Behavioral Objectives In Christian Education: A Need For Integration -- By: Stuart S. Cook

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 02:2 (Fall 1981)
Article: Behavioral Objectives In Christian Education: A Need For Integration
Author: Stuart S. Cook


Behavioral Objectives In Christian Education:
A Need For Integration

Stuart S. Cook

Scofield Memorial Church, Dallas

One of the significant developments in education in the 60s and 70s has been an increased interest in behavioral objectives. Dr. W. James Popham, one of the leading exponents of behavioral objectives in the United States, traces his interest in behavioral objectives back to 1960, indicating the relatively recent beginning of this phenomenon.1 The last twenty years have witnessed an exponential growth in the use of behavioral objectives in curriculum development and instruction.

As expected, the reaction to this phenomenon among Christian educators has been mixed. Some have adopted the terminology and philosophy of behavioral objectives wholeheartedly, while others have rejected this technology all together, due to its association with behaviorism as a philosophy.2 In a recent article, Dr. Kenneth O. Gangel has raised a dissenting voice to the wholesale use of behavioral objectives in Christian education.3 While he tries to draw a balance, I believe he errs on the side of criticism of behavioral objectives. He does not weigh all of the evidence clearly; he formulates some bad definitions of key terms and he overreacts against the use of behavioral objectives with some objections that are not convincing.

This article is an attempt to neutralize some of Gangel’s objections to behavioral objectives and to lay the groundwork for integrating this popular technology into a total philosophy of Christian education. To do this it will be helpful to summarize some of the key ideas about behavioral objectives.

A behavioral objective is a statement of desired student growth which expresses achievement in terms of student performance or behavior. Proponents of behavioral objectives have emphasized that the objectives, if they are to serve a function in shaping the educational process, must be stated in terms of what the student does to demonstrate achievement rather than what the

teacher does in the process of instruction.4

The student growth thus described in terms of his performance or behavior is generally classified into one of three major domains: cognitive, affective, or psychomotor. The cognitive domain deals with behaviors that are associated with mental acts or thinking.5 The affective domain deals with behaviors that are linked to attitude...

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