Skip to content

Blog Post Back to Blog

October 15

Gail Brown

Working memory and goal setting for secondary students, Part 1

  • Mon 7th Jan 2013
  • Gail

Rather than soccer goals, this post focusses on learning goals – probably not as exciting for most teenagers, and yet more important, I’m thinking? And, I've used sport and sporting goals as part of introducing goal setting with teenagers - so it is helpful to know which students are into sport, and what sport?

Our last post focused on working memory and behavioural attention in the early grades, and implications for students’ learning in the early grades. This next post extends and transfers the results from that research to secondary students. 

Equally important, these findings suggest similar difficulties for older students, in secondary grades, especially those with poor attention, poor decoding skills or poor working memory. Maybe, by this age, these difficulties are all present in some teenage students? The challenge for teachers in secondary grades is engage those students with successful learning, tasks they want to do because they succeed. If they don’t want to learn, they won’t do anything unless they are successful – so it’s about ensuring success – using topics that motivate and fit with the curriculum.

You might want to check out this recent article with suggestions for Personal Best Goals setting, by Andrew Martin and his colleagues. Their research shows That motivation is critical in secondary grades, in particular. I’D suggest getting to know your students and discussing what they want to achieve is important. Then, providing examples of specific goals, and providing feedback on how they are “travelling” toward those achievements. Setting goals in specific subject areas, like Science or Maths, that are personal, specific and linked to the curriculum that a teacher is focused on.

If we want to engage these students, we need to assess their reading level, and find materials that they can access and learn from, and Question Skills is one of many available resources, online and offline. Using assessments to make formative decisions when planning instruction can set students up for success.

With end of year fast approaching, these goals take on more focus as reports will be going home very soon. Maybe, with some students, this is a time to set up both short and long term goals, and encourage some reading during the upcoming holidays in whatever they are interested in?

Comments (0)