Tool 4: Creating Goals and Objectives

Without clearly defined curriculum goals and objectives, you - along with anyone else you’re working with on your project - will feel like you’re headed on a journey with no clear idea of your destination or your pathway. Goals and objectives can provide the conceptual map for your journey. Taking time to create goals and objectives that relate to the need you’ve identified and the salient points from youth development and content research will pay huge dividends in terms of project quality and efficiency.

Curriculum Goals

The goals you create for your proposed curriculum represent the broad purposes, or rationale, for the learning activities that you hope will take place. Your goals will broadly describe the behaviors, knowledge, skills and attitudes you hope that the learners (such as adult participants, young people of a particular age group, volunteers, staff) will acquire as a result of their experience. For example, the curriculum goal for the Communications Toolkit: Fun Skill-Building Activities to Do With Kids is listed below:

The Communications Toolkit helps youth aged 12 and up build on their skills in vocal expression and public speaking, video, media relations, graphic design and writing.

Wild Over Work: A Helper’s Guide to Workforce Preparation Activities for Grades K-6 includes several goals for the children involved:

  • Goal 1: Awareness - Develop an awareness of the wide range of career options available and the education and skills required for them.
  • Goal 2: Self - Develop an understanding of self as a worker and in relation to potential career choices.
  • Goal 3: Attitudes - Develop attitudes of respect and appreciation toward all workers and their contributions to society.
  • Goal 4: Skills - Develop skills for exploring potential career choices in greater depth.
  • Goal 5: Vision - Develop a vision for "seeing myself in the future."

Create a goal or goals that provide a clear and concise understanding of what you hope your curriculum will accomplish.

Learning Objectives

Objectives help clarify what broad goals mean and serve as guides to designing the various levels or units of your curriculum. An objective is usually a statement of what the learner is supposed to learn. In 4-H curricula, some objectives are considered "subject matter objectives," in that they state the information that is to be delivered for the learner. Other objectives are considered "life skills objectives" and state what life skills the learner will practice.

Examples of learning objectives from the "Visual Communications and Graphic Design" section of the Communications Toolkit curriculum are listed below:

Learners will:

  • Experiment with creating different line qualities.
  • Create lines that give the impression of different feelings or moods.
  • Create combinations of shapes that communicate an idea or thing.
  • Experiment with finding or creating different visual textures.
  • Try using textures to communicate a feeling.
  • Become aware of the role of space and size in visual communications.
  • Become aware of the properties of color.
  • Practice applying balance, rhythm and emphasis to a simple design problem.
  • Learn how unity is created in visual communication design.
  • Become aware of the many styles of type.
  • Understand how different type designs can be used to communicate different messages.
  • Become aware of the variety of visual communications surrounding us and to learn to identify some different forms of visual communications.
  • Experience designing and using presentation graphics.

Examples of some of the learning objectives from the "Work Around Me" section of the Wild Over Work curriculum are listed below:

Learners will:

  • Identify various roles they have in their families (related to goal of "Self").
  • Identify responsibilities they perform in their roles as family members (related to goal of "Self").
  • Show how the jobs they do contribute to a group effort (related to goal of "Attitude").
  • Identify the role they and others play in a group project ("Self" and "Attitude").
  • Identify the importance of working together to complete a project ("Attitude").
  • Practice teamwork skills ("Skills").
  • Evaluate how well a group works together ("Skills").
  • Become familiar with work their family members do ("Awareness").
  • Identify their own areas of interest ("Self").
  • Understand that their interests in the present may be connected to jobs in their future ("Vision").

Create objectives that clearly state what learners will learn or accomplish as a result of the educational experiences you plan to design in your curriculum.

Keep in Mind . . .

  • Remember to consult with the current research - both human development research and content specific research - to create both the goals and the objectives to include in your curriculum. Refer to Reflecting the Research Base for more information on this area.
  • Be sure to indicate your project’s goals and objectives on the MSUE Curriculum Project Goals and Objectives Worksheet (Microsoft Word file format) and submit it with the proposal for your project.
  • At the beginning of your project, try to identify all the potential objectives that relate to the curriculum need you’ve identified. The next step on your journey will be to expand your objectives into a more refined framework of experiential learning activities. Refer to Expanding Your Project Framework and Making Learning Experiential for more information.


  • Ferrari, T.M. (1997). Wild over work: A helper’s guide for workforce preparation activities in grades K-6. Minneapolis, MN: 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System.
  • Hendricks, P.A., (1996). Targeting life skills model: Incorporating developmentally appropriate learning opportunities to assess impact of life skills development. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Extension.
  • Pace, K., Howell, C., Kronenberg, M., & Reiter, M. (1999). Communications toolkit: Fun skill-building activities to do with kids. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Extension.
  • Posner, G. & Rudnitsky (1994). Course design: A guide to curriculum development for teachers. New York: Longman. Tanner, D., & Tanner, L. (1995). Curriculum development: Theory into practice. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Simon & Schuster Company.

Last Updated: July 29, 2009; Last Reviewed: April, 2009
© Copyright 2008 Michigan State University.