Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Importance of Goal-Setting for Students

Goal-setting can be a “powerful activity” to help learners become aware of what they want to achieve and motivate them to work toward their academic goals. They further identify what they want to learn in order to “better recognize and resist distractions” (Barkley & Major, 2020, p. 343). They additionally tell us that this gives students a structure which measures “progress, giving them support” on how to track their progress.  According to Indeed Editorial Team (2021), by creating “objectives and creating a clear roadmap for how you’ll reach your intended target, you can decide how to apply your time and resources to make progress”. This activity requires students to write down their goals and work toward them. According to Barkley and Major (2020) that it can be a “one-time activity (such as at the beginning of the course or before a major project) or used multiple times throughout the term; and how you and your students will monitor progress” (p. 343). Further, Elias (2014) explains that “a goal has to be realistic with a stretch, requiring effort and focus to achieve it”. In addition, this can be applied in face-to-face and online classes.

In face-to-face learning mode, students are required to write down their learning goals. According to Barkley and Major (2020), many students become fearful when they are asked to come up with learning goals. Therefore, to help overcome this, educators can work with them to develop their learning goals (p. 344). Teachers can also share a list of their own teaching goals with learners so they have something to start with. To monitor the progress, teachers ask learners to write reflection papers.

In the online learning mode, educators can use online forms to help students generate their individual goals. They further can add an activity so learners can monitor their progress. In addition, teachers can post their learning goals on this platform. Further, teachers can give “a follow-up assignment such as periodic journal reflections” during the course reflecting whether they are meeting their goals or not (Barkley & Major, 2020). They further go on to tell us that “a video discussion board, a blog, and cloud computing documents” are useful tools for this activity.


Barkley, E. F. & Major C. H. (2020). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Indeed Editorial Team (2021, November 2). SMART Goals: Definition and Examples. Indeed. Retrieved from

Elias, M. J. (2014, August 27). SMART Goal Setting With Your Students. Edutopia. Retrieved

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Arvind Boparai
Arvind Boparai is passionate about life-long learning. She recently graduated from the Executive MBA program at Royal Roads University, after more than 20 years of experience in accounting. She now works as the Financial Controller for a Lower Mainland company. She is married with two children. To continue her education, she is now enrolled in the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program at Vancouver Community College and looks forward to applying those learnings in her personal and professional life.


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