Goal Setting, Problem Solving, and Performance Feedback


Former New York Yankee, Yogi Berra, once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” 

Today’s PCM #14 Goal Setting and Performance Feedback is going to help you help your students develop a plan, assess their progress, and meet their goals.

Goal setting, especially when paired with visual graphing and adding an element of reinforcement, has a high effect size (1.20), so it’s probably worth looking at how to possible integrate into a least some aspect of our teaching practice.

Setting goals alone is not enough

Even as an adult, you’ve probably set some goals in your life that for whatever reason, did not “come true”. That is because setting goals alone is not enough (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?). There are some essential pieces that can help you reach a goal and we can incorporate them into the classroom to help students reach success:

The “SMARTER” the better!

Students should set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound).

Complete my assigned work and turn it in on time everyday this week is a lot more tangible than “Pass this class.

Student can make process goals (building a habit), outcome goals (getting a specific score on  an assignment), or behavioral goals (raising hand when needing help), depending on the situation and desired effect.

Feedback matters!

Students should receive periodic feedback on based on their progress toward reaching their goal. When this feedback comes from both teacher and self, it makes a big impact. From a teacher, good feedback helps the student answer three questions:

1) Where am I going?

2) How am I doing along the way?

3) Where do I go next?

Get students invested in the process

Building self-tracking, self-evaluation, and self-reflection into students’ goal setting routines help to build self-efficacy – the idea that “Yes, I can do it!”.

One of the best ways to do this is to teach students to graph their progress. In this study, students with disabilities were taught how to use Microsoft Excel software to graph their rate of correct math calculations. Remember to provide time for practicing these skills (graphing or other) and for students to verbalize their self-reflection with you, parents, and/or each other.

Working for a payoff

If we think about it, in “real life” our goals have a payoff. Sometimes, the payoff itself is it’s own reward (practicing your swing and winning on the golf course) and sometimes without the payoff, it’s a little harder to stay motivated (cutting out processed food to get healthier, or spending time and money to take PD courses to move up the salary scale).

Perhaps there is some way in your class that students can attain a “payoff” for reaching their goals. Could you set up a small way to reward individual students and/or the entire class for meeting a preset goal?

Why spend time on goal setting and monitoring progress?

Among the many reasons to help students learn how to set goals and monitor/reflect on their progress is:

  • It builds confidence and pride
  • It improves academic performance
  • It increases motivation
  • It challenges students
  • It instills self-efficacy
  • It help students gain life skills

WATCH this video to see the effects of these sixth grade students “owning their own progress”!

No matter at what level each student in your class is performing, helping them set goals, anticipate barriers, plan their steps, and assess their performance will help them go far – in school and in life!

Psychophysiological effects of emotional responding to goal attainment
Effects of Self-Graphing and Goal Setting on the Math Fact Fluency of Students with Disabilities
Goal Setting as a Motivational Tool in Students Self-Regulated Learning
Inspiring progress toward learning goa

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