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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on the Development and Use of Behavioral Objectives

1970 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia


In many states teachers are being required to write and structure curriculum according to behavioral objectives before they are convinced of the appropriateness or necessity of so doing. Be it therefore


Resolved, that when members of the National Council of Teachers of English are put in the position to use or develop behavioral objectives, they assert their right to have satisfactory answers, supported by adequate evidence, to the following questions, among others:

  • Do changes of surface behavior constitute real changes in the language competence of learners?
  • Does performance on test items adequately measure cognitive and affective growth in the areas of literature and composition?
  • Does the concern to control short-term, easily measured objectives work against the attainment of basic long-range goals?
  • Are behavioral objectives relevant to and modifiable by students in planning curriculum?
  • Are behavioral objectives and their sequencing based on sound theory and research on the processes, competencies, and behaviors being developed?
  • Are behavioral objectives, the methods of their presentation, and the system of intrinsic and extrinsic reinforcement likely to cause any unintentional learning, emotional strain, or other unplanned outcomes detrimental to the well-being of the learners? Be it further

Resolved, that concerned teachers ask: Who has the professional and moral right to predetermine and control what shall or shall not be the limits of acceptable behavior of young people? In short, do we help students grow or shape them to a mold?

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