Learning can be affectively inaccessible when success requires students to set personally motivating goals and expectations, and where there are no options provided for students who differ in their ability to do so. Goal setting is an essential aspect of self-regulation; setting goals to avoid frustration, to modulate anxiety, and to set positive expectations are important skills to learn.Yet, these goals will vary greatly according to individual student needs - some students need to dampen anxiety to succeed while others may need to elevate it somewhat. The evidence listed here suggests the effectiveness of explicitly teaching and scaffolding goal-setting strategies and of empowering students to set their own goals. The scholarly reviews and expert opinions provide a more classroom-based perspective of the importance of guiding personal goal-setting and expectations.
Experimental & Quantitative Evidence
Agran, M., Cavin, M., Wehmeyer, M., & Palmer, S. (2006). Participation of students with moderate to severe disabilities in the general curriculum: The effects of the self-determined learning model of instruction. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31(3), 230-241.
Aunola, K., Nurmi, J. E., Niemi, P., Lerkkanen, M. K., & Rasku-Puttonen, H. (2002). Developmental dynamics of achievement strategies, reading performance, and parental beliefs. Reading Research Quarterly, 37(3), 310-327.
Bandura, A., & Cervone, D. (1983). Self-evaluative and self-efficacy mechanisms governing the motivational effects of goal systems. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45(5), 1017-1028.
Brewer, M. B., & Hewstone, M. (2004). Emotion and motivation. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Butler, D. L. (1997). The roles of goal setting and self-monitoring in students' self-regulated engagement in tasks.Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, March 24-28, 1997).
Catlin, K. S., Lewan, G. J., & Perignon, B. J. (1999). Increasing student engagement through goal-setting, cooperative learning & student choice. (Master's Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and IRI/SkyLight).
Cleary, T. J., & Zimmerman, B. J. (2004). Self-regulation empowerment program: A school-based program to enhance self-regulated and self-motivated cycles of student learning. Psychology in the Schools, 41(5), 537-550.
Earley, P. C. (1985). Influence of information choice and task complexity upon goal acceptance, performance and personal goals. Journal of Applied Psychology, 70(3), 481-491.
Elliott, E. S., & Dweck, C. S. (1988). Goals: An approach to motivation and achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(1), 5-12.
Hannafin, M. J. (1981). Effects of teacher and student goal setting and evaluations on mathematics achievement and student attitudes. Journal of Educational Research, 74(5), 321-326.
Hannula, M. S. (2006). Motivation in mathematics: Goals reflected in emotions. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 63(2), 165-178.
Harackiewicz, J. M., Barron, K. E., Carter, S. M., Lehto, A. T., & Elliot, A. J. (1997). Predictors and consequences of achievement goals in the college classroom: Maintaining interest and making the grade. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(6), 1284-1295.
Hole, J. L., & Crozier, W. R. (2007). Dispositional and situational learning goals and children's self-regulation.British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(4), 773-786.
Hom, H. L., & Arbuckle, B. (1988). Mood induction effects upon goal setting and performance in young children.Motivation and Emotion, 12(2), 113-122.
Karabenick, S. A. (2004). Perceived achievement goal structure and college student help seeking. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(3), 569-581.
Law, Y. K. (2009). The role of attribution beliefs, motivation and strategy use in Chinese fifth-graders' reading comprehension. Educational Research, 51(1), 77-95.
Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, D. B. (1993). The efficacy of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatment.Confirmation from meta-analysis. The American Psychologist, 48(12), 1181-1209.
Locke, E. A. (1996). Motivation through conscious goal setting. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 5(2), 117-124.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation.American Psychologist, 57(9), 705-717.
Lodewyk, K. R., Winne, P. H., & Jamieson-Noel, D. L. (2009). Implications of task structure on self-regulated learning and achievement. Educational Psychology, 29(1), 1-25.
Meece, J. L., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Hoyle, R. H. (1988). Students’ goal orientations and cognitive engagement in classroom activities. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(4), 514-523.
Newman, R. S., & Schwager, M. T. (1995). Students' help seeking during problem solving: Effects of grade, goal, and prior achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 32(2), 352-376.
Pajares, F., Britner, S. L., & Valiante, G. (2000). Relation between achievement goals and self-beliefs of middle school students in writing and science. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(4), 406-422.
Palmer, S. B., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (2003). Promoting self-determination in early elementary school: Teaching self-regulated problem-solving and goal-setting skills. Remedial and Special Education, 24(2), 115-126.
Paulsen, M. B., & Feldman, K. A. (2005). The conditional and interaction effects of epistemological beliefs on the self-regulated learning of college students: Motivational strategies. Research in Higher Education, 46(7), 731-768.
Phillips, J. M., & Gully, S. M. (1997). Role of goal orientation, ability, need for achievement, and locus of control in the self-efficacy and goal-setting process. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82(5), 792-802.
