The characteristics of appropriately worded behavioral objectives and the advantages for curriculum design and implementation of a clear specification of objectives in advance of any teaching or testing have been articulated by a number of people, for example, Mager, Popham, and Sullivan. Essentially, a behavioral objective is a statement or description of intent. It is not, however, a statement of what a teacher intends to do, but rather, a statement of what the teacher intends that the student will be able to do or produce at the conclusion of some period of instruction.
A properly stated behavioral objective must describe without ambiguity the nature of learner behavior or product to be measured. Two major advantages are claimed for behavioral objectives. First, they provide clear end points toward which all can strive; and second, because they focus on expected terminal performance of students (what students are expected to be able to do), they suggest methods of assessing the extent to which objectives have been realized. The apparent logic of such an approach is obvious to all; to argue against behavioral objectives would seem to be to argue for ambiguity, if not irrationality. Nevertheless, a number of people have drawn attention to some of the difficulties and possible hazards of the approach, for example, Atkin,5 Eisner,6 and this author. It is not my intention here to go over old ground; however, I do wish to draw attention to some very serious dangers in evaluating programs from the simple instructional model implied in the behavioral approach.