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?
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.
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: