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Chhaapptteerr 55:: C

5.0 Introduction
5.1 The curriculum
development process
5.2 Models of curriculum
5.2.1 Tylers model
5.2.2 Tabas model
5.2.3 Alexander & Taylors
5.3 Goals of Education
5.4 Levels of goals
5.4.1 Educational philosophy
5.4.2 Education goals
5.4.3 Curriculum goals
5.4.4 Curriculum objectives

5.4.5 Instructional goals

5.4.6 Instructional objectives
5.5 Instructional objectives or
learning outcomes
5.6 Classifying instructional
objectives or learning
5.6.1 Cognitive domain
5.6.2 Affective domain
5.6.3 Psychomotor domain
Discussion Questions

When you complete this module you will be able to:
Describe Tylers model of curriculum development
Explain the features of Tabas curriculum development model
Describe the Saylor and Alexander model
Compare the Tyler, Taba and the Saylor & Alexander models
Differentiate between the levels of educational goals
Compare the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains
Formulate objectives using the different taxonomies.

Ethics, moral
education, religious

Drug prevention, road safety


Language &

National unity, racial

tolerance, citizenship

Science and technology,

Environmental education
How can we help children make sense of these?

[Source: adaptation of www.freeclipart.com]

5.0 Introduction

In Module 2, 3 and 4, we discussed how philosophy, psychology, society and history

events influence curriculum. In Modules 5, 6, 7 and 8, we will examine the different
phases of the curriculum development process. The first phase is curriculum planning
followed by curriculum design, curriculum
implementation and curriculum evaluation. In
this chapter we examine in general the
curriculum development process by referring
to three well-known curriculum development
model; namely, the Tyler model, the Taba
model and the Saylor & Alexander model. In
the second part of the chapter, we focus on the
first phase of the process namely, curriculum
planning which involves establishing the goals
and objectives of a curriculum based on the
agreed educational philosophy.
[Source: www.iconandclipart.com]

1. What is the message of the cartoon?
2. How far is this characteristic of your education system?

5.1 The Curriculum Development Process

Curriculum is the foundation of the teaching-learning process whether it is a
school, college, university or training organisation. The textbooks used, how teachers
are trained, development of instructional plans, evaluation of students, preparation of
guides for both students and teachers, and setting of standards, are all based on the
curriculum. Thus without a curriculum no educational institution can function
efficiently. Given such importance to curriculum a number of questions are raised.
How is it developed? How is it organised? Who develops it? What are the principles
in developing a curriculum? How do we know whether the curriculum is successful?
Curriculum is a plan for ordering and directing the teaching-learning
experiences that students encounter in an educational institution. The process of
providing the plan and keeping it running smoothly is known as curriculum
development. Curriculum development is the more comprehensive term, which
includes planning (determination of aims and goals), design, implementation and
evaluation. Since curriculum development implies change and betterment, curriculum
improvement is often used synonymously with curriculum development, though in
some cases improvement is viewed as the result of development (Oliva, 1982).
Curriculum development is a process that continuously strives to find newer, better
and more efficient means to accomplish the task of educating the next generation.
5.2 Models of Curriculum Development
What is a model? A model consist of interacting parts that serves as a guide or
procedures for action. Some models are simple while others are very complex. In
many instances, models are more similar that different and are often refinements or
revisions of earlier models. There are many models of curriculum development, but in
this chapter, we will discuss three well-known models: the Tyler Model, the Taba
Model and the Saylor & Alexander Model. Each of these models is named after their
5.2.1 The Tyler Model
One of the best known curriculum models is The Tyler Model introduced in
1949 by Ralph Tyler in his classic book Basic Principles of Curriculum and
Instruction in which he asked 4 questions:
1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain
these purposes?
3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organised?
4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?

