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Behavioral Objectives and Operational Definitions

The topic of behavioral objectives in education is clearly distinct from that of operational definitions. They have a different origin, since the behavioral objectives movement arises out of behaviorist theory in psychology, while defining concepts “operationally” originated in the quest for clarity in meaning in scientific and everyday life. Though logically distinct, behaviorism and the behavioral objectives movement latched onto operationalism as a method for combating introspection as a source of knowledge of psychological processes and as a way to rid psychological concepts of subjective meaning in the quest for an objectively verifiable science of behavior. This entry discusses operationalism, behavioral objectives, and their use in education, and criticism of the behavioral objectives movement.


“Operationalism” was given full-blooded treatment by the Nobel Prize–winning physicist P. W. ...

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