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When planning my courses, I usually try to establish a variety of objectives, beyond the primary objective described in the course description, and layer many minor objectives into the lessons. Courses for freshmen tend to have more objectives, as they are often learning about the requirements of being a student at college.

As an example, in a course called "History of New Orleans", I would focus on these objectives:

  • content (e.g. know major events in New Orleans' history)
  • cultural understanding (e.g. develop affinity/understanding of the perspective of different peoples in New Orleans)
  • vocabulary (e.g. academic meta-vocabulary, terms specific to the content)
  • research skills (e.g. assessing bias in sources, writing a works cited)
  • practice with technological tools to assist (e.g. software for accessing historical records)
  • group work skills (e.g. effectively combining work)
  • academic behavior (e.g. learn that plagiarism is not welcome in college)

I have seen tools such as Bloom's Taxonomy, however, that seems too narrowly focused on the course topic and does not seem to broadly cover many of the skills I've listed above. I want to find some table/system/taxonomy to help me to identify and organize the objectives.

Is there a system to assist course instructors in selecting course objectives?

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Perhaps the closest thing to a system would be the objectives that were developed for the full curriculum?

An example from my area. In biology, a recent call encourages universities to be less focused on subdisciplines and more on core concepts and competencies. After many meetings, biologists settled on these:

Core concepts: evolution, structure and function, information flow, energy pathways, systems.

Competencies: application of the scientific method, quantitative reasoning, modeling and simulation, interdisciplinary connections, effective communication.

If I were writing out my learning objectives for the lecture on photosynthesis, I might list that photosynthesis fits into structure/function and energy pathways core concepts, and I would be motivated to include a discussion of a classic experiment so students can practice the scientific method and some calculations for students to apply quantitative reasoning.

I would imagine that history (or any other discipline) likely has a similar list of important concepts plus important skills they want their students to have.

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