Posted by: Alison Dewis | April 11, 2011

GET A GRIP ON goals (the basics).

Goals help YOU:

  1. to commit to a particular outcome
  2. to help you turn your goal into a plan of action
  3. to help you create a standard to achieve your goal

FOR EXAMPLE, Sam is a grade 10 student who is starting to think about what his life will be like after high school.  At this point, his courses have been a compilation of required classes for graduation. Now he is aware that the courses he will select for the next two years will dictate a path toward a future career – a daunting task!  He talks to his parents, friends, teachers and guidance counsellor.  With a goal, to become an accountant, Sam is able to feel more confident about the choices he makes.  He is aware of what courses he needs to take, what his overall average needs to be, which universities he would like to apply to, and what  career opportunities are available to him upon graduation from university.

GOALS, a definition: goals provide criteria or standards upon which self-regulated learners can monitor or self-check their performance and progress during and after learning1.

As learners, we strive to set goals, plan for, execute and refine and adapt from the situations we find ourselves in.  This process is called self-regulated learning and for some it is easier, or comes more naturally, than others.  Self-regulated learning involves deliberately adopting strategic approaches to make progress in our learning.

It is like we are constantly in a cycle of experimentation1. Although this applies most easily and readily to academic learning it can be applied in all areas of lives.

A component of self-regulated learning that particularly affects our daily lives is our ability to self-set and achieve our goals – whether they be for the immediate task or are aimed at a larger, more long term goal.

Return to SRL and GOALS, Get a Grip.


1Hadwin, A. F. (2008). Self-regulated learning. In T. L. Good (Ed.), 21st century education: A reference handbook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.



  1. […] GET A GRIP ON goals (the basics). […]

  2. Any suggestions on how to decide if the goal is appropriate ? Does it have to have a short term outcome or is it something that will have an affect on your life as a whole.
    For example, I was raised Catholic and practiced this religion my entire childhood until I finished High school. After entering into post-secondary education i became disconnected with my faith, i believe this was because i was no longer surrounded by it, nor did i have a someone to guide me or share in this experience with me.
    After completing my Degree in Teaching i have decided that I believe i should teach in a Catholic school board, not only so that i can guide my students in their faith but also so that i can encourage my students and instill strong values in them.
    To become this teacher….how do i reeducate myself on all the things i seem to have forgotten about specific details regarding my faith.
    How do I plan to “become catholic again”

    • It sounds like you have a large, over-arching goal that is fairly vague. To make small goals that are helpful for regulating learning, you need really understand what “being Catholic” means to you. Then, choose one element of that to focus on and create one helpful goal at a time. Helpful goals are very specific – they detail what you are learning, how you are doing it, when you are doing it, and how you will know if you’ve done a good job. Whether that is to reach out to one person in the Catholic community today via e-mail at 4pm, or read a particular Bible passage from 10-10:30am and come up with one take away for you from that. The goals need to be meaningful to you and they need to be small steps to get you where you want to go. The key is really to understand where it is you want to go – what do you need to re-educate yourself on?

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