Instructional Goals and Objectives

Psychomotor Objectives

Image in public domain, Surgeons performing and operation.

This domain is characterized by progressive levels of behaviors from observation to mastery of a physical skill. Several different taxonomies exist.

Simpson (1972) built this taxonomy on the work of Bloom and others:

Dave (1970) developed this taxonomy:

Harrow (1972) developed this taxonomy. It is organized according to the degree of coordination including involuntary responses and learned capabilities:

The following table is a synthesis of the above taxonomies:

Psychomotor Domain Hierarchy
Level Definition Example
Observing Active mental attending of a physical event. The learner watches a more experienced person. Other mental activity, such as reading may be a part of the observation process.
Imitating Attempted copying of a physical behavior. The second step in learning a psychomotor skill. The learner is observed and given direction and feedback on performance. Movement is not automatic or smooth.
Practicing Trying a specific physical skill over and over. The skill is repeated over and over. The entire sequence is performed repeatedly. Movement is moving towards becoming automatic and smooth.
Adapting Fine tuning. Making minor adjustments in the physical activity in order to perfect it. The skill is perfected. A mentor or a coach is often needed to provide an outside perspective on how to improve or adjust as needed for the situation.

Here are key verbs for each level you can use when writing psychomotor objectives:

  • bend
  • calibrates
  • constructs
  • differentiate (by touch)
  • dismantles
  • displays
  • fastens
  • fixes
  • grasp
  • grinds
  • handle
  • heats
  • manipulates
  • measures
  • mends
  • mixes
  • operate
  • organizes
  • perform (skillfully)
  • reach
  • relax
  • shorten
  • sketches
  • stretch
  • write

Additional Links

Offline References

Dave, R.H., in R. J. Armstrong et al., Developing and Writing Behavioral Objectives (Tucson, AZ:  Educational Innovators Press, 1970).

Harrow, A.J. (1972). A taxonomy of the psychomotor domain. New York: David McKay Co.

Simpson, E. (1972). The classification of educational objectives in the psychomotor domain: The psychomotor domain. Vol. 3. Washington, DC: Gryphon House.