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Goal Setting and Reflection


Incorporating goal setting and reflection into your courses can help facilitate students' metacognitive and self-regulation skills. Regular reflection on learning and performance can help students pinpoint behaviors they may need to address in order to be more successful in their coursework. While you may have concerns that this will take too much time, reflection can be integrated in a time-efficient manner. Read below for some ideas on how to incorporate goal setting and reflection.

Tips for Incorporating Goal Setting and Reflection

  1. Ask students to complete a learning contract and set two learning goals for the semester. Have students revisit their learning contracts and goals at regular points (e.g., every 4 weeks) and reflect on their progress.
  2. Ask students to reflect on the courses that are prerequisites for your course. Have students respond to reflective questions such as the challenges they faced in those courses, how much they think they remember, and reasons why they think those courses were required to take the current course. You could pair this with small group or whole class discussion for a more in-depth experience.
  1. Exam wrappers and/or assignment wrappers can be useful in promoting reflection regarding preparation and performance for those assessments.
  2. At the end of each week or unit, have students submit a quick free write (3-5 minutes) at the end of class regarding what concepts they clearly understood and which concepts are still unclear. Ask them to share any strategies they've tried or plan on trying to help their learning.
  3. Do a quick, anonymous in-class poll. Ask students to rate themselves on a scale with questions like I prepare for each class period, I complete the readings before class, I review my notes after class. Seeing the results can open up a discussion on better study and reading strategies.
  4. Consider asking students to complete regular self-ratings of different skills you'd like them to develop over the semester (e.g., professionalism, teamwork, communication). If groupwork is a component of your class, have students rate their group mates on the same areas. Have students compare their self-ratings with their ratings by peers.
  1. Have students write a letter of advice to the next group of students who will be taking your class. They could incorporate tips for studying, how to approach readings, advice on projects. etc.
  2. Have students complete a brief reflection paper on what they learned and how that information will be used in future courses or their careers. This could also be adapted into a class discussion activity.