min read

Break the "set it and forget it" culture of goal-setting

One of the most common reasons why student goal-setting falls short from the get go is due to a "set it and forget it" culture.

As a secondary school teacher, I have asked plenty of students in my own classes to review an assessment or reflect an outcome they are working towards and set a goal to guide them. Only to have this goal lost in their exercise book or a filing cabinet and never to be seen again.

What causes this problem and how to fix it?

Our research suggests that a root cause this problem is because student goal-setting practices are poorly integrated into existing learning tools and practices. Students tell us that goal-setting feels like an onerous add-on to learning as opposed to a constructive scaffold to support learning.

Here are three ways to eliminate the set it and forget it culture of goal-setting.

1. Chunking a goal into an action plan

Action plans help students stay on task by helping them recognise what to do next when they are working on achieving their goals and later reflect on the steps they took along the way. An action plan can look as simple as laying out a series of time bound steps to tick off. In the beginning, starting with simple steps is much better.

2. Improve self-regulation by guided reflections

Naturally, self-regulation requires students to stop, pause and think when they get stuck on solving a challenge. Guided reflections help students to manage this process and give direction when uncertainty creeps into the process. As students become more skilled at self-regulation they can be encouraged to manage their own reflective process.

3. Improve student-teacher relationships by checking-in regularly

Empower your students to check-in with you if they are stuck or they need further advice to progress on their work. Students are more likely to be engaged in the work when they know that their teacher cares and checks in on them, cheers them on and provides meaningful feedback. When you do check-in, ask students to show you what they have done on their action plans

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