How to Write Performance-Based Terminal Objectives

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Performance-based terminal objectives should pinpoint exact performance at the end of the training period.
Performance-based terminal objectives should pinpoint exact performance at the end of the training period. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A terminal objective consists of a specific knowledge or skill that a learner is expected to have acquired at the end of a designated period of time. Terminal objectives are typically broad-based learning objectives requiring the attainment of certain general skills. For example, an employee may be required to develop overall computer skills to meet a minimum overall requirement. Performance-based terminal objectives are objectives linked to the performance of an individual or organization.

Identify a desired result. The overall purpose of writing performance-based terminal objectives in a business setting is to achieve specific results. Before you may write such objectives, it is essential to first identify the results that must be achieved. This may be accomplished through the use of a situation analysis. The situation analysis examines the current situation of the organization in relation to its desired situation and identifies what actions must take place in order to close the gap between the two.

Identify intermediate objectives. Intermediate objectives, also sometimes referred to as enabling objectives, are those skills required before the learner may be expected to attain terminal objectives. These are specific skills which are necessary to enable the learner to achieve the broader, terminal objectives. For example, an organization that has identified a need to train workers on a new information system may first need to conduct a skills assessment to determine which enabling objectives must be met before learners may be expected to achieve terminal objectives.

State the purpose of your objectives. Learners, whether in the workplace or a school setting, are far more likely to accept additional training requirements when they perceive a valid need. It is important to articulate a clear purpose for the learning objectives. For example, the purpose of your performance-based terminal objectives may be to increase production without adding to the workload of any one employee or group of employees.

Write SMART goals. The SMART goal method is an effective technique for writing performance-based terminal objectives. SMART goals are goals that are Specific and Measurable, relatively Attainable, Relevant to the mission of the organization and tied to a specific Timeline for completion.

Tie each terminal objective to a specific performance measure. For example, an organization may set a goal of having 90 percent of employees perform at a minimum productivity level by the end of the training period.

Create a deadline for the completion of both terminal objectives and intermediate objectives to ensure learners know what they are expected to achieve and by when. It is also essential to articulate specific consequences for failure to meet objectives. For example, an organization may choose to terminate any employee who fails to achieve the desired level of productivity by the end of the training period.

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