Setting Educational Goals
Goal setting is a powerful way to improve educational performance by helping to focus effort on specific objectives. Effective goals are specific, measurable, and moderately difficult but still attainable. Writing, reflecting, sharing, and planning for goals increase the likelihood of reaching them.
The Power of Goal Setting
We all have hopes of being good students, but it’s not always clear how to make those hopes become reality. This is where goal setting comes in: “Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action.”1
Countless studies have shown that goal setting can improve performance by increasing self-regulation, effort, persistence, and efficiency. Goal setting can be one of the most powerful tools to help you get the most out of your education, but in order to tap into this power you must learn how to set goals.
Setting effective goals
The most effective goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Sound like a lot to remember? Use the acronym SMART:
It’s hard to reach a goal if you don’t know exactly what you’re striving for.
Less effective: I will be a better student.
More effective: I will start working on assignments the day they are assigned.
Setting measurable goals will allow you to track your progress and know when you’ve reached your objective.
Less effective: I will work harder.
More effective: I will dedicate x number of hours to studying each day.
You will not work toward a goal if you know it’s impossible to reach or if you cannot control the outcome.
Less effective: I will get a perfect score on every assignment the entire semester
More effective: I will turn in every assignment on time.
Although goals need to be attainable, if they are too easy no growth will occur. Make sure your goals will encourage you to improve.
Less effective: I will try to go to a couple of classes this semester.
More effective: I will be on time for all my classes this semester.
Finally, setting a time limit on your goal will help keep you focused and make sure you actually reach the goal.
Less Effective: I will start my research paper soon.
More effective: I will start my research paper by the end of the week.
Don’t get discouraged
Even if you don’t reach every goal, the effort expended and improvements made are what count. Learning and improvement are the end, and goals are simply the means to reach that end.
- Preach My Gospel, p. 146