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School of Teacher Education

Writing Instructional Objectives


Verbs to use and not to use

Phrasing Objectives

Objective statements should include a verb that communicates to the learner how to demonstrate what she or he has learned.

Bloom’s Taxonomy – a Classification of Thinking Skills

Educators want to challenge students’ critical thinking abilities. Bloom’s taxonomy presents a hierarchy from less to more complex thinking and application skills. The taxonomy is presented below with sample verbs and critical questions for each level. The verbs in the different levels provide guidance in creating specific statements of instructional objectives which target higher levels of curricular applications.



Level Attributes

Keywords or Recommended Verbs

Critical Questions

1: Knowledge

Exhibits previously learned material by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts and answers.



Who, What, Why, When, Omit, Where, Which, Choose, Find, How, Define, Label, Show, Spell, List, Match, Name, Relate, Tell, Recall, Select, Cite, Identify, Quote, Relate, Tell, Count, Indicate, Read, Repeat, Trace, Define, Recite, Select, Write, Describe, Recognize, State , Draw, Point, Record, Tabulate, Write

What is …? How is …?

Where is ...? When did _______ happen?

How did ______ happen? How would you explain ...?

Why did ...? How would you describe ...?

When did ...? Can you recall ...?

How would you show ...?

Can you select ...?

Who were the main ...?

Can you list three ...?

Which one ...? Who was ...?

2: Comprehension

Demonstrating understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions and stating main ideas based on prior learning.



Compare, Contrast, Demonstrate, Interpret, Explain, Extend, Illustrate, Infer, Outline, Relate, Rephrase, Translate, Summarize, Show, Classify, Associate, Describe, Explain, Locate, Translate, Classify, Differentiate, Express, Predict, Discuss, Extrapolate, Report, Compute, Distinguish, Interpolate, Restate, Estimate, Interpret, Review, Summarize, Paraphrase, Describe

How would you classify the type of ...?

How would you compare ...? contrast ...?

Will you state or interpret in your own words ...?

How would you rephrase the meaning ...?

What facts or ideas show ...?

What is the main idea of ...?

Which statements support ...?

Can you explain what is happening . . . what is meant . . .?

What can you say about ...?

Which is the best answer ...?

How would you summarize ...?

3: Application

Solving problems by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way with a mini-
mum of direction.


Apply, Build, Choose, Construct, Develop, Interview, Make Use Of, Organize, Experiment With, Plan, Select, Solve, Utilize, Model, Identify, Apply, Employ, Locate, Relate, Sketch, Calculate, Examine, Operate, Report, Solve, Complete, Illustrate, Order, Restate, Translate, Demonstrate, Interpolate, Practice, Review , Use, Dramatize, Interpret, Predict, Schedule, Compute

How would you use ...? What examples can you find to ...?

How would you solve _______ using what you have learned ...?

How would you organize _______ to show ...?

How would you show your understanding of ...?

What approach would you use to ...?

How would you apply what you learned to develop ...?

What other way would you plan to ...?

What would result if ...?

Can you make use of the facts to ...?

What elements would you choose to change ...?

What facts would you select to show ...?

What questions would you ask in an interview with ...?

4: Analysis

Examining and breaking information into parts by identifying motives or causes; hypotheses, evidence, making inferences and finding evidence to support generalizations.



Analyze, Categorize, Classify, Compare, Contrast, Discover, Dissect, Divide, Examine, Inspect, Simplify, Survey, Take Part In, Test For, Distinguish, List, Distinction, Theme, Relationships, Function, Motive, Inference, Assumption, Conclusion, Categorize, Separate, Debate, Distinguish, Inventory, Appraise, Detect, Experiment, Question, Contract, Diagram, Infer, Separate, Criticize, Differentiate, Inspect, Summarize


What are the parts or features of ...?

How is _______ related to ...?

Why do you think ...?

What is the theme ...?

What motive is there ...?

Can you list the parts ...?

What inference can you make ...?

What conclusions can you draw ...?

How would you classify ...?

How would you categorize ...?

Can you identify the difference parts ...?

What evidence can you find ...?

What is the relationship between ...?

Can you make a distinction between ...?

What is the function of ...?

What ideas justify ...?

5: Synthesis

Compiling information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions.


Build, Choose, Combine, Compile, Compose, Construct, Create, Design, Develop, Estimate, Formulate, Imagine, Invent, Make Up, Originate, Plan, Predict, Propose, Solve, Solution, Suppose, Discuss, Modify, Change, Original, Improve, Adapt, Minimize, Maximize, Delete, Theorize, Elaborate, Test, Improve, Happen, Change, Hypothesize, Arrange, Organize, Produce, Assemble, Generalize, Collect, Integrate, Prepare, Specify, Detect, Manage, Prescribe

What changes would you make to solve ...?