Ridley, D. S. (1992). Self-regulated learning: The interactive influence of metacognitive awareness and goal-setting. Journal of Experimental Education, 60(4), 293-306.
Roeser, R. W., Midgley, C., & Urdan, T. C. (1996). Perceptions of the school psychological environment and early adolescents’ psychological and behavioral functioning in school: The mediating role of goals and belonging.Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(3), 408-422.
Schneider, W. (1998). Performance prediction in young children: Effects of skill, metacognition and wishful thinking. Developmental Science, 1(2), 291-297.
Schunk, D. H. (1985). Participation in goal setting: Effects on self-efficacy and skills of learning-disabled children.Journal of Special Education, 19(3), 307-317.
Schunk, D. H. (1996). Goal and self-evaluative influences during children's cognitive skill learning. American Educational Research Journal, 33(2), 359-382.
Stipek, D. (1984). Young children's performance expectations: Logical analysis or wishful thinking? In J. Nicholls (Ed.), The development of achievement motivation, (pp. 33-56). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Stipek, D., & Gralinski, J. H. (1996). Children's beliefs about intelligence and school performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(3), 397-407.
Stipek, D. J., & Gralinski, J. H. (1991). Gender differences in children's achievement-related beliefs and emotional responses to success and failure in mathematics. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(3), 361-371.
Stipek, D. J., Roberts, T. A., & Sanborn, M. E. (1984). Preschool-age children's performance expectations for themselves and another child as a function of the incentive value of success and the salience of past performance.Child Development 55(6), 1983-1989.
Wehmeyer, M. L., Yeager, D., Bolding, N., Agran, M., & Hughes, C. (2003). The effects of self-regulation strategies on goal attainment for students with developmental disabilities in general education classrooms. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 15(1), 79-91.
Wolters, C. A., Yu, S. L., & Pintrich, P. R. (1996). The relation between goal orientation and students' motivational beliefs and self-regulated learning. Learning and Individual Differences, 8(3), 211-238.
Zimmerman, B. J., Bandura, A., & Martinez-Pons, M. (1992). Self-motivation for academic attainment: The role of self-efficacy beliefs and personal goal setting. American Educational Research Journal, 29(3), 663-676.
Zimmerman, B. J., & Kitsantas, A. (1996). Self-regulated learning of a motoric skill: The role of goal setting and self-monitoring. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 8(1), 60-75.
Scholarly Reviews & Expert Opinions
Ames, C. (1992). Achievement goals and the classroom motivational climate. In D. H. Schunk, & J. L. Meece (Eds.), Student perceptions in the classroom. (pp. 327-348). Hillsdale, NJ, England: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Anderson, A. (1997). Learning strategies in physical education: Self-talk, imagery, and goal-setting. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 68(1), 30-35.
Carroll, J., & Christenson, C. N. K. (1995). Teaching and learning about student goal setting in a fifth-grade classroom. Language Arts, 72(1), 42-49.
Covington, M. V. (2000). Goal theory, motivation, and school achievement: An integrative review. Annual Reviews in Psychology, 51(1), 171-200.
Hidi, S., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2000). Motivating the academically unmotivated: A critical issue for the 21st century. Review of Educational Research, 70(2), 151-179.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting & task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1984). Goal setting: A motivational technique that works! Englewood Cliffs, NJ:Prentice Hall.
Madden, L. E. (1997). Motivating students to learn better through own goal-setting. Education, 117(3), 411-416.
Maehr, M. L., & Midgley, C. (1991). Enhancing student motivation: A schoolwide approach. Educational Psychologist, 26(3&4), 399-427.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P.M. (2001). Goal setting and goal striving. In A. Tesser & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Intraindividual processes. Volume 1 of the Blackwell Handbook in Social Psychology. Editors-in-chief: M. Hewstone & M. Brewer (pp. 329-347). Oxford: Blackwell.
Rosenholtz, S. J., & Simpson, C. (1984). The formation of ability conceptions: Developmental trend or social construction? Review of Educational Research, 54(1), 31-63.
Ryan, R. M., Connell, J. P., & Grolnick, W. S. (1992). When achievement is not intrinsically motivated: A theory of internalization and self-regulation in school. In K. Boggiano, & T. Pittman (Eds.), Achievement and motivation: A social development perspective (pp. 167-188). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Schunk, D. H. (1990). Goal setting and self-efficacy during self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 25(1), 71-86.
Schunk, D. H. (2003). Self-efficacy for reading and writing: Influence of modeling, goal setting, and self-evaluation.Reading & Writing Quarterly, 19(2), 159-172.
Zimmerman, B. J. (1990). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: An overview. Educational Psychologist, 25(1), 3-17.