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( By J.-J. Guilbert )

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Chapter 1: Priority health problems and educational objectives - Introduction


Priority health problems and educational objectives


The aims of this first chapter are to show: that the health problems of the community must be taken as the starting-point for the construction of a relevant educational programme; the advantages of defining educational objectives on the basis of professional tasks; that if the precision and clarity of these objectives are important, their relevance to health problems is even more so; and that an approach based on objectives will ensure that health personnel are better prepared to perform a role that is relevant to the health problems of society.

Those interested in this approach should read the following works by R.F. Mager:

Preparing instructional objectives (1962).

Goal analysis (1972).

Measuring instructional intent (1973) (Chapter III, pages 15 to 46) Fearon Publishers, California, USA.

And the following publication by the World Health Organization:

Criteria for the evaluation of learning objectives in the education of health personnel (1977) WHO Technical Report Series No. 608.

After having studied this chapter and the reference documents mentioned you should be able to:

1. Define the following terms: professional task, activities, functions, role, institutional objectives; specific objective; domains of practical skills, communication skills and intellectual skills.

2. List the health problems in your own community in order of priority.*

3. Analyse the causes of these problems.*

4. Identify the parts of the system of which your establishment is a part and list the actors (organizations or people) who either utilize or collaborate with the health services.*

5. Define the professional functions of a member of the health team whom your teaching institution is responsible for training (general educational objectives) so as to deal with the health problems of society.*

6. Analyse a major professional function by defining the various intermediate components (activities) making it up.*

7. Define a professional task and identify its components (domains of practical skills, communication skills and intellectual skills).*

8. Draw up a list of the specific educational objectives relating to a professional task, stating explicitly what you feel the student should be able to do after a given course of instruction (that he was not able to do previously) and corresponding to the domains of the communication skills or practical skills involved in this activity.*

9. Taking a specific objective in a non-cognitive domain (i.e. practical skills or attitudes), define in terms of contributing educational objectives what theoretical knowledge you feel the student should possess if he is to attain that objective.*

10. Make a critical analysis of specific educational objectives (listed by a colleague), indicating in particular whether they include all the requisite elements (act, content, conditions, criteria).*

11. Draw up a list of the possible reactions of colleagues with whom you work in your faculty to the idea of having to define educational objectives derived from professional tasks, and propose strategies for overcoming those reactions.*

* Work in small groups is recommended for these objectives. Individual work will usually be appropriate for the others.

If you are not certain of where you are going you may very well end up somewhere else (and not even know it)




Every individual should have access to a type ofeducation that permits maximum development of his potential and capabilities.


Education is aprocess, the chief goal of which is to bring about change in humanbehaviour.


Theresult of education is an expected change in thebehaviour of the student in the course of a given period.

This “behaviour” will be defined explicitly in the form of educational objectives derived from professional tasks that respond to the priority health problems of the community.

An evaluation system will be planned so that better educational decisions can be taken.

A programme will be prepared and implemented to facilitate attainment of educational objectives by the students.

The evaluation process will be used to measure the extent to which the objectives have been achieved... it will measure the student's final abilities ... and the effectiveness of programme and teachers.

This is the Educational Planning Spiral