Theoretical Thursday: The Importance of Developing Goal Setting Skills in Children

Theoretical Thursday: The Importance of Developing Goal Setting Skills in Children

Middle School

Hello Readers,

Taking into consideration my most recent The Study Academy Report, I wanted to discuss with you today the current research on goal setting in children. It is such a large topic area in Developmental Psychology that I could not fathom how to fit it all into one blog post, therefore I decided to condense my idea. Today, we will be discussing the difficulty children with learning disabilities have forming goals. So, let’s get started, shall we?

http://heidipowell.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Goal-Setting.jpg

http://heidipowell.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Goal-Setting.jpg

Research has shown that a possible reason why certain children experience difficulty setting goals and sticking to their plan is because there is a sort of “mis-wiring” of the brain which then make it hard for the child to plan ahead and self monitor. As a result, one can encounter barriers that often others do not, which means perseverance is quite an important asset to develop in their education. It is essential that in developing their educational goals a student is shown that their mistakes are not failures, but instead opportunities to learn from their experiences.

Numerous studies have also shown that, so far, the most effective way to encourage goal setting and adhering to such goals is to follow the SMART method: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time- bound. Studies have shown that goals that incorporate specific outlines lead to higher performance than general goals, such as, “do your best”.

However, an important component in ensuring a child can adhere to such goals is that they have the ability to also self monitor themselves. What does this mean? Well, this refers to the ability to essentially watching themselves take one step at a time towards their goal. In fact, self monitoring has a long standing record of effectiveness for increasing on task behaviour for child with learning difficulties.

http://www.tomharveytraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/setting-smart-goals.jpg

http://www.tomharveytraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/setting-smart-goals.jpg

In one study by Briesch and Chafouleas (2009) they tested the hypothesis that participation in goal setting enhances self-efficacy and skills. Subjects were sixth-grade children who previously had been classified as learning disabled in mathematics. Children received subtraction training that included instruction and practice opportunities over several sessions. Some children set proximal performance goals each session, others had comparable proximal goals assigned, and children in a third condition received the training but no goals. Although proximal goals promoted motivation more than no goals, participation in goal setting led to the highest self-efficacy and subtraction skill. What I’m trying to say with this example is that having a child actively involved in the goal setting process is just as important to them accomplishing the goal. Both goal setting skills and the skill necessary for the task at hand are trained in the process, and for a child who has difficulty with goal planning, this is incredibly important skill to train. So, this sort of research looks quite promising, don’t you think so?

Well, at The Study Academy, we are trying just as hard to ensure that any child who experiences such a difficulty setting goals, will be able to hone in and develop their skill as well. So, dear Readers, I hope that you have gained a bit of perspective on some of the challenges a student can experience in school when they have problems with setting goals and also understand how critical the research The Study Academy’s lab is in providing children with the correct tools to overcome such challenges and succeed academically.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about the Educational Research conducted by Briesch and Chafouleas or more Educational Research in general I suggest you check out the following two links:

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/spq/24/2/106/

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/232565239_Review_and_analysis_of_literature_on_self-management_interventions_to_promote_appropriate_classroom_behaviors_(19882008)

 

The Study Academy Helps Children Put their Goals in Check

The Study Academy Helps Children Put their Goals in Check

The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers!

In today’s The Study Academy Report, we are going to look beyond the events of the classroom and into the educational research being conducted at The Study Academy. Previously, I wrote about the wonderful neurofeedback work that is currently being done in the lab that will benefit individual students with attentional difficulties. Well, this coming week the lab will be venturing forth on yet another scientific endeavor! They will be integrating their newly developed Goal Setting Suite in the Executive Function class for the Middle School students. It is their intent to use the Suite to help each child understand their personal goals and benefit from them in the longer term.

But you must be wondering, ‘When did this all start?” Actually, the idea for the Suite originated from Jason Krell, The Study Academy ’s Principal. He wondered how a child chose their goals out of the variety of dreams they had. For instance, one child may say they want to be a fire fighter one day and then a clown the next. Or to use a smaller goal, one child may want to spend an entire weekend playing the latest xbox game, but the next moment he could be wondering whether to read the next book in his favorite series. These may not seem like tough choices to you, but to a child they might certainly hold some weight. Thus, it was then the new mission of the lab members, Jason Krell, Anderson Todd and Patrick K. Dolecki, to discover which goals are really worthwhile aspirations for children.

