“…There is nothing more important in determining the effectiveness of a team than each members’s understanding of and commitment to the achievement of results-oriented goals to which the group holds itself mutually accountable. (DuFour 2010)”

DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many (2010) make an excellent point in that they emphasize that SMART goals (strategic and specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented, time bound) apply for both goals of the students’ achievement as well as the staff’s instructional goals. It is a challenge to ensure that students are on board with educational goals, partly because they are of the age where everything is debatable, but also because teachers rarely take the time to assess the students’ motivational beliefs and goal orientations. “Goal orientations are students’ reasons for engaging in or avoiding achievement-directed behavior.” (Beghetto 2004)

Many teachers and PLC teams create sweeping SMART goals without taking into account that students not only learn differently, but achieve differently and create goals for themselves that range from mastery-approach goals to performance-avoid goals. In a student with mastery-approach goals “define competence in terms of self-improvement and self-set goals.” (Beghetto 2004) These are the students who set high goals for themselves and often are extremely hard on themselves to reach the goals. Teachers may use these students as a “role model” for other students as hard workers.

However, a student with performance-avoid goals have a mission to “protect their self-worth at all costs.” (Beghetto 2004) Often, students with performance-avoid goals may be used as a negative role model, as in “don’t act like this student.” The common misconception is that this student may be devoid of self-goals, whereas that’s the opposite case.

In creating SMART goals for one’s classroom or professional development, remembering that there are different types of motivational beliefs and goals are as important as creating the goals themselves. Just as instruction needs to be modified for different types of learners, goals may need to be modified for different types of motivational beliefs. Doing so can ensure that goals will indeed be strategic and specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time bound, or SMART.


Beghetto, Ronald A. (2004). Toward a more complete picture of student learning: assessing students’ motivational beliefs. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 9(15). Retrieved September 16, 2012 from http://PAREonline.net/getvn.asp?v=9&n=15DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., Many, T. (2010). Learning by doing: A handbook for professional learning communities at work (2nd ed., pp. 155-204,247-266). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.