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DOCOHEHT RESOHE 



ED 053 816 



PS 004 929 



AUTHOR 

TITLE 

PUB DATE 
NOTE 



Gaa^ John P, 

The Use of Individual Goal-Setting Conferences as a 
Motivational Technique. 

[70] 

13p. 



EDRS PRICE EDRS Price MF-$0.65 HC-$3.29 

DESCRIPTORS ♦Achievement, Attitudes, Classroom Research, 

♦Conferences, Elementary School Students, ♦Goal 
Orientation, ♦Motivation 



ABSTRACT 



This study examined the effect of goal-setting on 
the achievement and attitudes of 108 boys and girls from grades 1-4. 
Pupils in Group I participated in four goal-setting conferences with 
the experimenter. Pupils in Group II also had conferences but class 
study topics were discussed and students did not set goals. Group III 
was a control group receiving only classroom instruction in reading 
skills. Two attitude measures were administered to all pupils along 
with an experimenter-developed and a cr iterion- referenced achievement 
test. The experimental design was a 3x3x2 randomized block design 
with three treatments, three levels of previous achievement, and two 
sexes. Findings indicate that the use of an individual goal-setting 
conference can improve the classroom motivation of pupils. The 
confounding of other factors makes present findings tentative. 
Suggestions for future research include beginning with a more precise 
delineation of the attributes of goal-setting. (HI) 



PS 004929 



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. 

* EDUCATION & WELFARE 

OFFICE OF EDUCATION 
THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN REPRO- 
OUCEO EXACTLY AS REUEIVEO FROM 
THE PERSON OR ORGANIZATION ORIG- 
INATING IT. POINT? OF VIEW OR OPIN- 
IONS STATEO DC NOT NECESSARILY 
REPRESENT OFFICIAL OFFICE OF EOU- 
CATION POSITION OH POLICY. 

The Use of Individual Goal-Setting Conferences 

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as a Motivational Technique 
John P. Gaa 

University of North Carolina 



Although experimental evidence relating to goal-setting, and to a lesser 
extent motivation in general, has traditionally been obtained in laboratory 
settings employing tsks not typically found in the classroom, increasing em- 
phasis is being placed on exploring and defining procedures for academic mo- 
tivation. Recent studies at the Wisconsin Research and Development Center for 
Cognitive Learning (Kennedy, 19&0; Klausmeier, Quilling, and Wardrop, 1968; 
Lamal, 1969; Schevenn, Sorenson and Bavry, 1970) have identified motivational 
techniques which may be used in classroom settings, and have contributed to the 
development and validation of a system of individually guided motivation (Klaus- 
raeier, Schwenn and Lamal 1970). The present studies were conducted in conjunc- 
tion with the cej.iter and were designed to investigate the effect of goal-setting 
on attitudes and achievement and to further elineate the attributes of goal- 
setting. The procedures investigated in this study might weM be integrated 
into the motivation system as a means for allowing studen.ts to set and attain 
goals and as a situation in which feedback may easily be provided. 

There can be no doubt that the setting of performance goals is a potent 
variable. For example, Armstrong (1947), Lockette (1956), Kausler (1969), and 
Fryer (1964) have conducted research relating goal-setting performance. Each 
investigator employed a different experimental task and age group, yet the same 
general conclusion was reached in each case; subjects tidio predict future per- 
formance scores and set goals attain a higher level of performance than that 



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attained by those who do not set performance goals. 

Traditionally, knowledge of results and goal setting have been viewed as 
related but essentially separiite processes. Several recent studies have in- 
dicated, however, that the primary use of knowledge of results may be in its 
use in shaping a student's intentions in terms of performance. Locke, in a 
pair of studies (Locke & Bryan, 1966b; Locke, 1967) obtained results indicating 
that automatic improvement in performance is not obtained by giving a subject 
knowledge of his total score, but rather, is dependent upon how the knowledge 
of results is employed in setting future goals. The emphasis is placed on the 
role that knowledge of results plays in goal setting rather than on any intrinsic 
value of supplying knowledge of results. On this basis, knowledge of results is 
not treated as a separate independent variable in this study, but rather is 
treated as a component part of the goal-setting process itself. 

In developing the goal-setting procedure used in the study, three other 

I. 

important questions were considered: student- versus teacher-set goals, goal 

specificity, and goal difficulty. Studies (Bayton, 1940; Locke, 1966a) have 
indicated that student-set goals are superior to teacher-set goals. However, in 
an ongoing classroom situation the student may not be able to set appropriate 
goals because he is not acquainted with the subject matter to be studied. 

