Through my involvement in Jaycees International (British Junior Chamber, BJC), I was involved in delivering goal setting workshops over 20 years ago (I know, I’m showing my age). I have personally been using written goals for over 25 years. So, I can fully understand the findings of the research outlined in this article:
The article highlights the benefits experienced by undergraduate students, but also suggests that the researchers have gone on to test the experiences of high school students.
In our school, through the student almanac, our students are encouraged to use goal setting for themselves in age appropriate ways. Time is made available each week for the children to review their earlier goals and to work on fresh goals. We encourage them to have goals both directly related to their learning/ studies and, as they get older, related to other aspects of themselves. So, whilst one student might write a goal that relates to their relationship with family members, another might have a goal related to managing their mood/ anger or strong emotions.
With regard to academics, the children are encouraged to have a mix of ‘outcome goals’ – end goals that they want to reach, and ‘process goals’ – those that relate to acquiring or practicing particular learning skills that will help to take them towards their end goals.
Even younger children join in, often using pictures rather than the written word to focus their minds on what they want to do.
My own belief about why this works is because it emphasises for the child, at all times, that they own their own learning, that it’s an active process in which they remain fully engaged. It prevents them falling in to the traps of leaving the effort to the teacher while they simply make themselves passive recipients of knowledge.
We never get too old to benefit from goal setting. I have a diary note for this coming weekend to review mine!