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How to Successfully Analyze an Instructional Design Goal Statement


A goal analysis begins once an Instructional Designer has stated a clear instructional goal.

It is important in the beginning of the instructional design process to:

  • Either define a goal statement or verify the accuracy and appropriateness of a goal statement given to you by your client; and
  • Analyze the goal and identify key components of the goal

If the goal is unclear, subsequent planning can become unclear and ineffective, and learners may have difficulties discerning the overall purpose of the instruction.

It is also important to determine what your target learners must know and be able to perform the goal.

Why Should You Write a Goal Statement?

The goal analysis process will ensure that you have determined the major steps necessary to complete your goal and that you account for these steps in your instruction.

The results of a goal analysis will help you define the scope and sequence of your instruction, including the number, nature and sequence of instructional modules (or units) to be contained in your course or training program.

You need to begin by examining the nature of the performance problem and base solutions on identified causes of the performance problem, rather than assuming that instruction is the best answer.

The Extent of Your Goal Statement

The extent of your instructional goal will determine the amount of instruction that will be necessary to achieve the goal.

  • A relatively extensive goal may require a series of workshops or semester of coursework to accomplish.
  • Less extensive goals may take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to attain.


Key Components of Goal Statements

A short goal statement should include a brief description of the learner and targeted skills.

In contrast, a complete goal statement provides additional information about the performance context and the availability of tools.

Short Goal Statement is a description of:

  • The learner
  • What learners will be able to do

Extended Goal Statement is a description of:

  • The learner
  • What learners will be able to do
  • Real-life context in which the skills are to be applied
  • Available tools for accomplishing goals

Both statements are used to focus subsequent analyses.

A complete goal statement may be used as a course description and for marketing purposes.


How to Clarify Fuzzy Goals

Fuzzy goals do not specify what learners can do if they achieve the goal in measurable/observable terms.

They typically contain abstract statements of internal learning outcomes like..

  • "increase awareness of"
  • "demonstrate understanding
  • "appreciate"

The goal should be clarified if it is unclear what performances constitute accomplishment of the goal.

The goal should also be stated in measurable terms; in other words, using concrete verbs that may be observed.

If you can't measure the goal, how will you ever know if you've achieved it? If you think you have a fuzzy goal, be sure to clarify it.


Classifying Goals

There are two steps in analyzing goals:

  1. Classifying the goal according to learning outcome and taxonomy
  2. Identifying and sequencing major steps involved in performing the goal

Gagné's five domains of learning is a great foundation for completing these two steps.

It is believed that learned human capabilities may be classified into several distinct categories. For instance, Bloom proposes what is probably one of the best known learning taxonomies that distinguishes between knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

Others differentiate between cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning outcomes.

Gagne’s five domains include:

  1. Verbal Information - Factual information that is stored or looked up

  2. Intellectual Skills - Capability to use symbols to organize, interact with and make sense of the world, such as reading, writing, distinguishing, combining, classifying and quantifying
    • Discriminate - Distinguish between two stimuli
    • Form concrete and defined concepts - Identify stimulus as a member of class having common characteristics, and demonstrate the meaning of class of objects, events or relations
    • Apply rules - Apply principles and follow procedures, responding with regularity over a variety of situations
    • Solve problems - Apply a combination of rules to solve real or intellectual problems

  3. Cognitive Strategies - Capability to govern/direct thinking, learning and remembering

  4. Motor Skills - Execute movement in organized motor acts

  5. Attitudes - Mental states that influence direction and degree of effort

It has been recognized that the distinction between the domains may be somewhat artificial in real-life.

During the design phase, classification of the goal and related objectives helps you, the designer, determine the appropriate instructional strategies to promote goal achievement.



Hopefully, this post has helped give you a better understanding as to why it is important to write a goal statement, as well as the key components in a goal statement.

You can learn the exact steps on how to write and analyze a goal statement for your eLearning course in the eLearning and Instructional Design for Beginners Mastermind.


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