I hear many people complain aboutand say they have difficulty writingthe goals and objectives section of a grant proposal. Sometimes, the problem is merely understanding the difference between a goal and objective, so you don’t confuse the two. In other cases, the problem stems from writing objectives that are too vague.
A goal is an end result and should be written in broad and general terms. It is what you expect the situation will be at the end of the project and should express the project’s ultimate aim or purpose. In many cases, your project will have only one goal. If you find that you seem to be writing a long list of goals (more than three, for instance), make sure you have not begun to write your objectives!
When writing a grant for technology initiatives, remember to keep your goal student- and/or teacher-focused, rather than technology-focused. Stay away from writing a goal that states “every student will have a graphing calculator” or “we will have a fully functioning computer lab.” Instead, concentrate on the skills that students will develop from having access to technology and the impact this access will have on student learning and/or achievement. Funders want to fund projects, not pieces of equipment.
In fact, you may be able to take your goal right from the request for proposals for the grant you are applying for. If the RFP clearly states the program’s goal, use the same wording (with some personalization to reflect your specific circumstances) for your own goal statement.
When writing objectives, on the other hand, there are two key words to remember: specific and measurable. Objectives tell who is going to do what, how it will be done, and when it will be done. Write objectives in terms of learning a skill or behavior that currently doesn’t exist, an increase in positive skills or behaviors that you want to see more of, or a decrease in negative skills or behaviors.
Here are some examples of well-written objectives from technology-related grant proposals:
• “By June 2001, 87 percent of the K-3 students at the targeted schools will demonstrate 80-percent mastery level of the district and state content standards as measured by district benchmarks, TPRI, or TAAS.”
• “Each of the participating school districts will be able to demonstrate four examples during the 1995-96 school year where a seminar or workshop series was offered to students in science, art, sociology, or cultural awareness through interactive television, thus enhancing educational opportunities.”
• “By the end of the 1995-96 school year, 80 percent of the first-grade students will demonstrate the ability to access the online media center catalog and other networked media sources to complete research assignments.”
To determine whether your objectives are measurable, I would recommend the following test. Give your draft of objectives to several individuals and ask them to identify the benchmarks you have set to measure the success of your project. If everyone gives you the same responses for each objective, you are right on the mark! If, however, individuals have trouble identifying the benchmarks or they give you several conflicting answers for the benchmarks of a specific objective, it’s time to go back and revise your objectives before you submit your proposal.
Don’t forget to look at copies of funded proposals to help you design goals and objectives for your project, or to ask for assistance from those who have knowledge and/or expertise in writing goals and objectives. Classroom teachers should take comfort in knowing that designing goals and objectives for grant-funded projects is no different than the process they use to design goals and objectives for their lesson plans.