In essence, Tylers questions represent the four-step sequence of (1)

identifying purposes or objectives, (2) selecting the means for the attainment or
achievement of these objectives i.e. what educational or teaching-learning experiences
have to be provided for students, (3) organising these educational or teaching-learning
experiences, and (4) evaluating the outcomes or what have students attained or
achieved. By purposes, Tyler was referring to objectives and when developing
curriculum objectives data should be gathered from three sources, namely; the subject
area (eg. science, mathematics, geography, history), the learners (eg. economically
disadvantaged, gifted, varying academic abilities) and society (eg. ethics, patriotism,
national unity, environmental awareness, employment, market needs). Figure 5.1
presents Tylers model of curriculum development.
After identifying the objectives (which are the desired learning outcomes), the
curriculum developer has to pass them through two screens: the philosophy screen
and the psychology screen. Resulting from this are specific instructional objectives
which state the kind of outcomes that are observable are measurable. The next step is
the selection of educational experiences which enable the attainment of the stipulated
objectives. The learning experiences have to take into account the previous
experiences learners bring to a situation. The learning experiences will have to be
selected based on what is known about human learning and human development.
Next, Tyler talked about the organisation and sequencing of these learning
experiences. He emphasised that the experiences should be properly organised so as
to enhance learning and suggested that ideas, concept, values and skills be used as
organising elements woven into the curriculum. These elements would serve as
organisers linking content within a particular subject (eg. history, economics, science)
and also determine the method of instruction or delivery of content. [We will discuss
curriculum design in more detail in module 6].
Finally, Tyler proposed that evaluation should be an important part of the
curriculum development process. It was necessary for educators to know whether the
selected learning experiences produced the intended results. For example, if the
objective is to develop critical thinking among students, did the learning experiences
selected achieve this objective. Through evaluation it will be possible to determine
whether the curriculum was effective or ineffective. [We will discuss curriculum
evaluation in more detail in Module 8].
There is no denying that Tylers thinking has greatly influenced the field of
curriculum, especially curriculum development. The four questions that he raised had
and still have great appeal because it is very reasonable and workable. Despite much
criticism of the model as being too linear, that is, cause and effect, there is no denying
that his thinking continues to be popular (Ornstein and Hunkins, 1998).
1) What is the role of objectives in Tylers model?
2) Why do objectives have to be screened by philosophy and
3) Give 3 specific examples of learning experiences
according to the Tyler Model,
4) What are elements? Give specific examples
5) What is the purpose of evaluation?

Curriculum Planning







Selection of




Organisation of

Curriculum Design



Figure 5.1 Tylers Curriculum Development Model

[Source: adapted from Allan C. Ornstein & Francis P. Hunkins, Curriculum: Foundations,
Principles and Issues, (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998), p.198.]

5.2.2 The Taba Model

Another approach to curriculum development was proposed by Hilda Taba in
her book Curriculum Development: Theory and Practice published in 1962. She
argued that there was a definite order in creating a curriculum. She believed that
teachers, who teach the curriculum, should participate in developing it which led to
the model being called the grass-roots approach. She noted 7 major steps to her
grass-roots model in which teachers would have major input (see Figure 5.2). She was
of the opinion that the Tyler model was more of an administrative model. The Tyler
model involved too much top-down decision making, The greater portion of
curriculum decisions were made by administrators in the Central Office or the
Ministry of Education.
Taba felt that a curriculum should be designed by the users of the programme.
Teachers should begin the process by creating specific teaching-learning units for
their students. She advocated that teachers take an inductive approach to curriculum
development. This meant starting with the specifics and building toward a general

design This was just the opposite to the more traditional deductive approach which
starts with the general design and than working toward the specifics.

Teacher Input


Diagnosis of
of Learning


of Objectives

Selection of

Selection of

of Content

Teacher Input
Figure 5.2 Tabas Curriculum Development Model
Taba proposed 7 major steps to her grass-roots model in which teachers would have
major input throughout the curriculum development process:
1. Diagnosis of need: The teacher who is also the curriculum designer starts the
process by identifying the needs of students for whom the curriculum is
planned. For example, the majority of students are unable to think critically.
2. Formulation of objectives: After the teacher has identified needs that require
attention, he or she specifies objectives to be accomplished.

