Abstract: Time spent one-on-one with the teacher for goal setting makes a difference in Language Arts performance. Goals were set collaboratively with a teacher and third grade students. Goals were read daily to keep their focus on the goal and remind them of their action plan to accomplish their goals. Students took a baseline comprehension test and then retested after 12 weeks of working towards their goals. The goal setters almost doubled the non-goal setters’ average score in comprehension. An unexpected result of seventy-five percent of the below grade level readers admitted to having trouble focusing on reading.
BACKGROUND AND NEED
Of 434 third grade students in California,193 students who took the test and received a score and more than half did not meet the state proficiency standard in Language Arts [California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Results, 2018]. Over 51% did not pass the Language Arts section across the state. So more than half of the third grade students are failing in Language Arts throughout the state of California. The state is failing by more than half (51% below Proficiency) and the local school is failing by 63% (below proficiency) in Language Arts at the third grade level.
165 students tested at the study school in northern California and those students were placed in the 33 percentile for English proficiency, compared to the overall state average of 49%. The achievement gap is large between the Hispanic population and the non-Hispanic population. The non-Hispanic students, who make up 54% of the school population, score 52% proficiency when the state average is 64%; however, the Hispanic population is 40% of the students tested and they score 15% proficiency which is significantly below the state average of 37% who score proficient (California Department of Education, California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Results, 2018). There is clearly an achievement gap at this site when when comparing students in the low income and Hispanic subgroups (California Department of Education, California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Results, 2018).
An examination regarding goal setting revealed the following two umbrella themes: growth mindset, motivation and grit were one main theme and teacher feedback (Fisher, Frey, Hattie, 2017) was the other. When it comes to Theme 1: growth mindset, motivation and grit, Dweck, McMillan & Reed, and Pueschel are experts in their field of research. As for Theme 2, teacher feedback, John Hattie, Cabral-Marquez, and numerous other authors dominate the field when motivating students who have low academic self-esteem. When third grade students have not learned to read in their fourth year of formal schooling they come to school defeated (McMillan & Reed, 2010) and sad from hearing from those around them that they are “bad readers” or their siblings telling them that they weren’t good readers.
Carol Dweck is a leading Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and has a passion for researching the implicit theories of intelligence (Dweck, 2006). She is most known for her work on ideologies of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. A growth mindset allows a person to live a more successful life in learning to love challenges and thrive on finding solutions (Dweck, 2006). When it comes to reading and motivation, Dweck’s research has been paramount in setting the jumping off point to some of the most current powerhouses on instilling motivation and grit in students. The long term effects include intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation (McMillan & Reed, 2010), setting students up to have personal drive, and to be lifelong learners when it comes to reading or any subject.
According to John Hattie there are many influences or approaches to learning in micro-teaching that can offer upwards of a year or two of growth by using effective strategies (Fisher, Frey, and Hattie, 2017). Teachers who engage in feedback conversations with their students, have the ability to enhance the learning environment by creating open, honest, and supportive lines of communication ( Conroy, Sutherland, Snyder, & Hendawi, 2009; Marrs, Zumbrunn, McBride, & Stringer, 2016; Zumbrunn, Marrs, & Mewborn, 2016). Making self-goals increases self-efficacy and self-motivation.
Also, Andrew Pueschel was a key literary mind when researching ‘grit’ alongside ‘growth mindset’ in much support of the Dweck ideologies. These two academic leaders in the motivation and mindset community have inspired the research of motivating struggling readers to find more creative ways to become self-motivated and mindful readers in their reading progress.
According to these authors goal setting builds confidence and strength while also building self-efficacy in students for their own goals (Fisher, Frey and Hattie, 2012). Writing goals down and reading them daily keep the focus of their personal reading goals and helps students make a personal commitment (Clear, 2018). The researcher, Cabral-Marquez interviewed students in 2015 individually and that was a powerful way to connect with students and show support to their individualized reading goals. Setting goals for themselves helped learners to self regulate and set challenging goals for themselves as learners (Zimmerman, Bandura, Martinez-Ponz, 1992). Goal setting one-on-one with the teacher reinforced the support and motivation (Cabral-Marquez, 2015) of the student pursuing literacy goals. Two main themes prevailed. One around growth mindset, motivation, and grit and the other on the importance of teacher feedback. These prior researchers lead to the influence on goal setting one-on-one with a mentor teacher.