Diving into my Research
Goal setting, technology, Google Calendar, Bandura, student efficacy
Click on the video above for a quick snapshot of my research and findings.
Please keep in mind, this was my first attempt on creating a video.
Background and Need; Rationale
According to The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), in 2015 the percentage of 4th graders nationwide scoring at or above proficient in math was 40%. In addition, the percentage of students scoring proficient decreased to 33% in grade 8, and continued to decrease to 25% in grade 12. As the students continue their education and move up in grade, math proficiency further decreases. In comparison to the past years, the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced has gone from 41% in 2011 to 42% in 2013, and decreased to 40% in 2015. Growing only one or two points average a year in math is telling us something is not working.
Fourth grade students in California scored an average of 232 points on a scale of 0 to 500. This average is significantly lower than the average for national public school students in the nation scoring 240 points. In comparison to other states, California is in the bottom 3, sharing similar scores with Alabama and New Mexico. Furthermore, there is a wide gap between the different demographic groups in California. The average scale score for a white student was 245, Hispanic average was 222, and African American also had an average of 222. And the achievement gap keeps widening with a 25 point scale score difference between English learners and non-English learners (nationsreportcard.gov, 2015).
The district where the research for this study was conducted adopted a rigorous math curriculum in 2015-2016, called Bridges, and an intervention program for math facts, called Fastt Math. In hopes to improve math proficiency scores and help prepare students to become college and career ready by the time they graduated 12th grade, a math lead coach position for Bridges was started at every elementary school to help teachers transition well into the new program. Last academic year the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) indicated the percentage of 3rd graders scoring proficient or advanced in math was 31% in comparison to 4th grade at 25% and 5th grade at 13%. Due to this matter, teachers at the Northern California school where this study was conducted were expected to create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound (S.M.A.R.T) goals around math education. Students are given the Math Inventory (MI) three times a year, along with state interim and practice exams, giving students many opportunities to practice and overcome their math challenges. Despite new curriculum and intervention programs in place, this school has not been able to produce significant growth.
A study (Gross, Duhon, Rowland, Schutte, & Williams, 2014) involving 50 first grade students on goal setting and rewards with math subtraction fluency probes compared and evaluated the effect of goal lines and researcher versus self-selected goals on first grade subtraction fluency. The group with the highest achievement effect was the one with researcher selected goals with goal lines. Students that met their target goals were able to increase their subtraction digit fluency. The attainment goal percentages were as follows: Researcher selected goals was 54%, researcher selected goals with goal-lines was 59%, and self-selected goals group only attained 40% of their goals. In addition, this last group had 6 students not receive a prize at all, meaning during the 6 weeks, they never met their goal. This study shows evidence that first grade students might be too young to set their own goals and would have a greater achievement effect if guided by their teachers. One of the limitations found in this study was the sample size. The sample size was composed of 3 first grade classrooms from the same school; the results could have provided more information if they had used different first grade classrooms from different schools.
One study (Abe, Llogu, & Madueke, 2013) investigated the difference in posttest scores on English language learners exposed to goal-setting skills training. Out of 17 public secondary schools in Enugu, Nigeria, two schools were selected. The results revealed a significant difference between the pre and post exams. The goal setting skills group had a mean difference of 14.7 points, while the control group showed a mean difference of .78. The results confirmed the theory that setting goals and targets allow students to stay focus and provides them with a sense of direction to help us achieve aims without getting abstracted. Furthermore, goal setting improves confidence and improves performance and recognition of one’s ability to achieve goals. One of the study’s strengths, was the fact that all 147 students from both schools were given a baseline assessment of 20 items adapted from the Self-Efficacy Scale by Sherer et al (1982). The instrument was used to assess the goal setting ability of the students.
There are many factors that influence the effectiveness of a goal. The first important factor is to have a clear and defined goal as opposed to “do a good job”. Well defined goals help individuals discover and use efficient strategies and modes of thought and perception ( Locke & Latham, 2002) In one study for example, Chang (2012) explored the effects of specific goals vs. vague goals on language learning students. Students in the experimental group were given clear individual goals from their instructor, whereas, the control group were told to “do your best” and “work hard”. Results showed that the specific goal group outperformed the control group. A popular mnemonic used today in many areas including education and self-help programs are “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely Goals” or SMART Goals. Clear goals increase self-efficacy and persistence, making individuals less receptive to undermining effects of anxiety, disappointment, and frustration (Schunk, 1990).
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