3. Selection of content: The objectives selected or created suggest the subject

matter or content of the curriculum. Not only should objectives and content
match, but also the validity and significance of the content chosen needs to be
determined. i.e. the relevancy and significance of content.
4. Organisation of content: A teacher cannot just select content, but must
organise it in some type of sequence, taking into consideration the maturity of
learners, their academic achievement, and their interests. [We will discuss
curriculum design in more detail in Module 6].
5. Selection of learning experiences: Content must be presented to students and
students must be engaged with the content. At this point, the teacher selects
instructional methods that will involve the students with the content.
6. Organisation of learning activities: Just as content must be sequenced and
organised, so must the learning activities. Often, the sequence of the learning
activities is determined by the content. But the teacher needs to keep in mind
the particular students whom he or she will be teaching.
7. Evaluation and means of evaluation: The curriculum planner must determine
just what objectives have been accomplished. Evaluation procedures need to
be designed to evaluate learning outcomes. [We will discuss curriculum
evaluation in more detail in Module 8].
Taba model has much merit. However, some argue that teacher involvement
throughout the process assumes that they have the expertise and, perhaps more
importantly, the time to engage in such an extensive and intensive curricular activity.
Teachers being involved in the early stages of curriculum development may not
necessarily be an advantage as it will not necessarily guarantee an effective
curriculum since it is a highly specialised process.
However, it cannot be denied that curriculum development requires the
involvement of many parties at various stages of the process. It involves individuals
from the Central Office or the Ministry of Education, district education officers,
principals, teachers, community leaders, subject matter experts, academics and even
students. Usually, curriculum developers at the Central Office are given the task of
directing those actions that bring together various participants in curriculum
development. Teachers may only be involved in implementing the curriculum while
the main part of the curriculum is determined by the Ministry of Education,
academics, content specialists and employers.
1) Explain why Tabas model is called the grass-roots model
2) Do you think teachers should be the main decision makers
in the development of a curriculum? Why?
3) To what extent are teachers involved in developing
curriculum in your country?

5.2.3 The Saylor and Alexander Model

Galen Saylor and William Alexander (1974) viewed curriculum development
as consisting of four steps (Figure 5.3). According to them, curriculum is a plan for
providing sets of learning opportunities to achieve broad educational goals and related
specific objectives for an identifiable population served by a single school centre

Bases (external variables)

Goals, objectives
and domains





Figure 5.3 Saylor and Alexanders Curriculum Development Model

a) Goals, Objectives and Domains: The model indicates that curriculum planners
begin by specifying the major educational goals and specific objectives they
wish to accomplish. Each major goal represents a curriculum domain and they
advocate 4 major goals or domains: personal development, human relations,
continued learning skills and specialisation. The goals, objectives and domains
are selected after careful consideration of several external variables such as
findings from educational research, accreditation standards, views of
community groups and others.
b) Curriculum Designing: Once the goals, objectives and domains have been
established, planners move into the process of designing the curriculum. Here
decision is made on the appropriate learning opportunities for each domain
and how and when these opportunities will be provided. Will the curriculum
be designed along the lines of academic disciplines, or according to student
needs and interests or along themes? These are some of the questions that need
to be answered at this stage of the development process [We will discuss
curriculum design in more detail in Module 6].
c) Curriculum Implementation: After the designs have been created the next step
is implementation of the designs by teachers. Based on the design of the
curriculum plan teachers would specify instructional objectives and then select
relevant teaching methods and strategies to achieve the desired learning

outcomes among students in the classroom [We will discuss curriculum

implementation in more detail in Module 7].
d) Evaluation: Finally, curriculum planner and teachers engage in evaluation.
The model proposed that evaluation should be comprehensive using a variety
of evaluation techniques. Evaluation should involve the total educational
programme of the school and the curriculum plan, the effectiveness of
instruction and the achievement of students. Through the evaluation process,
curriculum planner and developers can determine whether or nor the goals of
the school and the objectives of instruction have been met. [We will discuss
curriculum evaluation in more detail in Module 8].

