Curriculum Evaluation Using Tyler’s Goal Attainment Model or Objectives-Centered Model

In this article  I will describe the Tyler model while emphasizing its evaluative component. I will use the DeKalb County Science Curriculum in my analysis. Specifically, I will use Dunwoody High School students’ outcomes data (end of course test-EOCT) for physical science and biology to evaluate the curriculum. However, before I start the evaluation, I will provide a brief overview of the Tyler model (what is it? what are its parts? and what are the criticisms of the model?) and finally I will conclude by summarizing the steps I followed to complete the evaluation.

Tyler’s goal attainment model or sometimes called the objectives-centered model is the basis for most common models in curriculum design, development and evaluation. The Tyler model is comprised of four major parts. These are: 1) defining objectives of the learning experience; 2) identifying learning activities for meeting the defined objectives; 3) organizing the learning activities for attaining the defined objectives; and 4) evaluating and assessing the learning experiences. In this paper I will most deal with the evaluation component of the model. However, before I start evaluating the science curriculum for DeKalb County, I start with a brief discussion of the Tyler model, what it is, its parts, and what it emphasizes.

The Tyler Model begins by defining the objectives of the learning experience. These objectives must have relevancy to the field of study and to the overall curriculum (Keating, 2006). Tyler’s model obtains the curriculum objectives from three sources: 1) the student, 2) the society, and 3) the subject matter. When defining the objectives of a learning experience Tyler gives emphasis on the input of students, the community and the subject content. Tyler believes that curriculum objectives that do not address the needs and interests of students, the community and the subject matter will not be the best curriculum. The second part of the Tyler’s model involves the identification of learning activities that will allow students to meet the defined objectives. To emphasis the importance of identifying learning activities that meets defined objectives, Tyler states that “the important thing is for students to discover content that is useful and meaningful to them” (Meek, 1993, p. 83). In a way Tyler is a strong supporter of the student-centered approach to learning. Overall, Tyler’s model is designed to measure the degree to which pre-defined objectives and goals have been attained. In addition, the model focus primarily on the product rather than the process for achieving the goals and objectives of the curriculum. Therefore, Tyler’s model is product focused. It evaluates the degree to which the pre-defined goals and objectives have been attained.

There are several criticisms leveled at the Tyler’s goal attainment model or the Tyler’s objective centered model. The first criticism is that, it is difficult and time consuming to construct behavioral objectives. Tyler’s model relies mainly on behavioral objectives. The objectives in Tyler’s model comes from three sources (the student, the society, and the subject matter) and all the three sources have to agree on what objectives needs to be addressed. This is a cumbersome process. Thus, it is difficult to arrive to consensus easily among the various stakeholders groups. The second criticism is that, it is too restrictive and covers a small range of student skills and knowledge. The third criticism is that Tyler’s model is too dependent on behavioral objectives and it is difficult to declare plainly in behavioral objectives the objectives that covers none specific skills such as those for critical thinking, problem solving, and the objectives related to value acquiring processes (Prideaux, 2003). The fourth and last criticism is that the objectives in the Tyler’s model are too student centered and therefore the teachers are not given any opportunity to manipulate the learning experiences as they see fit to evoke the kind of learning outcome desired.

To evaluate the DeKalb County School System Science Curriculum, I downloaded the DeKalb County physical science and biology curriculum at a glance from the districts’ website. After a careful look at the curriculum, I realized that both the biology and physical science curriculum does not fit the many definitions of a true curriculum. They are plainly instructional guides with standards, units to be covered, and the time allocation for each unit. In my understanding, a curriculum should encompasses more than a list of standards, units, and time allocations. According to Robert Gagne (1966) curriculum encompasses four categories. These categories are: 1) subject matter or content, 2) statements of end objectives or goals, 3) the sequencing of content, and finally 4) pre-assessment of skills. The DeKalb County Science Curricular for physical science and biology lack many of these features.

