217872049At the beginning of the term we often encourage students to set goals. One suggested scheme is SMART goal setting. First discussed by George Doran in 1981, the acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time Dependent

A goal like “study hard” is replaced by a SMART goal would be expanded to say something like “spend at least 3 hours a week outside of class on homework and studying.”  Most of us cannot realistically have a goal of being a 7 ft. 4 in center in the NBA. We might be able to practice to a point where we can shoot free throws at a 75% success rate. As you help your students create their goals for the term, keep the above in mind. If they set SMART goals, it will be much easier for them to know if they actually achieved them!

Another good idea with respect to goals is to try to make behavioral goals rather than achievement goals.

Some goals are not in our control (like being 7 ft. 4 in). Goals like passing boards, getting an A in a class, even getting a degree are not directly in students’ control. However, attending class, doing assigned work and reading, and studying for tests are all things a student can do. These behaviors often lead to their outcome goals. So if there is an outcome goal, like getting an A in a class, it needs to be followed up with the behavior goals that will support it.

In setting behavior goals that are also SMART your students will have a clear idea of what they need to do to be successful in your class. You can meet George Doran on this video here.