1) What is meant by domains in the Saylor and Alexander
2) What must teachers do to implement a curriculum?
3) What is the role of evaluation in the Saylor and Alexander

The three models just discussed reveal both similarities and differences. All
models outline a sequence of steps to be taken in curriculum development.
Interestingly, the Taba model emphasises the role of teachers in curriculum
development while the Tyler model focuses on the two screens objectives have to
pass through. However, you should keep in mind that models often are incomplete;
they do not and cannot show every detail and aspect of the complicated curriculum
process. To depict every aspect in detail of the curriculum development process
would require an exceedingly complex and intricate model.
In looking at the three models we cannot say that any one model is superior to
another model. Some curriculum planners have followed the Tyler model with
considerable success. But this does not mean that the Tyler model represents the
ultimate in models for curriculum development or that all educators are satisfied with
5.3 Goals of Education
The cartoon at the beginning of this chapter shows the kinds of decisions that
curriculum workers have to make in some education system somewhere in the world.
Some decisions are relatively simple such as adding a course, deleting a course or
making some minor changes to content. Other decisions are sweeping and farreaching such as changing the levels of schooling from 6-3-2-2 (six years of primary
or elementary school, three years of lower secondary, two years of upper secondary
and two years pre-university or matriculation) to 6-4-2 (six years of primary or
elementary school, four years of secondary and two years of pre-university or
matriculation). How does one decide? All the three models of curriculum
development emphasised the need from the onset to plan statements of purpose of the
education system. What do you want students to be able to do after completing
primary school or after completing secondary school?

In Chapter 2, we discussed the views of various Western and Eastern

philosophers on what they thought the school should be and aim to achieve. In
Chapter 3, we discussed various psychological explanations of human learning which
provide guidelines as to what students will be able to achieve and how they should be
taught. In Chapter 4, we examined what society demands of its education system
providing some insight into what schools should aspire. Based on these sources, the
curriculum planner will have to decide on an education philosophy from which the
goals of education may be derived.
5.4. Levels of Goals
Goals can be written at several levels of generality involving many curriculum
workers such as teachers, subject specialists, academics, principals, teacher trainers,
administrators and others who may be engaged in curriculum efforts on several levels
at the same time (see Figure 5.4). The model flows from a broad and wide educational
philosophy to the more specific instructional objectives implemented at the classroom
5.4.1 Educational philosophy
The initial task of curriculum planners is identification of an educational
vision or philosophy which will form the basis of planning. It reflects the desires of
the nation and the major theme paving the way for the future. The vision statement or
philosophy provides guidelines for curriculum developers in organising and
incorporating programmes and activities into the curriculum. The philosophic vision
is usually derived through discussions with various persons in the country and also
from reading the literature. Then it is reformulated in the light of realities to enable
the vision to be achieved through a process of learning in schools rather remaining an
ideal that is unachievable.
The educational philosophy of an educational system is a reflection of
national policies. For example, use of one language of instruction to unite the
different communities; free primary education to reduce drop-outs and a common
national curriculum to reduce varying interpretations. The educational philosophy will
also reflect national priorities such as the development aspects of the nation, sociocultural needs of the people and levels of achievement of the children at different
cycles. Development needs have to be identified in relation to the priorities. For
example does the country want more graduates or should the emphasis be on basic
In relation to socio-cultural needs, the culture of peace, conflict resolutions
etc. could emerge as important aspects that should be highlighted in the school
curriculum. The needs of disabled persons and adults who have lost opportunities for
learning have to be incorporated too. Opportunities for vocational and career
education have to be provided in the curriculum. Therefore, vocational interests of
students have to be assessed.
In addition, curriculum planners should not only study current best practices,
customs, and beliefs about education in the local schools but should compare these to
the educational research literature on best practices in teaching, learning, and
curriculum design. Levels of achievements relate to understanding of concepts at
different grades by children to enable them to complete the skills needed to move on