Because of this, appropriate goals were listed for the students and they then 
chose their own goals from the listing. 

Classroom goal:^ have usually been framed in terms of a "do your best" type 
of statement by the teacher i^ithout specifying performance objectives. However, 
several studies (Bayton, 1948; Locke 6e Bryan, 1966a, 1967b) have indicated that 
specific performance goals provide for better learning than do "do your best" 
goals. Therefore, the goal-setting procedure used in the study insured that the 
goals set related to specific performance objectives. 




2 



Experimental evidence indicates that the difficulty level of goals can 
play an important role in goal setting. Locke (1966a) has shown that gods must 
be relatively difficult in order for the goal-setting process to be effective. 
This would seem to indicate that although goals should be student-set, there 
should be some feedback concerning appropriate difficulty level. 

Method 

Treatment and Groups 

In developing the goal-setting procedure to be used in the study the fac- 
tors discussed above were taken into account. Goal-setting subjects met once 
a week with the experimenter. During this session, feedback was provided on 
the appropriateness of the previous week's goals in terms of their achievement 
of goals for the week as rated by the classroom teacher. Following a brief 
discussion of the material to be studied during the coming week the students 
were asked to set performance goals. A range of possible goals was presented 
to each student in the form of a goal-setting check list. This check list was 
developed in conjunction with the classroom teachers and was based on their 
estimation of the types of behaviors which vrould be indicative of a growing 
mastery of a specific reading skill being taught. By presenting the goals in 
this manner they were student- set in the sense that they were "student chosen," 
while at the same time were both specific and appropriate to the reading skill. 
Students in the goal-setting treatment group received four such conferences 
during the study. 

Schwenn, Sorenson, and Bavry (1970) demonstrated a positive effect of 
individual reading conferences on the amount of independent reading of elemen- 
tary school children. In the present study, this type of social interaction is 
present as an implicit part of the goal-setting conferences. This would present 



4 



\ 



a problem in interpreting positive results since it would be unclear whether 
the treatment effect was due to the goal-setting procedures or simply the re- 
sult of the individual conference per se .. To allow for a clearer interpretation 
of the data and to judge the effect of the conference alone in this type of pro- 
cedure, a second treatment group was established. The conference group received 
individual conferences with the experimenter on the same schedule as the goal- 
setting treatment group. The conferences differed, however, in that students 
did not set specific performance goals. During the conference the topics which 
would be studies in class were briefly discussed and general class goals were 
pointed out by the experimenter. 

The third group in the study X7as a control group. This group received the 
same classroom instruction as the other two groups, but received no conferences 
of any kind. 

Subjects 

Subjects were students in Units B and D of an elementary school x^hich is 
organized following the Ifeilti-Unit concept. Students in Unit D would normally 
be in the third and fourth grades, while students in Unit B would normally be 
in the first and second grades. Fifty-four students participated within each 
unit with the sexes equally represented. 

Within each unit students who had not previously meastered the reading skill 
to be studied were divided by sex- and then blocked on the basis of previous 
reading skill achievement into three reading achievement groups. In the Multi- 
Unit framework, students are not restricted to a single classroom, but are 
grouped by ability and competence for the various classes so that students may 
have different teachers and classmates throughout the day. With this type of 
organization in use, students could be assigned to the three treatment groups 
on the basis of a stratified random assignment procedure across classrooms. 



O 

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PS 004929 



5 



Students were then assigned to reading-skill teachers using a stratified random 
assignment procedure such that each teacher had one student from each of the 
cells in the experimental design^ Teachers were not told which treatment groups 
students were assigned to. 

Evaluation Procedures 

Evaluation procedures were divided into two parts which reflected the 
questions asked in the study. The first general question to be answered con- 
cerned the effect of the goal-setting procedure on the attitudes and achieve- 
ment levels of the students. T\4o attitude measures were administered to all 
subjects: the first was a measure of general reading attitude and the second 

was a measure of attitude toward the specific reading skill being studied. In 
each of the Unit levels both experimenter-developed and criterion-referenced 
achievement tests were given. The criterion-referenced tests were developed 
by reading and measurement experts of the Wisconsin Research and Development 
Center for Cognitive Learning and dealt with the specific skills studied during 
the experimental period. 

