The difference between aims and objectives
Aims and objectives refer to targets and goals, but they are different, especially in terms of time. Objectives have a specific length of time in which they need to be achieved, but aims do not have any time limits placed on them.
Every program has a target that it wants to meet. The aim is a general statement about that target and the objectives are the ways in which the aim will be carried out. An aim is very broad and is difficult to measure. The objectives that are listed as part of that aim are measurable and when they have all been achieved, it can be said that the aim or goal has been achieved.
Objectives are very specific and can be measured. These are used in educational institutions every day. A teacher for a specific course has a curriculum guide listing what the students are expected to achieve in that course throughout the semester or the year. The following is an example of an English Language Arts aim and objectives for a specific unit of study;
Aim: Students will be expected to respond personally to a range of texts;
Objectives: 1. Students will write written responses to their reading in a reading log once a week.
2. Students will participate in Literature Circles in which they discuss their reading with students in the group. Literature Circles will be held every Thursday and students will come to class ready to discuss the assigned reading.
Teachers measure the students performance by reading the responses in the reading log and by being a facilitator at the group meetings. They will keep detailed notes about the students’ levels of performance.
In the above example, the aim is very broad and is actually a goal across grade levels. The objectives explain how this aim will be achieved and when. The actions of the teacher explain how the objectives will be measured.
A company that has a training program has a set period of time for the trainees to work through the program. The objectives are measured in the performance they exhibit throughout the training period and from the results of tests they take. A program may have the aim of graduating a specific number f people from the program each year.
The objectives must be SMART. This is an acronym for:
S – specific
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
- An aim is abstract, but an objective is very specific.
- There is a time limit on an objective, but not on an aim.