How would you improve ...?

What would happen if ...?

Can you elaborate on the reason ...?

Can you propose an alternative ...?

Can you invent ...?

How would you adapt ________ to create a different ...?

How could you change (modify) the plot (plan) ...?

What could be done to minimize (maximize) ...?

What way would you design ...?

What could be combined to improve (change) ...?

Suppose you could _______ what would you do ...?

How would you test ...?

Can you formulate a theory for ...?

Can you predict the outcome if ...?

How would you estimate the results for ...?

What facts can you compile ...?

Can you construct a model that would change ...?

Can you think of an original way for the ...?

6: Evaluation

Presenting and defending opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas or quality of work based on a set of criteria.


Award, Choose, Conclude, Criticize, Decide, Defend, Determine, Dispute, Evaluate, Judge, Justify, Measure, Compare, Mark, Rate, Recommend, Rule On, Select, Agree, Interpret, Explain, Appraise, Prioritize, Opinion, Support, Importance, Criteria, Prove, Disprove, Assess, Influence, Perceive, Value, Estimate, Influence, Deduct, Recommend, Critique, Justify, Appraise, Test, Revise, Rank, Score, Critique, Grade, Rate, Reflect

Do you agree with the actions ...? with the outcomes ...?

What is your opinion of ...?

How would you prove ...? disprove ...?

Can you assess the value or importance of ...?

Would it be better if ...?

Why did they (the character) choose ...?

What would you recommend ...?

How would you rate the ...?

What would you cite to defend the actions ...?

How would you evaluate ...?

How could you determine ...?

What choice would you have made ...?

What would you select ...?

How would you prioritize ...?

What judgment would you make about ...?

Based on what you know, how would you explain ...?

What information would you use to support the view ...?

How would you justify ...?

What data was used to make the conclusion ...?

Why was it better that ...?

How would you prioritize the facts ...?

How would you compare the ideas ...? people ...?




Problems when phrasing objectives

Here are some common problems in writing instructional objectives.






1. Vastness Complexity or Earnestness

The objective is too broad in scope or includes more than one objective

The student will become aware of the causes and outcomes of the civil war…

Reduce and simplify the objective

The student will hypothesize two causes of the civil and war and propose two alternate solutions…

2. False Criteria or no criteria

The criteria doesn't let the user know explicitly how well they need to do the behavior

The student will create a PowerPoint outlining the plot of required book.

Make criteria: reasonable, specific, useful

The student will create a PowerPoint outlining the plot of required book scoring a Proficient or better on the scoring rubric.

3. False Behavior

Describes instruction

To update, reinforce, and provide new information about Navahos dwellings.

Describe how the learner will demonstrate what has been learned

The student will develop plans for and construct a model of a Navaho Hogan using paper, clay, sticks, and straw …

4. False Condition

Does not describe conditions

The student will know rivers in America.

Detail what can or cannot be used to complete the behavior

Given an outline map of the United States with the major rivers drawn in but not labeled, the student will write the names of ten major rivers in the US with 100% accuracy.

5. False Performance

Often simply restating the goal; no true performance stated

The student will understand the principle parts in a research paper.

Be specific as to what you want the learner to do

Each student in the English 118 Composition class will be able to compose a ten-page research paper containing all five principle parts as defined in class and by their textbook scoring Proficient or better on the scoring rubric.

The following tired phrases are commonly misunderstood and the participants do not understand what they are supposed to be able to accomplish or how to demonstrate achievement.

Avoid the following verbs and phrases in writing instructional objectives.

  • To become acquainted with...
  • To become adjusted to...
  • To become capable of...
  • To become cognizant of...
  • To become conscious of...
  • To become familiar with...
  • Evidence of an appreciation for...
  • Evidence of an attitude of...
  • Evidence of an awareness of...
  • Evidence of a comprehension of...
  • Evidence of an enjoyment of...
  • Evidence of a feeling of...
  • Evidence of a knowledgeable about...
  • Evidence of a self-confident in...
  • Evidence of a knowledge of...
  • Evidence of an understanding of...
  • Evidence of an interested in...
  • To gain a working knowledge of
  • To have faith in
  • Conceptualize
  • Self-actualize
  • Believe
  • Memorize
  • Capacity
  • Listen
  • Comprehend
  • Perceive
  • Depth
  • Recognize
  • Experience
  • See
  • Feel
  • Thank
  • Hear
  • Understand
  • Intelligence
  • Know
  • Learn

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 Last Modified 9/24/14