The Dekalb County Science Curriculum at a glance document does not appear to meet Kerr’s definition of curriculum either.  According to Kerr (1968) a curriculum is “all the learning which is planned and guided by school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school (Kerr, J. 1968, as cited in Kelly A. V. 2009, p.12). Kerr’s definition of the curriculum together with Gagne’s categories of the curriculum appears to encompass more than just the standards, the units covered, and the time allocated for each unit. In other words, a curriculum is much broader than a course syllabus or a curriculum guide and it includes both the planned and the unplanned consequences/effects of the curriculum.

In order to evaluate the biology and physical science curricular at Dunwoody High School, I created a table containing the Spring EOCT scores for the two courses. The data spans a range of three years, from spring of 2011 to spring of 2013. I will also compare Dunwoody EOCT scores with the entire DeKalb Country scores to the score summary of the whole state of Georgia.

Spring 2011 to 2013 EOCT Score Summary

Location Biology Physical Science

% Pass


% Pass


% Pass


% Pass


% Pass


% Pass

Dunwoody High School 74 85 84 78 73 72
DeKalb County 59 62 63 66 66 83
State of Georgia 70 73 75 76 78 67


Based on the data for the past three years, Dunwoody High School has been meeting the science curricular objectives in physical science and biology. The year per year pass rates for biology are much higher at Dunwoody High School than they are for the rest of the county. For example, in 2011, Dunwoody High School students pass rate for the EOCT biology was 12% higher than the rest of the DeKalb County average. In the same year, Dunwoody High School outperformed the state average percentage pass rates by 4%.  Thus, the biology percentage pass rates appear to be much higher at Dunwoody High School when compared to the state’s EOCT percent pass averages for the same period.

Similar trends are observed in the percent pass rates of the EOCT scores in physical science. Dunwoody High school met the physical science curriculum objectives in the year 2011 to 2013. Dunwoody High School data shows a higher percent pass rate when compared to the average percent pass rates for the Dekalb County. For example, in the year 2012, Dunwoody High School had 10% more of its students pass the EOCT in physical science than the average percent pass rate of the entire county. However, Dunwoody High School percent pass rates for physical science was 5% lower than the average percent pass rate of the state of Georgia. Overall, Dunwoody High School appears to meet the science curricular objectives in both biology and physical science. I would recommend Dunwoody High School to set yearly improvement goals that will help the school to increase the percent pass rates in physical science from the mid 70’s to high 80’s in the next three years. In addition, I would recommend Dunwoody High School to set yearly improvement goals for biology from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s in the next three years.

In summary, I decided to evaluate the DeKalb County science curricular because of my interest in understanding the county’s science curriculum. I chose two courses (biology and physical science) that have the End of Course Tests to accomplish the evaluation task. In evaluating the two subjects, I chose to use achievement test data (EOCT). The EOCT data are readily available in the County website. In this evaluation, I chose the traditional perspective. The traditional perspective allowed me to look at the objectives, the data, and compare those to the percent pass scores of the students for the school, the county, and the state. This allowed me to determine whether the objectives were met or not and if they were met, by what degree?

I visited Dunwoody High School on numerous occasions during this exercise. I believe technology plays a bigger role on how students learn and achieve on the achievement tests. Dunwoody High School has three fully functional computer labs. In addition, the science department has  one hundred STEM LAB laptops, fifty IPADs, and eighty hand-held student response systems which provides opportunities for students to practice what they have learning in class using gizmos and virtual labs. Dunwoody High School also uses the flipped classroom model. I believe the combination of in class instruction and virtual classrooms help Dunwoody High School students to meet the science curricular objectives for the county and the state.




Gagne, R. W. (1967). Curriculum research and the pro- motion of learning. In R. W. Tyler, R. M. Gagne, & M. Scriven (Eds.), Perspectives of curricular evaluation. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Prideaux, D. (2003). Curriculum design: ABC of learning and teaching in medicine. British Medical Journal, 326(7383): 268-270.

Meek, A. (1993). On setting the highest standards: A conversation with Ralph Tyler. Educational Leadership, 50, 83-86.

Kerr, J. F. (1968). The problem of curriculum reform, in John F. Kerr (Ed.), changing the curriculum. London: University of London Press.

Keating, S. (2006). Curriculum development and evaluation in nursing. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


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