Why Is It Important to Establish Learning Goals for Students?

by Daisy Peasblossom Fernchild

Writing out learning goals is a way of stating what your child needs to know. You can set up goals for a class, for home or for personal achievement. When you state a goal, you and your child can track progress better. When your child reaches a goal, you can then set a new learning goal. When they master the goal setting process, students become life-long learners.

What Is a Learning Goal?

A learning goal is a statement of a specific skill or product that a student will be able to do or make at the end of an activity. For example, if your child is learning to make a cake, your goals for her might be to use measuring tools to measure the ingredients accurately, to read and follow a recipe and to use a timer to know when the food finishes cooking. The two of you might share making several cakes. When she has met the goals, she might be ready to make a cake on her own.

Why Set Learning Goals

Setting a goal gives the learner a benchmark toward which to strive. When a student has a specific goal, such as knowing addition, subtraction and multiplication math facts, they can develop ownership of the learning process. For example, she might know that her teacher wants her to be able to answer a set of simple problems within a specific period. Armed with this knowledge, she can practice on her own or with parents until she is able to do the problems within the specified amount of time. She is then ready for more challenging math goals.

Goals Make the Journey Easier

Goals give a direction. If you were a miner during the gold rush, you would have had a hard time finding mines if you didn't even know the direction in which to travel toward the gold fields. Goals create a destination. When you know where you need to go, you won't travel to New York when you need to be in California. If your child's learning goal is to learn basic math facts, she knows that she does not have to study spelling words to reach that benchmark. Goals create a destination that can let parents and instructors create a road map for the learning process.

Complex Learning Goals

Not every learning goal is as simple as learning basic math facts. For example, your child will need to master several skills in order to do math word problems. She will need to know the math facts, to be able to read and understand the problem and she will need to be able to select the math computation process needed to answer the question. Learning to answer word problems would therefore require at least three learning goals in order for the student to be successful. With those goals in mind, an instructor or parent can plan a sequence of learning exercises that will promote success.

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