to higher grades. These have to be identified in order to bring quality to learning and
avoid wastage in the learning programmes.
CASE STUDY : The Vision of South Africas Curriculum Framework 2005
The curriculum framework is a set of principles and guidelines which
provides both a philosophical base and an organisational structure for curriculum
development initiatives at all levels, be they nationally, provincially, community or
school-based. The vision for South Africa encompasses a prosperous, truly united,
democratic and internationally competitive country with literate, creative and
critical citizens, leading productive, self-fulfilled lives in a country free of
violence, discrimination and prejudice. The realisation of this vision requires
appropriate, lifelong education, training and development to empower people to
participate effectively in all the processes of a democratic society and to excel in
fields like human and natural resource development, human and natural sciences,
the arts and technology.
The primary task of educational policy makers is the establishment of a just
and equitable education and training system which is relevant, of high quality and
is accessible to all learners, irrespective of race, colour, gender, age, religion,
ability or language. A priority for both national and provincial education
departments is, therefore, the creation of a transformative, democratic, open
learning system, fostering in all its users, a strong commitment to lifelong learning
and development.
The curriculum framework serves as a strategic intervention designed to
facilitate and guide the development of a transformed education and training
system in a practicable and sustainable way. It takes as point of departure, that
successful modern economies and societies require citizens with a strong
foundation of general education, the desire and ability to continue to learn to adapt
to, and develop new knowledge, skills and technologies, to move flexibly between
occupations, to take responsibility for personal performance, to set and achieve
high standards, and to work cooperatively.
[Source: CURRICULUM 2005 Lifelong Learning for the 21st Century: A User's Guide.

Read the Case Study and answer the following questions:
1. Why do you think that in the vision it is emphasised that
South Africa should be free of violence, discrimination and
2. What are the goals of the curriculum framework of South
3. How are these educational goals similar or different from
those of your country?


National Policies &


Research and Best




Curriculum Phase



Instructional Phase


Figure 5.4 Levels of Curriculum Planning

5.4.2 Education Goals
Educational goals are outcomes to be achieved by students at the end of a
particular period of time in school. While certain goals are universal and run
throughout the period some are specific to particular levels and times. This means that
a child will be facing different goals at different levels. The goals are the basic
elements in curriculum planning and should be clear and well articulated without
ambiguities. All these relate to human behaviour. In a country recovering from a civil
war, its key educational goals might be peace, developing self-confidence,
cooperation, responsible citizenship needed to overcome the existing conflicts.
Actually, there could be a plethora of goals such as developing creativity, mental
health, coping with change, informed participation, basic skills and so forth, ending


on the vision and cultural needs of the society. Connecting development needs to
education is an important strategy to achieve greater impact of education on society.

In 1990, the President of the United States and state governors issued
a list of six goals for the nations schools which stated that by the year
all children in America will start school ready to learn
the high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90%
American students will leave grades 4, 8 and 12 having
demonstrated competency in challenging subject mater
(English, mathematics, science , history and geography)
U.S students will be first in the world in science and
mathematics achievement
Every adult American will be literate and will possess the
knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global
economy and exercise the right and responsibilities of
Every school in America will be free of drugs and violence
will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning
[Source: National Goals for Education, 1990. Washington D.C].

1. What seems to be the emphasis in these goals? What is

2. Compare these goals with the goals of your education

5.4.3 Curriculum Goals

A curriculum goal is a purpose or desired end stated in general terms. No time
period is specified when the goals must be reached. Neither is mention of the criteria
for achievement or mastery. Curriculum planners expect students to accomplish it as
a result of exposure to segments or all of a programme in a particular educational
institution. Goals provide direction for the curriculum.
For example:
Students shall acquire knowledge and skills necessary for functioning as
good citizens in their own school and community.
Schools should seek to promote the physical and emotional health of
5.4.4 Curriculum Objectives
Curriculum objectives are derived from the curriculum goal. A curriculum
objective is a purpose or end stated in specific, measurable terms. It is a refinement of

the curriculum goals. They specify the performance standards for the students for
whom the curriculum is designed. From the curriculum goal; Students shall acquire
knowledge and skills necessary for functioning on a daily basis, as good citizens in
their own school and community setting; the following curriculum objectives can be
The majority of students will obey the rules and regulations of the school
More than 80% of students will be involved in at least one voluntary activity
Note how the curriculum objective refines the curriculum goal. Many curriculum
objectives can emanate from a single curriculum goal.

