Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

Effects of Goal-Setting Skills on Students'academic Performance in English Language in Enugu Nigeria

Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

Effects of Goal-Setting Skills on Students'academic Performance in English Language in Enugu Nigeria

Article excerpt


1.1 Background to the study

English is used at all levels of education throughout the country as a subject of study and a medium of instruction. It is also the national language for politics, governance and commerce. Unfortunately, students' performance in the subject continues to be poor and this has been attributed to other factors. Such factors include parental variables, teachers' teaching styles and learner's environment (Ikegbunam, 1989). There is therefore the need to investigate this national problem from other perspectives. Researchers should look at students' personal perspectives; perhaps goal setting as a teaching-learning strategy would enhance their performance in the subject irrespective of gender. This is the focus of the study. Locke and Latham (1990) asserted that goals motivate individuals to exert extra effort, persist and focus attention on relevant task features. Specific goals also serve as a guide to develop strategies that will help students accomplish academic tasks in time. Basically, at the initial stage of a learning activity, students have such goals as acquiring skills and knowledge, finishing work and making good grades. During the activity, students usually observe, judge and react to their perceptions of goal progress so that when a commitment is made, there would be the basis for comparison between their performance and the targeted goals. Such self-evaluations of progress raise and sustain motivation; while a perceived discrepancy between performance and the goal may create dissatisfaction resulting in putting in more efforts. Hence goal-setting is necessary in order to identify what one should be doing, how he should be doing it, how long it should take and the things required for its accomplishment. It is important for students to set SMART goals where S stands for specific, M - measurable, A - attainable, R - reliable and T - timely. In addition, such skills and possession of special abilities as determination, interest, self-motivation, hard work, persistence and being focused, all of which are intrinsic to goal setting are likely to be developed, thus leading to improved academic performance. It helps to initiate students' self appraisals as learners monitor their own progress towards meeting clear endpoints of their efforts in English Language particularly in continuous writing.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Mass failure of students in English language has been a source of concern to parents, students, teachers and the society at large. The mass failure has been attributed to teachers' methodology, non availability of teaching materials and parental factors (Ikegbunam, 1989). All of these appeared to have been investigated yet the problems seem to have remained persistent going by the recurring mass failure in English language external examinations in the state.

If performance in English language continues to be poor as it is now, Nigeria may never attain her goal of developing modern technology using her own human resources and may have to continue to rely on manpower from other countries. Therefore, there is the need for students to perform well to achieve the required degree of accuracy and utilization of English Language for both personal and national development. Attempts at improving performance have focused on parents, teachers and other school factors. There is the need to look at the students themselves because we believe that they can determine their own success or failure by their disposition and efforts. It is assumed as stated earlier that if learning objectives are broken down into small short term goals, students' are likely to be motivated as each small goal is achieved, ultimately leading to better performance in English language.

1.3 Theoretical Framework and a Review of Related Studies

The present study is anchored on goal-setting theory (Locke & Latham, 1990) and language acquisition theory (Chomsky, 1975; Ellis (in press)). …

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