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Queen's University

Centre for Teaching and Learning

Setting Goals

When designing courses, keep in mind the specific goals that you would like the course to achieve. Overall, statements should be short and should begin with a verb. Goals are typically referred to as knowledge, skills or attitudes.

  • Knowledge (cognitive) refers to intellectual development. When testing knowledge, students must: list, classify, apply, analyze, construct, or argue.
  • Skills (psychomotor) refers to development of physical skills. When testing skills, students must: perform, grasp, handle, or operate.
  • Attitudes (affective) refers to the development of emotions, attitudes, and values. When testing attitudes, students must: appreciate, accept, challenge, share, or support.

Course Aims

The main question behind a course’s aim is “Why is the course being taught?” This question gives shape and direction for the course. For example, a course’s aim could be to provide students with an introduction to the Canadian health care system.

Course Goals

The main question behind a course’s goal is “What will the student be able to do as a result of taking the course?” This question provides the scope for the course. An example of a course’s goal could be, “At the end of this course, students will be able to critically assess the contribution of various elements of the health care system to the health of a population”.

Course Objectives

Course objectives are aimed at answering the following question, “what will the student be able to do as a result of the particular lesson or experience. This provides direction for specific teaching and learning activities. For instance, a course objective might state, “At the end of the course students will be able to differentiate between a “sick care” versus a “health care” orientation.

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