Malaysian Primary School Science Curriculum
Curriculum Goal or Aim
Primary Science education aims to develop knowledgeable, skilful, thinking,
caring, dynamic and progressive individuals able to contribute towards the creation
of a society that practices science and technology culture, responsible towards the
environment and appreciative of nature and Gods creations.
Sample Curriculum Objectives
The Primary School Science Curriculum will enable students to:
Acquire an understanding of science concepts and principles in an
integrated manner and able to relate them with natural phenomena and
everyday experiences,
Apply science knowledge and skills creatively and intelligently in problem
solving and decision making
Develop further the intrinsic values of science such as inquisitiveness,
open-mindedness, intellectual honesty and perseverance,
Develop scientific and manipulative skills through the discovery-inquiry
Develop skills in conducting scientific investigations and research
Sample Instructional Goals for Year 4
A) Understand that breathing is a general characteristic of living things
B) Know that light can be dispersed
Sample Instructional Objectives
A1) Explain how breathing takes place in humans
A2) State the three methods of breathing in animals
B1) State that sunlight consists of seven colours
B2) Explain the formation of a rainbow

1. How is the goal of the Malaysian primary school curriculum

different from the stated curriculum objectives?
2. Which curriculum objectives focus on the knowledge, skills and
attitudes/values to be acquired by students?
3. How is Instructional Goal A implemented in the classroom?
[Source: Curriculum Specifications for Smart Schools, Curriculum
Development Centre, Ministry of Education Malaysia, July, 1997]


5.4.5 Instructional Goals

At the instructional phase, curriculum objectives are translated initially into
instructional goals. An instructional goal is a statement of performance expected of
each student in a class stated in general terms. It is the general intentions of a course
of instruction without criteria of achievement. For example, Students will show an
understanding about the tropical rainforest. It indicates the performance expected; i.e.
understand, but the performance level or criteria is not stated. So it is not easily
measured. Instructional goals points the way to instructional objectives.
5.4.6 Instructional Objectives
An instructional objective is a statement of performance to be demonstrated by
each student in a class. It is stated in a form that is measurable and observable. Other
names given for instructional objectives are specific instructional objectives, specific
learning outcomes, behavioural objectives performance objectives, and competencies.
An example of an instructional objective is: At the end of the lesson students should
be able to describe five characteristics of the tropical rainforest. It is important that
you state clearly the instructional objectives you intend to achieve at the end of a
period of instruction. It determines the selection of content (textbook, the internet,
reference books), the teaching learning methods (lectures, practical sessions, group
discussions, self study, field visits) to be adopted, learning resources (audio-visual
aids, equipment, kits) you will utilise and how you intend to evaluate whether the
desired learning outcomes have been achieved. Let us examine in detail about
instructional objectives.
5.5. Instructional Objectives or Learning Outcomes
Instructional objectives are the learning outcomes desired and are of primary
importance in developing a curriculum. Objectives point to the appropriate content to
be selected, how teaching and learning is to be conducted and ways of assessing
performance in the subject. In the past the traditional description of a course simply
referred to content; i.e. what it was that the teacher would cover. There has, however,
been a shift in thinking about teaching and learning with learning and the learner now
seen to be of primary importance. Teaching then becomes the means of facilitating
learning in the learner.
In the teacher-centred approach, teaching is generally seen to be about the
transmission of knowledge. Focus is on what the teacher did, and goals of the subject
area were expressed in terms of the content which the teacher would transmit. In the
learner-centred approach, however, the focus is on what the learner does, and the
intentions of a subject area are usually expressed in terms of how the learner will be
changed as a result of learning that content. The statements describing the change in
student behaviour which should result from taking the course are known as "intended
learning objectives" or "intended learning outcomes"; "objectives" or "outcomes" for
short. Teaching then becomes a series of strategies which are devised in order to help
students achieve these objectives / outcomes. [You will notice that at the beginning of
each chapter in this course there is a list of learning outcomes or objectives].
In stating a instructional objective or learning outcome, active verbs are used
to indicate what it is that students must do in order to demonstrate learning. It is not


enough to say "yes, I understand that". But how do I know that you understand unless
you can demonstrate that you do. Here are some example of learning outcomes:
On completion of this 45 minute lesson on the tropical rainforest you should
be able to:
Define the terms: evergreen, humidity, buttress roots, canopy
Locate the distribution of the rainforest on a world map
Explain why there is little undergrowth in a rainforest

