Thursday, December 08, 2005

Goal Setting

Self-Regulation through Goal Setting
If I'm going to look at learning goals, digging into some research on goal setting probably isn't a bad idea. This ERIC Digest had me thinking hard tonight about the value of 43 Things in choosing and pursuing goals. It covers research into effective goal setting in learning and summarizes strategies:
* Subdivide a long-term goal into proximal sub-goals. Help learners determine what sub-goals must be accomplished to attain their long-term goals.
* View the goals as reasonable and commit to attempt to attain them. Provide verbal encouragement (e.g., "You can do this.") to learners to help motivate them to accomplish their goals.
* Self-monitor progress. Students must learn how to gauge progress in learning or performance. Provide progress feedback on tasks where it is difficult for learners to gauge progress on their own.
* Use strategies for coping with difficulties. When progress is minimal students might seek help, attempt to determine a more effective strategy, or re-evaluate the goal and timelines.
* Self-evaluate capabilities. The perception of progress will strengthen self-efficacy, which is critical for continued motivation and self-regulation.
I can see some evidence of all of these strategies in the entries people write about their goals in 43 Things. It makes me think a bit about different types of benefits in making goals explicit on the site:
  • help in deciding which learning goals are worth pursuing (including seeing goals in other lists that you hadn't considered)
  • support from other people pursuing the same goal -- general (not directed at you) and personal (comments on your posts and cheers)
  • support from people who have completed the goal (general and personal, both negative and positive)
  • inviting others to join you in pursuing the goal as a specific team
  • connections to learning resources for actual learning the skill/information
When I started looking at the site, I was thinking that the real action was in the last one, because that's the explicit learning task, but I'm starting to see that they're all valuable.

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