Create, Learn, Believe

Enriching Museum Experiences

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing Goals and Objectives

I was recently asked to describe the difference between goals and objectives. Simply put, the goal is the big idea that the program, exhibit, publication, etc. will accomplish. Objectives are the steps taken to meet the goal.

Goals are big ideas with capitol Bs. They directly support the institution's mission. We hope that they are something that visitors will care about; therefore, they must be relevant to the intended audience. They are phrased to specify the direction of change in actions, knowledge, or beliefs among the target group. Sometimes the goal describes the vehicle that will drive change. 

Example: "Inspire people to come together as an interconnected community through their participation in our community building programs."

In a museum setting, goals can be such big ideas that they are difficult to measure. It is very difficult to define the degree to which the audience has been changed. Goal statements often use words like appreciate, believe, think, feel, know, and understand. They are GLOBAL.

Objectives list the actions that the museum or audience will take to meet the goal. Objectives are completely measurable, and--in fact--they should be measured. In theory, if the objectives are accomplished then, by definition, the goal will have been reached.


Objectives: As a result of participating in this program, 
visitors will be better able to, 

1.  Identify problems faced by our community.
2.  Describe the community programs that we offer.sponsor.
3.  Discuss ways in which individuals can make a difference in our community.
4.  Register to participate in community programs. 

Notice that each objective is completely measureable. Participants can be asked to identify, describe, discuss, and register. The evaluation demonstrates the degree to which the objectives have been met. The process (e.g. program, exhibition, lesson) that is used to meet the objectives falls in between the objectives and the evaluation.  

What do you think?  To what extent do your goals specify change?  What are the objectives that you will undertake to achieve your goals? 

Share your examples!

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