Proponents of Behavioural Objectives argue that it:
forces the teachers to be precise about what is to be accomplished
enables the teacher to tell students what they must achieve
makes evaluation easier because it is measurable
makes it easier for the selection of instructional objectives
makes accountability easier
Opponents of Behavioural Objectives argue that it:
restricts creativity
lead to trivial or unimportant competencies
is dehumanising
downplays affective outcomes

1) How do behavioural objectives restrict creativity among

2) Do you agree with the opponents of behavioural objectives?
3) State ONE other reason each supporting the proponents and
opponents of behavioural objectives.
[Source: adapted from Peter Oliva (1982). Developing the curriculum.
Boston: Little Brown
& Co. p. 352]

5.6. Classifying Instructional Objectives or Learning Outcomes

The classification of learning objectives or outcomes was developed by a team
led by Benjamin Bloom in the 1950s. Three domains were addressed and for each
taxonomy of abilities, emotions and skills were developed. A taxonomy is a system
for classifying something, and in this case; the classifying of learning objectives or
learning outcomes. Taxonomies of learning objectives or learning outcomes are used
to categorise goals for student learning. Taxonomies are based on the assumption that
different types of objectives are learned through different mental processes. The three
taxonomies are:


The Cognitive Domain which is concerned with mental or intellectual skills

and abilities
The Affective Domain which is concerned with feelings, values and attitudes
The Psychomotor Domain which is concerned with physical skills

The three taxonomies remain a useful conceptual tool for thinking about what
a body of content require students to do, and for thinking about how students should
be able to demonstrate their learning through their behaviour. It is valuable because it
draws attention to the need to be clear about the complexity of intellectual tasks which
a subject might require to perform.


Examples of Verbs for Stating

Objectives or Outcomes


Remembering previously learned material.

The skill may involve recall of a wide
range of material, from specific facts to
complete theories, but all that is required
is the bringing to mind of the appropriate

Define, describe, identify, label,

list, match, name, select, state,
outline, recite


The ability to grasp meaning of material.

This skill may be shown by translating
material from one form to another, by
interpreting material (explaining or
summarising), and by estimating future
trends (predicting consequences or

distinguish, estimate, explain,
generalise, infer, give example,
illustrate, paraphrase, predict,
rewrite, restate, summarise, solve


The ability to use learned material in new

and concrete situations. This may include
the application of such things as rules,
methods, concepts, principles, laws and

Apply, compute, demonstrate,

develop, employ, manipulate,
modify, organise, produce, relate,
transfer, discover


The ability to put parts together to form a

new whole. This may involve the
production of a unique communication
(theme or speech), a plan of operations
(research proposal), or a set of abstract

Categorise, combine, compile,

compose, construct, create, design,
devise, formulate, invent, generate,
propose, rearrange, reconstruct,
revise, rewrite, set up.


The ability to judge the value of material

(statement, novel, poem, research report)
for a given purpose. The judgements are
to be based on definite criteria. These may
be internal criteria (organisation) or
external criteria (relevance to the purpose)
and the student may determine the criteria
or be given them.

justify, resolve, support, validate,
write a review.

[Source: Benjamin Bloom (1956) Handbook of Taxonomy of Educational Objectives]

Table 5.1 The Cognitive Taxonomy


5.6.1 Cognitive Domain

Blooms taxonomy of the cognitive domain is perhaps the best known and
most widely used. It was published in 1956. It lists a persons observable and
unobservable intellectual abilities such as comprehending information, organising
ideas, and evaluating information and actions. It categorises the types of cognitive
learning outcomes that are featured at all levels of the curriculum. Bloom and his
associated classified cognitive learnings in 6 major categories: knowledge,
comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation (see Table 5.1).

Cognitive Levels


Examples of Verbs for Stating

Objectives or Outcomes


Willingness to receive or to attend to

particular information or activity
(textbook, classroom activity). Receiving
involves the willingness to receive or
accept and focussing attention

Attend, be aware, listen, reply,

show, alert, use, watch, select,
tolerate, follow, ask.


