"High-quality goal setting makes students think about the big picture rather than compartmentalizing school, so education becomes part of their master plan for themselves rather than something imposed on them from the outside."
When students don’t succeed, it’s often because content and curriculum seem distant or arbitrary. Many learners find it hard to engage with material when they don’t see how it connects to their lives, and others find it hard to buy into lessons and classes that they don’t see as transparently valuable. Of course, this material is almost always valuable and connected to their lives in some way, but if educators can’t make that clear to them, then they’re setting students up to disengage.
One of the best ways to make the entire curriculum more meaningful for students is through goal setting. When students set goals, it makes their time at school infinitely more purposeful and increases synergy between the work done in class and activities done at home. That’s because high-quality goal setting makes students think about the big picture rather than compartmentalizing school, so education becomes part of their master plan for themselves rather than something imposed on them from the outside.
Goal setting works best when there is strong student voice and choice from individual learners as well as insightful guidance and support from teachers. At the beginning of a year or grading term, a teacher could begin by outlining the main goals of the class moving forward. For example, in a middle school English class, they might be working on evidence-based argumentative writing. The teacher could set the overarching goal for all learners as “Write an argumentative essay with the most persuasive possible evidence.”
That would be a great start for everyone, but an even better approach would be to then invite students to articulate that goal in a way that’s authentic to their voice and personal goals. For example, students might write, “Convince my parents that I deserve a new video game console for my next birthday,” or “Prove to my sensei that I’m ready for my black belt.” While these goals aren’t necessarily written in the language of school, they both articulate authentic ways in which learning about argumentative writing in English class will be a valuable pursuit.
Of course, for this process to be most effective, students must be familiar with how to structure and articulate goals so they are clear, strong and achievable. This is where educational technology can provide support. Strong learning relationship management platforms (LRMs) contain goal setting tools that walk students through the process step by step. Using SMART Goal methodology, these platforms ensure students are creating goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-sensitive. As they set goals each year, term, or class, students internalize these processes over time, setting them up for success in college, career and adult life.
Learning is always most accessible and most powerful when it’s transparently valuable and incorporates student voice. Goal setting is one of the simplest and best ways that educators can help students make those connections and succeed.
To learn more about how an LRM can support student goal setting, schedule a demo of Epiphany Learning today!