Patrick K Dolecki, a current teacher of The Study Academy and The Study Hall, is the primary organizer for the Student Goal Setting Suite. He first began getting involved in the lab by setting up the neurofeedback machine on select students, and finds this new opportunity quite exciting. In an interview, he detailed the structure of the Goal Setting Suite and its benefits: “The suite itself is set up based on the 5 facets of virtue. It is composed of 21 questions that a student would answer about one of their goals, and the results would reveal, in a pass or fail answer, whether the goal was virtuous and worthwhile.” The lab members hope that  the kids will then strive towards more worthwhile goals, especially those with academic content.

However, Patricks confesses that the team recognizes the challenge in constructing The Student Goal Setting Suite. In particular as an educator and a researcher, there is concerned with the degree to which children will understand the types of questions being asked. Some of the emotional questions may beyond their point of emotional and cognitive development. Ultimately, if the children are unable to fully understand what is being asked of them the results may not be as true a reflection as could be possible.

For that reason, I was also told that for those who are interested, the Student Goal Setting Suite is being temporarily released, to test it out on willing participants. The next step after testing and perfecting the Suite, will be to construct a  subscription based model for other school boards so other students can also benefit. While there is still the need for a bit more paperwork, it will nevertheless be a great instrument for the school and for the lab. As The Study Academy  lab moves toward forming their succinct mission statement, they will continue to strive to provide to both the scientific and educational community alike.

Assessing, Evaluating and Executive Functioning

Assessing, Evaluating and Executive Functioning

Middle School

Hello Readers,

I’m sure many of you can recall the distaste you may have had when you were younger every time a time came around. Perhaps, some of you even became anxious. Nevertheless, despite people’s aversion to assessments and evaluation, they play such a pivotal role for school’s to understand students learning and also the development of a very important concept in the mind, one’s executive function. “Executive functioning” is a term used to describe the many different cognitive processes that individuals use to control their behavior and to get ready to respond to different situations. Ok, this sounds rather simple, but its a tad more complicated than that. If you are interested in learning more, may I suggest you check out this wonderful introduction on Executive Function in children: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1076/chin.8.2.69.8725#.UswZSc1mhxw

ExecutiveFunctionTasksAnyways, to get back to the point, it is incredibly important to develop one’s executive functioning as it affects almost every aspect of our lives. For instance, we make use of executive function when we make good use of past knowledge or current situation, so we know how best to proceed. For a student, they can use their assessment and evaluations to take the next step, and this can carry on into adulthood.

The Study Academy creates a school environment where through assessments and evaluation a child can improve their learning and develop their executive functioning. Firstly, an Executive Function course is taught as a non credit course to all Middle School students and is linked though the use of the technology available at the school. However, the learning and executive functioning skill development is also provided through Assessments for Learning, Assessments as Learning and Assessment of Learning and Evaluation component in all other classes. Do those three sound the same? Well then allow me to clarify!

Assessment for Learning- Teachers provide students with feedback for how they can improve. This can indeed development one’s learning and executive functioning with as simple the task as repeating a given strategy or trying a strategy for an assignment. When the child receives feedback, they can learn which strategy works and which one doesn’t.

Learning Assessment TriangleLearning Assessment TriangleLearning Assessment TriangleLearning Assessment TriangleLearning Assessment TriangleAssessment as Learning- Teachers help students develop capacity to be independent autonomous learners so they can become an individual with stronger executive functioning (set own goals, watch own progress, determine next steps and reflect) Student are taught how when and why specific strategies should be used and when they can modify to suit their own learning preferences.  Teachers also help students set realistic goals and use self-monitoring and self-management strategies to identify areas of weakness and self-correct behaviors and performance.

Assessment of Learning -this is an evaluation and is based on already established performance standards and assigning value to represent what students know and can apply.Teachers indeed count “strategy use” as part of a student’s grade (focus on the “how” of learning, not just the “what”). In addition, the application process required in certain learning tasks is indeed another aspect of executive functioning that a student can strengthen through these forms of assessments.

The Ontario Ministry of Education also provides further description of these three interconnected assessments and how they benefit the many students of Ontario, including those at The Study Academy:http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/success.html

Overall, The Study Academy provides a wonderful environment that fosters a child’s learning of subject matter, as well as their development of higher cognitive processes in executive functioning. This, is most definitely an asset for any student’s future.