Refers to active participation by the

student. The student is actively attending
by responding in the class and is
involved in the teaching-learning setting.
He or she gains satisfaction from
engaging in activities.

Agree, answer, communicate,

comply, consent, contribute,
cooperate, help, inquire, obey,
participate, question, request,
report, respond, seek, volunteer


The students sees worth or value in what

is being learned or the activity being
done. The student does not merely obey
or complies but does so because he or
she is intrinsically motivated.

Accept, adopt, approve, complete,

commit, desire, display, exhibit,
express, initiate, invite, prefer,
share, study, work.


The student brings together many

different values and attempt to resolve
the conflicts between the value. Through
this process he or she builds a value
system. He or she sees how new values
are related to existing values and tries to
establish a balance.

Adapt, alter, arrange, classify,

generalise, integrate, modify,
order, rank, synthesise.


The student internalises the values. In

other words, he or she adopts the values
as his or her own. The values
internalised determines the behaviour of
the student. The behaviour is consistent
and predictable.

Act, behave, conform, devote,

perform, uphold, use, influence.

[Source: Benjamin Bloom and D. Krathwohl (1964) Handbook of Taxonomy

of Educational Objectives]

Table 5.2 The Affective Taxonomy


5.6.2 Affective Domain

After the appearance of the cognitive taxonomy, David R. Krathwohl and
others, including Benjamin Bloom, developed a taxonomy of objectives in the
affective domain in 1964 (see Table 5.2). The affective domain relates to the manner
in which we deal with things involving our emotions; such as our feelings, our values,
how we appreciate something, our enthusiasm for something, what motivates us to do
something and our attitudes towards something.
5.6.3 Psychomotor Domain
The psychomotor domain is less known compared to the other two
taxonomies. There are several interpretations of the domain and one of them was
developed by R. Dave in 1970 (see Table 5.3). The psychomotor domain involves
physical movement, coordination and use of the motor-skill areas. Development of
these skills require practice and is measured in terms of speed, precision, distance,
procedures, or techniques in execution.


Examples of Verbs for Stating

Objectives or Outcomes


The student indicates a readiness to learn

a certain complex skill. Imitation includes
repeating an act that has been
demonstrated or explained. It includes
trial and error until an appropriate
response is achieved.

practice, reproduce, start, try,
volunteer, sketch, follow.


The student continues to practice the skill

until it becomes habitual and can be
performed with some confidence. The
response is more complex but he or she is
still not sure of himself or herself.

[all the verbs for Imitation plus the

following]: acquire, conduct, do,
produce, progress, use, operate.


The student attains the skill and

proficiency is indicated by a quick,
smooth and accurate performance. The
response is complex and performed
without hesitation.

[all the verbs for Imitation and

Manipulation plus the following]:
achieve, automatise, exceed, excel,
master, reach, refine, surpass,


The student is involved at an even higher

level of precision. The skill is well
developed. The student can adapt the skill
according to different requirements.

Adapt, change, alter, reorganise,

rearrange, revise.


The skill is automatic and the student is

able to experiment and create new ways of
using the skill.

Arrange, compose, refine, create,

design, originate, transcend.

[Source: R. Dave. Psychomotor Domain, 1974]

Table 5.3 The Psychomotor Taxonomy


The three taxonomies provide guidelines for developing instructional

objectives and learning outcomes in a curriculum plan. The taxonomies serve as a
guide to encourage teachers to move their learners from the lower outcomes to higher
levels of learning in each domain.

1. If you heading a project on developing a curriculum for a particular course or
subject, which of these 3 models of curriculum development would you adopt
to guide you? Why?
2. Have a look at any course or programme.
a) Is there a clear statement of curriculum objectives and instructional
objectives to be achieved?
b) Would you say that students would be clear about what they are expected
to do in the course, or do the objectives simply delineate the content areas
that the course will cover?
c) Is there an explicit relationship between the objectives and the teachinglearning methods employed in the subject?
d) Is summative assessment carried out by anything other than class tests and
e) Is there any mention in them of the affective side to learning in the subject?
f) If not, what do you think would be appropriate affective objectives for the


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