The second of the tV7o general questions the study seeks to answer is more 
theoretical in that it attempts to describe more accurately the goal-setting 
process. The question relates to the effects of practice in goal-setting on 
the number and accuracy of goals set and on the degree of confidence that sub- 
jects show in attaining them. Following the administration of the attitude and 
achievement measures, all students in the three treatment groups participated in 
an individual goal-setting conference. The results of this conference, along 
with teacher ratings, were used to compare the effect of the treatments on the 
goal-setting behavior of the groups. 

Experimental Design 

The experimental design was a 3x3x2 randomized block design with three 



O 

ERIC 



5 



6 



\ 



treatments, three levels of previous achievement, and two sexes. The design 
was replicated at the two unit levels (B and D) . 

Separate multivariate analyses of variance were conducted incorporating 
appropriate subsets of the following dependent measures: (a) scores on the 

reading attitude inventory, (b) scores on the skill attitude inventory, (c) scores 
on the experimenter-developed achievement tests, (d) scores on the appropriate 
subtests of the criterion-referenced achievement test, (e) the number of goals 
set, (f) the accuracy of the goals set (the absolute value of the difference 
between the number of goals set and the number of goals achieved) and (g) the 
score for confidence in achieving the goals set. 

Results and Discussion 

For convenience in consideration of the results of the two parolled studies 
conducted; the treatment effect found in both units will be considered at the 
same time in relation to each variable. 

Attitude Measures 

In neither Unit D nor Unit B was there a difference in attitude as a func- 
tion of treatment. No significant differences were found between the goal- 
setting and non-goal-setting groups or between the conference and control 
groups. Because of the relatively short term nature of the study however, the 
failure to find differences in attitude toward reading in general is not sur- 
prising; the likelihood of changing long standing attitudes in a short period 
of time is small. There xvas also no difference between treatment groups in their 
attitudes toward the reading skills class. On an intuitive level, one would 
expect the goal-setting group to haae a more positive attitude toward the class 
due to generally higher achievement and more individual attention. As Bayfield 
and Crockett (1955) and Locke (1965) have poirlted out, however, attitude and 



O 

ERIC 



6 



4 



7 

performance are not necessarily correlated. Perhaps the only possible explana- 
tion which can be proposed to explain the lack of differences in attitude toward 
the reading skills class is to point out that the average attitude score for 
all students was extremely high, thereby effectively producing a ceiling effect 
and eliminating any chance of discriminating among groups. 

Achievement Measures 

Within Unit D no significant differences V7ere found in achievement on 
either the experimenter - developed achievement test or the criterior referenced 
test. After examining these results in Unit D, it was decided to place more 
emphasis during the goal setting conference on providing feedback relating to the 
students ability to handle the specific reading skills. With the change in 
emphasis, goal-setting students in Unit B showed significantly higher achieve- 
ment on the criterion-referenced achievement tests and, although the differences 
were not statistically significant, attained a higher level of achievement on 
the experimenter-developed tests as X'/ell. In neither Unit were there any 
differences between the conference and control groups. This finding is of 
extreme importance because it indicates that the higher achievement of the goal- 
setting group can be attributed to the goal-setting procedures per se rather 
than to a general "conference effect." 



Insert Table 1 about here 



Goal-Setting Behavior 

There can be little question of the effect of the goal-setting procedures 
on the ability of students to set more realistic goals. In both Unit D and 
Unit B behavior of the goal-se'-tting group differed at the .01 level of signif- 
icance from that displayed by the conference and control groups. No differences 



were found in the conference versus control comparisons. Again, the differen- 
tial effect found in the goal-setting versus non-goal-setting comparisons must 
be attributed to the goal-setting procedures employed rather than to a general 
"conference effect." 

In both Units, the goal-setting group set fewer goals than the other groups. 
This is interpreted as representing a more realistic statement of goals. This 
type of interpretation is supported by the fact that the goal-setting groups 
showed smaller differences between the number of goals set and the number of 
goals attained. In other words, the goals were more accurate and more realistic. 
This seems to support the findings of Porat and Haas (1969) that more information 
(feedback in this case) results in more accurate levels of goal setting and 
decision making. 

The consistency of goal-setting behavior between Units is also apparent in 
the confidence levels displayed by the treatment groups. In both Units, the 
goal-setting group had lower confidence scores than did the non-goal-setting 
groups. The "lower scores" are again interpreted as reflecting more realistic 
appraisals by the students of their chances for success. It would seem that 
a greater percentage of goal-setting students realize that they would probably 
require help in learning and mastering the reading skills and that they might 
not be able to achieve all of the goals which they had set. 



