According to goal setting theory, two people with the same skills and knowledge perform very differently on the same task if they have different performance goals because their goals ultimately determine their motivation to succeed. Whoever is more driven to succeed will likely do so.

One longitudinal study looked at the relationship between goal setting and student achievement in over 1200 high school students learning Spanish. The researchers performed a correlational analysis that revealed a statistically significant relationship between the process of setting goals and students’ proficiency in Spanish.

Let’s take a look at what SMART goals are and why they are so valuable. SMART goals are statements that turn vague intentions into an actionable plan. They provide you with a strategy to achieve your vision by guiding you to set objectives that fit into the “SMART” mold. The SMART acronym exists in a variety of forms, but each one touches on the same fundamental ideas.

Here, SMART goals are defined as Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Specific: If a goal isn’t explicit and precise, your efforts won’t be either. To be specific, a goal should be written with no wiggle room when asking who, what, when, where, or why.

Measurable: If your goal is measurable, there will be some way you can measure your progress at any point along the way.

Achievable: Working toward your goal can either lead to satisfaction, which will motivate you to push yourself even harder–or it will lead to frustration if you don’t see any progress, which can make you want to quit. After taking all other factors into consideration, ask yourself how realistic it is to attain your goal. This will help you determine if it’s achievable.

Relevant: It’s important that your goals matter to you or else you will be quick to abandon them after hitting an obstacle. If your goal is relevant, you will answer “yes” to these questions: Is working toward this goal worthwhile? Is now the right time? Will achieving this goal move me closer to my ultimate vision?

Time-Bound: Your SMART goals need a deadline so you stay focused and prevent other less important tasks from taking priority and becoming a distraction. With a sense of urgency, you will know what you can do today, next week, and next month to make progress toward achieving your goal.

Younger learners have the perfect opportunity to build their goal setting skills. These skills will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Developing them now helps students design their futures in whatever unique way is personally meaningful to them. Very young students benefit from learning how to set goals because it gives them the opportunity to experience small wins, which helps them develop self-confidence and belief in themselves.

For each goal set in Classworks the following is established:

  • What exactly do you want to accomplish?

  • How will you know that you met your goal?

  • How will you meet your goal?

  • How confident are you in your ability to meet this goal?

  • When will you meet your goal?

Answering these questions ensures students are working within the SMART framework for each goal. Classworks SMART goal setting also allows space for an ongoing dialogue between students and teachers as students set and achieve their SMART goals.

Goals can be written by students or written by teachers for individuals or groups of students. Setting and achieving goals gives students a greater sense of autonomy in their learning, which leads to higher levels of motivation to succeed. Find out more about setting SMART goals in Classworks here.

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