Do Instructional Objectives Harm Learning?

I noted recently Michael Allen’s assertion that presenting instructional objectives can enhance learning, which surprised me because I had it in my head somewhere that they don’t. I finally tracked down where I got that notion, from ITFORUM. Will Thalheimer wrote about it here.

I think Thalheimer is spot on that the real question isn’t whether instructional objectives are useful or not, but how we can use them to maximize their impact. It’s almost certainly true that just plopping complex instructional objectives on a slide and treating them perfunctorily in the classroom won’t increase learning in any significant way. I’m well-aligned with Allen’s larger point that objectives are invaluable for designers as part of the design process and an opportunity to do something creative and interesting (or at least clear and learner-centered) when it comes to presenting then in instruction.


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