Personal Goals for your Students (and self) Should Be Kept Private

New research says that goals are better followed and achieved if you keep them private. I know. It didn’t make sense to me at first. But now I see the light.

Recent research by Gollwitzer et al. (2010) suggests that, in fact, making our goals public can have precisely the opposite effect from what we intend.

Across three experiments the link between making goals public and actually working towards them was tested. What they found in every study was that when participants had shared their goal with someone else, instead of increasing their commitment, it reduced it.

When they had shared their goals with another, participants put less effort into studying, trying to get a job and taking advantage of opportunities for advancement.

Via the PsyBlog

So what does this mean for us as educators? Well it’s quite simple:

1. We should continue the practice of setting goals for ourselves and our students. But more importantly we should allow students to set their own goals (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly).

2. Students should keep those goals private.

3. We should keep our personal goals private as well.

4. Class goals are different, and should continue to be displayed publicly.

It is important to distinguish between personal goals and group goals. The study looks at how an individual deals with goals, rather than a group. Keep making goals, but think about how you implement and share those goals within the context of a classroom!

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