Goal Orientation

Learners work toward meaningful short- and long-term goals and can articulate why they are prioritizing these goals, how short-term goals (e.g., success on daily work) build toward long-term goals, and what success looks like at each stage.


Person with a tie on beside a round gauge that measures

Set short-terms goals that are specific and achievable

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Keeping a journal, notebook, or log in which they set goals and track progress towards their goals

  • Set a relevant goal that is short term in nature and uses specific outcomes to ensure it can be reached

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What are you working on today?

  • What’s your goal for this learning?

  • How do you set goals like this?

  • How will you know if you achieved this goal?

Rocketship traveling toward a target

Set long-term goals that are meaningful

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Set a long-term goal of achieving mastery in a learning area

  • Articulate how their long term goal has personal meaning or relevance

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What's a long term goal you have?

  • How did you set that goal?

  • Why is that goal important to you?

Two people with discussion bubbles beside them

Articulate what they are working on, why, and how it relates to their goals

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Show progress in goal tracking systems (i.e via Empower, goal sheets, wall charts)

  • Provide examples of learning tasks or work that demonstrate success in meeting prior goals

  • Describe how their current work or learning has relevance and meaning to their goals and their personal lives

Questions to Ask Learners

  • How do you track your goals?

  • What are some tasks you are working on now related to your goals?

  • What does this work or learning mean to you?

Notebook paper with a chess piece

Prioritize short-term goals and actions that are meaningful to achieving long-term goals

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Describe how their long-term goals break down into more manageable weekly goals or actions

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What's your long term goal, and what steps are you taking to achieve it?

  • How do you decide what order of goals or actions will get you to your long term goal?


For learners, goals can direct attention and action and can increase motivation and effort as long as the goal is meaningful and appropriately challenging. However, not accomplishing goals can lead to frustration and lower motivation.


As learning facilitators, it is important to recognize supporting learners with conceptualizing and actualizing goals at all levels. Orienting their learning in goal structures will increase self-efficacy, skill acquisition, and motivation.

Educator Actions

Learning facilitators ensure learners internalize short- and long-term goals that build toward a meaningful purpose for learning and serve as guides for daily work.

CSTPs: 4.2, 5.4, 5.5, 5.7, 6.2

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Use the Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) process to help learners think about their data and what kinds of short- and long-term meaningful goals they can set.

This is an opportunity for a goal orientation discussion!


  • Build learner understanding of criteria for success through scoring rubrics or exemplars (P)

  • Provide direct instruction on goal setting and criteria for high-quality goals (e.g., SMART goals) (P)

  • Facilitate daily or weekly goal-setting routines (P)

  • Set upper and lower limits for learner-developed goals in advance of goal setting (P)

  • Establish and articulate goals with learners (P/F)

  • Model goal setting (P/F)

  • Support and monitor learners’ use of quantitative and qualitative data to set goals (P/F)

  • Use quantitative and qualitative (e.g., assessment) data to create goals with learners (P/F)

P = planned F = facilitated spontaneously