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Teaching Goal-Writing to All Students

This article appeared in the Teaching Professor on November 1, 2013. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. On the first day of classes two years ago, I had students in my professional and technical course send me an email with goals for the semester. I discovered they had no understanding of goals, expectations, or objectives. The next semester I explained that goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, positive, and have a time limit. I gave some examples, but they still could not complete the task. After several more tries, I realized there are several reasons why students typically can't do this without additional coaching: 1) they do not know the language, the cause-effect, the psychology of responsibility, or the careful determination involved in setting goals and making a plan; 2) they do not see the relationship between their success and the stating of goals; 3) they have not had repeated exposure to this task; and 4) they do not understand that goals are important in learning and in the workplace. Teaching my students about goals has become something of a crusade. It's important for them and it matters to me. If students have no understanding of their goals, how can they assess me on the clarity of course objectives? Language “I hope to be successful,” “I wish to have more confidence in my writing,” “I want to be more comfortable with all the documents in my field,” “I feel like I could work on…,” and “I […]

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