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Inside the Classroom

How Can I Help Students Set Learning Goals?

Getting students to set their own goals and create a plan to achieve them promotes a positive learning environment where they feel motivated by their own efforts. And one way to help students set learning goals and achieve, and even exceed, them is by getting them to ask (and answer!) the right questions of themselves. We’ve identified a few questions here to help you get your students’ gears turning!

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What did I learn today?

Students may not have an idea of what their goals should be at the beginning of the school year, but they can discover their goals and plan as they learn. Take some time early in the term to help students identify areas where they may be struggling or excelling, and take ownership of their milestones and successes. Help students develop accountability for their learning by ensuring they take good notes that summarize lessons. The more students understand about their classwork, the better they can target their specific goals to gain the desired outcomes, such as passing (or excelling on) assessments. Also, while communication between students and teachers is a critical part of the learning process, peer-to-peer communication is just as important. Boost confidence and classroom engagement by encouraging students to work together and share notes to review.

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What did I accomplish today?

When thinking about what they’ve accomplished, students should consider how much time and effort must be invested in their work to get the results they want. Start scheduling weekly check-in sessions to offer feedback on students’ progress. These meetings can be especially helpful when students run into difficulties or have questions. When students feel overwhelmed, make sure to acknowledge their hard work, gains, and successes. Doing so can motivate them to continue working even as they struggle. Help students out by encouraging them to:

  • Complete their work on a set schedule. Have students work on their homework for a certain amount of time every day for one week, and then gradually increase that chunk of time.
  • Rethink their progress. For example, if your student is disappointed with the grade they’re carrying in the class, help them understand how much they can increase it, and how they can do that.

A little daily progress can go a long way! Plus, your students may start to see the value in prioritizing assignments and avoiding situations in which they’re scrambling to finish a lot of work at the end of the term.

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What did I find challenging today?

Help students face and overcome difficulties by having them list the challenges they encounter in class. If they can anticipate problems before they happen, they can get stronger in those areas by knowing how to ask for help. There are a variety of ways for students to overcome academic challenges and they can get started by following a couple of steps.

  • Create a schedule that works well for them! Help them schedule specific times to work on each of their subjects, and make sure they are spending enough time each week to stay on pace with assignments. Schedule breaks, too. Students should know how important it is to take some time for themselves every so often to avoid getting burned out.
  • Establish a distraction-free zone for completing schoolwork. Have them turn off the television, silence their cell phone, and maybe even put a sign up that says something like, “homework in progress.” If they find themselves getting easily distracted, suggest they take advantage of one of those scheduled break times.

It may be easy for students to think about goals, but it can be hard to create realistic ones and commit to them without knowing the right questions to ask. Not only will asking these questions help students set learning goals, but they can also help students prioritize responsibilities and avoid missing deadlines. Creating and sticking to a plan can become a normal part of students’ study routines and, over time, help increase their success and growth. With a little help, your students can realize their full potential throughout the school year and beyond.

About the Author


Sasha Wordlaw

Sasha joined Edgenuity in 2015 as a Success Coach where she helped teachers and students achieve success through mentorship and assistance with their education platforms. During her tenure, Sasha was thrilled to further expand her experience with the marketing team, helping to inform people about the latest in edtech and education. As the oldest child in her family and a mother to one, Sasha has been dedicated to enriching the minds of children for most of her life. Her love for education combined with studies in theatre and film led her to teach children’s theatre for 3 years before working in special education with Scottsdale Unified School District in Arizona. Sasha continues her devotion to the arts within the Phoenix theatre community, working on stage and behind-the-scenes. A proud Nashville, TN native, Sasha and her son now call Arizona home.