Insert Table 2 about here 



Insert Table 3 about here 



9 



The present study demonstrated that the use of an individual goal-setting 
conference can improve the classroom achievement of students and investigated 
the effects of the procedure on goal-setting behavior. 

Clearly, the significant differences found betv^een treatment groups in 
relation to their goal-setting behavior are attributable to the effect of the 
goal-setting conferences, since conferences by themselves (without goal-setting) 
showed no effect on goal-setting relative to the control. In neither Unit 
were there differences as a function of sex, previous achievement level, or sex 
by previous achievement level; the only differences were as a function of treat- 
ment. Goal-setting ^s on the average set fewer goals, had a smaller absolute 
difference between number of goals set and number of goals achieved, and had a 
lower confidence score in their ability to achieve the goals they had set. 

This last finding can be partially explained by the fact that non-goal-setting 
^s tended to show extremely high confidence in their ability to attain their 
goals . 

The findings regarding the effect of individual goal-setting conferences 
on achievement are less clear cut. In the first Unit studies (Unit D) nc sig- 
nificant differences were found, while in the second Unit (Unit B) , significant 
differences did appear. The fact that students received more feedback in rela- 
tion to skill attainment in Unit B conferences may explain this difference.^ 

If this is the case, implementation of the procedure with classroom teachers 
giving the conferences should produce larger differences in that more accurate 
feedback could then be provided. Another factor which might help increase the 
goal-setting conference effect would be daily teacher reminders in class to 



Hov;ever, other factors such as age. Unit level, skill studied, etc. might 
also be considered in accounting for the differences in Unit B. Since all of 
these factors were unavoidably confounded in the present study, this change can- 
not be attributed to a single variable. 



ERIC 



9 



10 



concentrate on the goals set for the week. This was not done in this study 
because ^s from all treatment conditions were present in each classroom in an 
attempt to minimize teacher bias. It would seem that in normal classroom use 
that these considerations wuld probably combine to increase the effects found 
in the present study. This is an empirical question however, which should 
be studied before final recommendations are given regarding the goal-setting 
procedures^ 

In this study the effects of the goal-setting process on achievement, at- 
titudes, and goal-setting behavior were examined, but no attempt was made to 
fully evaluate the procedure. Besides the possible teacher influences mentioned 
above, factors such as cost, feasibility, inservice training needed and time 
must be investigated. 

In future studies the target population should also be varied. As Katz 
(1967) has pointed out, age, socio-economic status, and race affect the ability 
to effectively use performance feedback. Because feedback is an important part 
of the individual goal-setting process, these variables should be systematically 
iitvesti gated. 

The significance of this study lies in the establishment of goal-setting 
procedures which affect ongoing classroom achievement and in the more precise 
delineation of the attributes of goal-setting per se . The attributes of goal- 
setting which have been studied will contribute to the general knowledge of goal- 
setting in both school and non-school situations. The goal-setting procedures 
must now be more fully evaluated in everyday classroom use, but tentatively 
provide the teacher with an important motivational technique to improve student 
achi^£:vement . 




10 



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o^ o^ 


<r» On 


ISD 


O U> 


U> 


U> U3 


V 




%* 




%* 




0^ <Tk 


ON ON 


CX) 


U3 U3 


U3 


U3 U> 


N3 ISD 


ISD IS3 


ISD 


h-* h-* 


h-» 


t-» h-* 



/V 


A 




A 


A 




h-* h-* 


h-» h-» 


h-» 


h-» h-* 


h-» 


»-* Ui 


• 


• 


• 


ft 




• 4 


O 


Ui 


»-» 


O 




NO VO 


U3 


h-» 


O 


ON 




NO U> 


ON 


O 


h-» 


00 




VO ^ 






ON 


CO 




U> Ov 



• 


• 


• • 


• 


• • 


• 


• 


• 


4> 




VO h-* 


U3 


U3 Ui 


ON 


oo 


o 


h-» 




4> 00 




ON 


o 


h-» 


o 


O 


00 


Ui VO 


o 


ON 


U3 


Ui 


NO 


Ui 


Ui 


4> ON 


NO 


ON VO 


NO 




ON 

55- 




13 



Multivariate Analysis of Variance 
of Goal-Setting Behavior for Unit B