed during the product development efforts (meetings with clients, type of instructional analysis used, etc.).

7. A brief summary of the various evaluative procedures (formative, summative, prototype testing, revisions, etc.) employed during the design efforts.

8. Any concluding statement that makes sense given the nature of the instructional product (time management efforts, budgetary information, etc.).


To: Adult Education and Training Colleagues

From: Roger Hiemstra

Subj: Criterion Referenced Testing

Here are some thoughts pertaining to criterion or objective referenced testing. If you look at the behaviorally based Dick and Carey model, there really are three distinct phases or components where some evaluative activities take place (although you actually are making evaluative decisions throughout the process). Other instructional design models will have similar steps.

1. The first of these is the development of criterion-referenced test items. Here the assumptions are made that (a) once you have determined (written) your instructional (or learning) objectives, (b) and thereby explicated specific behaviors expected of learners after they have completed some part of the learning experience, then (c) you need to develop some system of or for measuring those specific behaviors. [NOTE: Herein lies, in my view and from my philosophical framework, one of the biggest limitations of a purely behavior-based model; that is the fact that when you attempt to direct learners toward a very specific behavior and then measure accordingly, the variances possible in human behavior are not allowed for very well.] That is where the development of criterion-referenced test items comes in. Rather than such items being a true formative evaluation tool (although in many respects you will obtain formative information just in the process of trying to create such items), they are more a way of assessing how well the learner does measured against the specific objective (the objective might be that a learner will be able to choose the correct screen or procedure on an ASKEric type project and the criterion referenced test would be some actual performance that is either correct or incorrect--then there could be a feedback loop to relearn the screen choices or an inability to proceed factor could force new learning).

2. The second is formative evaluation where you gather input (information) during your various developmental activities which, in turn, are utilized to enhance or improve instructional effectiveness. In essence, you are obtaining feedback to help you with appropriate revision efforts so your "final" product is enhanced and less likely to need extensive revisions after its initial use. Feedback from experts, pilot-tests, field trials, participant observations, data from attitudinal questionnaires, and even debriefing initial users are all ways of obtaining formative information.

3. Summative evaluation, the third major source of information you can obtain, involves the collection of information pertaining to how effective the instructional product actually is with the intended or primary audience. No matter how much work you do based on the first two sources of evaluative information, no product will be "perfect" when it is initially used with "regular" learners. Thus, a good instructional designer should develop a procedure whereby information on use and resulting performance change can be gathered. In many ways, designing a summative evaluation procedure is like planning a major research effort. You determine what you want to measure, build the appropriate data collection tools, gather information, analyze the results, and report results that typically include recommendations for future action regarding the product (its use, redesign, etc.). The Dick and Carey text as well as many other sources you may have obtained various courses should be very helpful in better understanding this information source.

Reference: Dick, W., & Carey, L. (1996). The systematic design of instruction (Fourth Edition). New York: Harper Collins.


To: Adult Education and Training Colleagues

From: Roger Hiemstra

Subj: Goals for the First Team Meeting

A. Team-building goals

1. Get to know each other

2. Learn to work as a team

3. Work out decision-making issues

4. Determine support service availability (word processing, photocopying, layout, etc.)

5. Set meeting ground rules

6. Begin to build the team leadership

7. Begin to establish roles

B. Production/progress goals

1. Set an agenda

2. Review goals and purposes

3. Establish future action needs/plans

4. Plan for future meetings

C. Assessment/evaluation goals

1. Determine if there is any unfinished business or any unmet needs

2. Ensure clarity exists for all members

3. Seek mutual agreements by all members on future tasks

4. Determine if there are problems or difficulties

Adapted from Scholtes, P. R. (1988). The team handbook. Madison, WI: Joiner Associates.

To: Adult Education and Training Colleagues

From: Roger Hiemstra

Subj: Stages of Team Growth

Stage 1: Forming

Forming can include these feelings:

1. Excitement, anticipation, and optimism

2. Pride in being a part of the team

3. Initial, tentative attachment to the team

4. Suspicion, fear, and anxiety about the tasks ahead

Forming can include these behaviors:

1. Attempts to define tasks

2. Attempts to define individual and group behaviors

3. Decisions on what information needs to be obtained

4. Lofty, abstract discussions of issues; or, for some members, impatience with such discussions

5. Discussion of problems/issues not relevant to the task

6. Difficulty in identifying relevant problems

7. Complaints about the organization and barriers to the task

Stage 2: Storming

Storming can include these feelings:

1. Resistance to the task and to quality improvement efforts

2. Sharp fluctuations in attitude about the team and the project's chance of success

Storming can include these behaviors:

1. Arguing among members even when they agree on the real issue

2. Defensiveness and competition; factions or cliques

3. Questioning the wisdom of those who found the project or the process of selecting team members

4. Establishing unrealistic goals; concern about excessive work

5. Disunity, increased tension, and jealousy

Stage 3: Norming

Norming can include these feelings:

1. A new ability to express criticism constructively

2. Acceptance of membership in the team

3. Relief that it seems everything is going to work out

Norming can include these behaviors:

1. An attempt to achieve harmony by avoiding conflict

2. Increasing friendliness, confidence in each other, and sharing of personal issues

3. Establishing and maintaining team ground rules and boundaries

Stage 4: Performing

Performing can include these feelings:

1. Increasing insights into personal and group processes

2. Better understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses

3. Satisfaction at the team's progress

Performing can include these behaviors:

1. Constructive self-change

2. Ability to prevent or work through group problems

3. Close attachment to the team

Adapted from Scholtes, P. R. (1988). The team handbook. Madison, WI: Joiner Associates.


Created January 1, 2009

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