Have you ever attempted to drive to a new restaurant at night with only a vague idea of where it was located? Trying to reach a destination without some necessary information can invoke feelings of anxiety and frustration. Students may feel the same way about reaching the objectives of your courses if they are at all unsure of where they’re going. Like the frequent customer at his or her favorite restaurant, instructors can intuitively cruise to where they have been so many times before. But for students maneuvering to new destinations, the location and the directions need to be unambiguous.
The beginning of the semester is right around the corner, but now is still a good time to review learning goals and objectives listed on your syllabi. If written properly, goals and objectives should underlie every instructional decision and keep a course on track. Rather than discussing the ABC’s of writing good objectives, I ask you to consider whether your syllabi truly describe where students should be at the end of the semester and how they will get there.