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Goal Setting

The effectiveness of an education program can often be improved when appropriate goals are set in place by the teachers and students. There are a multitude of benefits that exist for students when specific learning goals are set. The greatest benefit is achieved when the students have a role in forming the goals as they will feel more ownership and accountability towards the goals. Posting the goals in the classroom will serve as a visual reminder of the commitment they have made.

Why should teachers consider using goal setting as a teaching tool?

Most successful people say that part of the reason for their success is because they practiced goal setting in their personal and professional life. However, goal setting is typically not taught in education institutions. When it is used, in most cases, it is not practiced effectively. There are a variety of reasons why teachers should practice goal setting. First, goal setting will force the teacher to think critically about what the important concepts are and how a subject should be taught. This is especially crucial for teachers of science and math, as these subjects set the stage for a lot of conceptual understanding of how the world works. It is important to communicate the correct concepts from the start because it harder to change peoples' misconceptions once they are formed. The longer a student has lived with a misconception, the harder it is to change.

Once the goals are set, they help to keep students and teacher focused on the items that were identified as important. One of the main difficulties students have is being able to separate the information that they really need to know from all the other less important information that is thrown at them. Goals give the students a clear picture of what the expectations are and where to focus their time and attention. Goals also give students something to strive for. This is important because it helps to motivate the student and it also provides a sense of accomplishment when goals are reached. Finally, an important argument for using goal setting in the classroom that should not be overlooked is that it teaches students how to practice goal setting.

So, what should teachers take into consideration while setting and implementing goals?

The goals selected should be focused on understand not just on accomplishing specific task. For example, a goal for students studying X-rays should be focused on understanding why X-rays with shorter wavelength have more penetrating power and not just that they do. When possible, the goals selected should be stated so that the students can see that what they are learning has an importance outside of the classroom. Once a student understands the reason for needing to know the information, they are more likely to become active learners.

There are two other factors that need to be considered when setting and implementing goals for education purposes. First, each goals should be followed by objectives that tell how that goal will be accomplished (i.e. what behaviors will be demonstrated by the students). Second, the goals should all be supported by good science or research. This allows the teacher to backup and explain why a goal is important or valid.

In summary, with the appropriate goals implemented in the classroom, students will be forced to take a more active role in their learning process. They will also likely develop a continuous interest in and concern about the world around them, which is important in developing lifelong learners. Students will also develop goal setting and flexible thinking skills that will be useful throughout their life.

Teacher Tips

Appreciating and Valuing Diversity

Are You Really Listening?

Coaching for Success in the Classroom

Goal Setting

Developing an Interest in Science and Math

Developing Communication Skills

Developing Problem-solving Skills

Effective Discipline

Encouraging Cooperative Learning

Encouraging Creativity

Encouraging Students to Explore for Answers

Fostering Independent Thinking

Motivating Students

Overcoming the Fear of Making a Mistake

Practicing Effective Questioning


Self-Evaluation Using Video

Teaching with the Constructivist Learning Theory

Teamwork in the Classroom

There is Not Always Just One Right Answer

Understanding Different Learning Styles