How can Individual Goal Setting enhance Student Performance?

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Check Out the New Blog Individual goal setting enhances student learning.The words aim, purpose and goal are commonly used in a class by teachers in the hope of motivating students to perform better. A close look at our teaching techniques reveal that it is generally the educators who work hard to instill a sense of purpose or goal among their students. This makes us wonder if a student knows how to set his own goals and attain them.

What is individual goal setting?

A “goal” by definition means the end towards which our effort is directed. Therefore, when every individual student sets his own goals, he has an understanding of what to achieve and can develop strategies to achieve these goals. Simply put, individual goal setting is a policy that students can employ to make learning self-directed, purposeful and organized.

Understanding goal setting

Goal setting is a powerful yet challenging process that encourages students to aim higher. Before embarking on the act of setting goals, students should be clear on what goal setting entails. Educate them on the meaning of goals setting. You may give them examples of your goals and encourage them to share some as well.

It is important to instruct them on the meaning of short term and long term goals. Short term goals can also be intermediary goals for achieving long term goals.

Students should also be ready to formulate an action plan or an implementation step. An action plan is the steps that will help the students attain their set goals. For example: If the goal is to write an article on a particular topic, the action plan may be –

  • Research and collect material on the topic and organize the content
  • Write the article
  • Revise and make necessary corrections
  • Final editing and submission of work.

Once the students understand the goal setting process, they can try formulating their own goals. Educators may need yo help them initially. Remind them that their goals need to be realistic, clear and measurable. This is to prevent students from setting goals too high only to be frustrated when they are not able to achieve it.


Goal setting should not be like New Year resolutions – once set and never looked at again.

Encourage your students to achieve their goals using the following methods:

Visualization – Read through your goals again and visualize having achieved the outcome. Positive visualization will motivate students to implement their action plans.

Check it – Some like to strike it, others to star it, but once a step has been completed, put a checker on it. Each check symbolizes your progress towards the goal.

Revise – In case of any difficulties, be ready to revise your goals or action plan. Decide on some intermediary goals. Achieving these will build up the student’s confidence to proceed further.

Celebrate – Learning should be fun. Celebrate the attainment of a goal before starting afresh on the next one.

Benefits of Goal setting

Active involvement: As the goals and action plan are set by the students themselves, they work actively towards achieving it. Active participation is beneficial as it equals increased learning.

Decision making and Problem solving: Setting goals and attaining them are like pieces of a puzzle. Students need to fit the pieces together to form the whole picture. The activity improves their cognitive skills and students are equipped to make the right choices and deal with any difficulties.

Accomplishment: Creating the goals, action plan and working towards it strengthens the student’s sense of accomplishment. This in turn improves their self confidence and motivates them to perform better in class.

Self-esteem: Goal setting does wonders to a student’s self esteem. As opposed to their previously restricted view of their abilities, goal setting encourages them to believe in themselves. Thus students are persuaded to aim higher, explore their immense potential and advance their learning.

Individual goal setting, therefore, frees a student from restricted thinking, broadens the scope of education and opens up numerous possibilities of them excelling.

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