The Impact of Goal Setting for Students

When students write out their goals, they will be more motivated to accomplish them.
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The acts of setting, planning and accomplishing goals can have a positive impact on students of all ages. This practice, whether done individually or in groups, can give students direction, motivate them, raise their grades and build their self-esteem. Parents and teachers can strengthen this process by being encouraging and supportive of students' objectives.

1 Provides a Plan for Success

What differentiates a goal from a wish is the plan one creates to accomplish what one desires. Since creating the blueprint for their realization is inherent to setting objectives, when students set goals they also formulate a clear track to follow. These clearly delineated steps provide a direction so students know how to get where they are going. When creating a plan to realize goals, students should prioritize their objectives and break larger goals into smaller, more achievable steps. For example, if a student sets a goal to read a novel by the end of the month, she can break up the objective into a daily task of reading ten pages a night. By having a plan, students are guided toward their accomplishments.

2 Provides Motivation

Setting goals provides students something specific to strive for, which can result in higher motivation. For example, if a high school student sets a goal to be accepted to a particular university, she will be motivated throughout high school to study hard and participate in extracurricular activities. Also, group or class-wide goals can motivate students because their performance and effort is held accountable by their teammates, who hold a stake in the goal's success. An example of a collective goal can be to complete a group presentation within a determined time period. Setting clear expectations for themselves can drive students to reach their targets.

3 Raises Grades

One impact of goal setting is to improve students' academic performance. By working toward their goals -- whether personal or academic -- students cultivate a healthy discipline and work ethic that can translate into classroom performance. For example, if a student sets a goal to be accepted on the swim team, the habit and routine of practice necessitates creating a daily regimen. This, in turn, can cause the student to more effectively manage his study time, thereby raising his grades.

4 Builds Confidence

Setting goals emphasizes a student's ability to accomplish and succeed. Every step that a student completes reinforces her sense of skill and self-confidence. The act of setting a goal requires a student to believe in herself enough to presume she can follow through and complete a task. She can also take pride in the accomplishment of her goals; this pride can be reinforced by teachers, parents and friends through monitoring of a student's success along the way. The confidence students gain can impact them in the long term, making them more confident in interviews, relationships and careers.

Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.