What Is the Difference Between General and Specific Objectives?

UNESCO explains that the major difference between general objectives and specific objectives is that a general objective is a statement of the trend of the learning activity that describes the general orientation of a learning curriculum. A specific objective also defines the trend of the learning activity, but it is formulated in terms of observable behaviors. The general objective is the first level of specification derived from an aim.

Specific objective are usually expressed in terms of the student, and they are unequivocal, which means that they are expressed clearly and have only one interpretation. They also only describe behaviors that can be observed in the subject. UNESCO also indicates that specific objectives detail the unique conditions for the manifestation of certain behaviors and the criteria that must be met to determine whether the objective has been attained.

An example of a general objective is, “To make the student of information science capable of identifying the needs of users of a particular documentation system.” A specific objective derived from this general objective is, “The student must be able to identify different types of documentary information networks.” From these examples, it is evident that specific objectives are usually derived from general objectives.