Know Your Learning Target

The March 2011 Educational Leadership has an article by Moss, Brookhart, and Long titled “Know Your Learning Target” that argues that students who know their learning goal are “empowered, self-regulating, motivated, and intentional learners.”  With a high quality learning target a student should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What will I be able to do when I’ve finished the lesson?
  2. What idea, topic, or subject is important for me to learn and understand so that I can do this?
  3. How will I show that I can do this, and how well will I have to do it?

The reality is that “knowing your learning target” can do more than “create empowered, self-regulating, motivated, and intentional learners” when merged with specific goal-setting behaviors that are known to have an impact on student achievement.  Hattie (2009) found that a number of meta-analysis showed a strong positive impact from goal setting (d=0.56). Hattie (2009) cited Locke and Latham’s (1990) seminal book “A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance” is arguing that a goal must include:

  1. Clarity (see also Martin 2006)
  2. Challenge (see also Martin 2006)
  3. Commitment (see also Klein, Wesson, Hollenbeck, and Alge 1999)
  4. Feedback

In other words, if the learning targets that students are seeking to achieve are clear, challenging, and include a commitment and cycles of feedback the student is likely to learn even more. 

Klein, Wesson, Hollenbeck, and Alge (1999) Goal commitment and goal-setting process: Conceptual clarification and empirical synthesis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(6), 885-896.

Martin, A.J. (2006) Personal Bests (PBs): A proposed multidimensional model and empirical analysis.  British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 803-825.