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:
- What will I be able to do when I’ve finished the lesson?
- What idea, topic, or subject is important for me to learn and understand so that I can do this?
- 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:
- Clarity (see also Martin 2006)
- Challenge (see also Martin 2006)
- Commitment (see also Klein, Wesson, Hollenbeck, and Alge 1999)
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.
Martin, A.J. (2006) Personal Bests (PBs): A proposed multidimensional model and empirical analysis. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 803-825.