Educational Goals: How to Foster Learner Autonomy

Why Purpose Matters

Educational goals are often overlooked by teachers and students alike because they seem to be self-evident. After all, we all know why we’re here, right? You’re here to learn, and I’m here to teach!

Setting a Menu

In order to help learners know exactly what they are working towards, the teacher can ask them to define their educational goals in terms of abilities. For instance, in an ESL classroom:

A Few Considerations

As you can see, Specific is a more detailed version of the broad purpose for learning we defined earlier. The broad statement is a good place to start because it provides a general direction, but it should be refined into a more specific target. Be careful to avoid statements like “I want to do better in class” or “I want to improve my English” because these types of educational goals like this do not have distinct purposes.

The Importance of Writing Down Educational Goals

Benjamin Hardy has a good metaphor that illustrates the importance of goal setting: airplanes are off-course for 90% of the flight time due to flight conditions such as turbulence, but they still manage to arrive on time. This is because the pilot is constantly making minor adjustments, and only a few degrees can make the difference of reaching that destination.

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