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The Impact of Goal Setting for Students

by Soheila Battaglia, studioD

The acts of setting, planning and accomplishing goals can have a positive impact on students of all ages. This practice, whether done individually or in groups, can give students direction, motivate them, raise their grades and build their self-esteem. Parents and teachers can strengthen this process by being encouraging and supportive of students' objectives.

Provides a Plan for Success

What differentiates a goal from a wish is the plan one creates to accomplish what one desires. Since creating the blueprint for their realization is inherent to setting objectives, when students set goals they also formulate a clear track to follow. These clearly delineated steps provide a direction so students know how to get where they are going. When creating a plan to realize goals, students should prioritize their objectives and break larger goals into smaller, more achievable steps. For example, if a student sets a goal to read a novel by the end of the month, she can break up the objective into a daily task of reading ten pages a night. By having a plan, students are guided toward their accomplishments.

Provides Motivation

Setting goals provides students something specific to strive for, which can result in higher motivation. For example, if a high school student sets a goal to be accepted to a particular university, she will be motivated throughout high school to study hard and participate in extracurricular activities. Also, group or class-wide goals can motivate students because their performance and effort is held accountable by their teammates, who hold a stake in the goal's success. An example of a collective goal can be to complete a group presentation within a determined time period. Setting clear expectations for themselves can drive students to reach their targets.

Raises Grades

One impact of goal setting is to improve students' academic performance. By working toward their goals -- whether personal or academic -- students cultivate a healthy discipline and work ethic that can translate into classroom performance. For example, if a student sets a goal to be accepted on the swim team, the habit and routine of practice necessitates creating a daily regimen. This, in turn, can cause the student to more effectively manage his study time, thereby raising his grades.

Builds Confidence

Setting goals emphasizes a student's ability to accomplish and succeed. Every step that a student completes reinforces her sense of skill and self-confidence. The act of setting a goal requires a student to believe in herself enough to presume she can follow through and complete a task. She can also take pride in the accomplishment of her goals; this pride can be reinforced by teachers, parents and friends through monitoring of a student's success along the way. The confidence students gain can impact them in the long term, making them more confident in interviews, relationships and careers.

About the Author

Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.

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