Goals and Goal Setting
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice. “That depends a great deal on where you want to get to, ” said the Cheshire Cat.
—Carroll (1963, p. 59)
Have you used terms such as aim, aspiration, purpose, or intent? These are terms we often hear that imply goal setting. Goals have been defined simply as “something that the person wants to achieve” (Locke & Latham, 1990, p. 2). “Goal setting theory assumes that human action is directed by conscious goals and intentions” (Locke & Latham, 1990, p. 4). There is an important distinction between goal-setting theory and goal orientation (Chapter 3). Goal setting refers to a specific outcome that an individual is striving to achieve, whereas goal orientation refers to a type of goal orientation or underlying purpose behind the strived-for goal (Dweck, 1992). The focus of this chapter is on the importance of goal setting for achievement outcomes.
A coach would not think of starting a season without emphasizing both team and individual goals. Goals are a standard component of many, if not most, employee evaluation criteria. What about goal setting in classroom learning? Although teachers have goals in mind, how often are these made explicit? How often are students encouraged to set goals for themselves? From a motivational viewpoint, goals and goal setting play a central role in self-regulation (Schutz, 1991). Goal setting influences learning and motivation by providing a target and information about how well one is doing. This chapter describes the motivational effects of goals, types of goals, the properties