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Goals, Objectives, Measures, and Approaches

EOPC defines "goals" as what a given program aims to achieve and "objectives" as those strategies or methods the program will use to try to accomplish its goals. Goals do not have to be measurable. For example, a legitimate goal for a program could be to "improve the campus climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons." This goal would fit in under the second challenge articulated in A Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State: 2010-2015 , Creating a Welcoming Campus Climate. However, "improving" campus climate, simply stated, is not measurable but, for goals, no measure is needed. This goal can stand as written.

Objectives, on the other hand, must be measurable. For each goal the proposal must state measurable objectives which, if attained, should lead to the goal. For example, one objective for the goal of improving the campus climate for LGBT persons could be to "conduct workshops that focus on the experiences of LGBT persons." However, even this statement is vague. How many workshops? How many people will attend? When will they occur? A better objective for this goal would read, "conduct at least three workshops during the fall semester that focus on the experiences of LGBT persons" or, better yet, "conduct at least three workshops during the fall semester that focus on the experiences of LGBT people that will have at least 25 people in attendance for each workshop." This objective is truly measurable because you can "measure" whether or not the objective was met. When you evaluate such an objective during the program evaluation phase of the program, you will be able to report on the number of workshops and the number of people in attendance at each workshop, which will determine if you met your objective or not. The point is not simply to be able to say, "yes, the objective was met" or "no, it was not met" (although "Yes/No" evaluations are important). You may not technically meet an objective (say, less than 25 people were in attendance at your workshops) but still be able to conclude that your program accomplished your goal given your accomplishments against an objective measure (i.e., you conducted three workshops which had 15-20 people in attendance, which is close to attaining the objective as stated). Any goal can have one objective or several objectives.

Note: Objectives differ from Outcomes in that objectives describe the process used to attain program goals whereas outcomes are metrics that provide concrete evidence that the goals have been attained. For example, if a goal is to improve the graduation rates of a group of students, one of the objectives might be to conduct study sessions designed to improve academic skills whereas one of the projected outcomes might be that the average GPA of program students for a given class or for a semester might be 3.00 (instead of a lower GPA, e.g., 2.50, which might be expected for the group if the students did not participate in the program). Objectives are oriented to the means whereas outcomes are oriented to the end.

The "Measure" column gives you an opportunity to summarize the measure(s) you identify in each objective. For example, for the objective mentioned above, you might put in the Measure column, "Three workshops/Fall Semester/At least 25 people." The Measure column is simply there to reinforce that objectives must be measurable and to give you and proposal evaluation teams a convenient place to identify the exact measure(s) for each objective.

"Approaches" define how you plan to accomplish your objectives. For the objective above, you might indicate who will lead the workshops, how you will advertise, etc. The point of approaches is to give the evaluation committee an idea of how well you have thought through how you might meet your objectives.