Definition of Theory

When teachers set learning objectives it narrows the instructional goals students must focus on. Setting an instructional goal and communicating it to students can serve as a filter so that a student may pay attentiong to such a degree that they ignore information not specifically related to the goal. The Leadership and Learning Center collected evidence from 1500 teachers in K-12 classrooms that only 4% of teachers set a clear learning objective (Learning 24/7, Classroom Observation Project, 2004). The research tells us that objectives should be clearly defined, displayed, and reviewed with students frequently.  More specifically, Robert Mager, in the book Instructional Objectives, says effective instructional objectives contain three defining characteristics:

  1. Performance. An objective always says what a learner is expected to be able to do; the objective sometimes describes the product or result of the doing.
  2. Conditions. An objective always describes the important conditions (if any) under which the performance is to occur.
  3. Criterion. Whenever possible, an objective describes the criterion of acceptable performance by describing how well the learner must perform in order to be considered acceptable (p.21).

Once the teacher established classroom learning goals, students should be encouraged to adapt them to their personal needs and desires.


Feedback-The Breakfast of Champions, Hattie & Yates October 2014 excerpt from Marshall Memo

Failure as FeedbackMaats, Hunter & Katie O'Brien March 2014 excerpt from Marshall Memo

Six Characteristics of Effective Feedback, Jan Chappuis September 2012 excerpt from Marshall Memo

Working Smart with Corrective Feedback, Fisher & Frey September 2012 excerpt from Marshall Memo

Opinions on Giving Feedback- Katie Rapp, July 2012 excerpt from Marshall Memo

How to Teach Skills So Information Sticks-Judy Willis, October 2011 excerpt from the Marshall Memo