Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation – Locke and Latham 

The authors summarize 35 years of empirical research on goal-setting theory. They describe the core findings of the theory, the mechanisms by which goals operate, moderators of goal effects, the relation of goals and satisfaction, and the role of goals as mediators of incentives. The external validity and practical significance of goal-setting theory are explained, and new directions in goal-setting research are discussed. The relationships of goal setting to other theories are described as are the theory’s limitations. 

Goal setting theory of motivation – Lunenburg

Locke and Latham provide a well-developed goal-setting theory of motivation. The theory emphasises the important relationship between goals and performance. Research supports predictions that the most effective performance seems to result when goals are specific and challenging, when they are used to evaluate performance and linked to feedback on results, and create commitment and acceptance. The motivational impact of goals may be affected by moderators such as ability and self-efficacy. Deadlines improve the effectiveness of goals. A learning goal orientation leads to higher performance than a performance goal orientation, and group goal-setting is as important as individual goal-setting.

Procrastination, deadlines and performance: Using precommitment to regulate one’s behaviour - Ariely, Daniel and Klaus Wertenbroch 

Procrastination is all too familiar to most people. People delay writing up their research (so we hear!), repeatedly declare they will start their diets tomorrow, or postpone until next week doing odd jobs around the house. Yet people also sometimes attempt to control their procrastination by setting deadlines for themselves. In this article, we pose three questions: (a) Are people willing to self-impose meaningful (i.e., costly) deadlines to overcome procrastination? (b) Are self-imposed deadlines effective in improving task performance? (c) When self-imposing deadlines, do people set them optimally, for maximum performance enhancement? A set of studies examined these issues experimentally, showing that the answer is “yes” to the first two questions, and “no'’ to the third. People have self-control problems, they recognize them, and they try to control them by self-imposing costly deadlines. These deadlines help people control procrastination, but they are not as effective as some externally imposed deadlines in improving task performance.

Motivation goals during adolescence: A cross-sectional perspective - Caroline F. Mansfield 

Goal theory perspectives on motivation are at the forefront of research regarding adolescents’ motivation in learning contexts, focusing on the purposes (both academic and social) individuals perceive for engaging in achievement related behaviour. Much research however, has focused on early adolescence, meaning there is limited research regarding late adolescence or the relevance of particular goals as students mature. This study examines the achievement and social goals of secondary school students at early and late adolescence, using quantitative and qualitative data to explore differences in goals and goal relationships at each age level. Participants were 128 junior (ages 12-13) and 67 senior (ages 15-17) students from two metropolitan secondary schools in Western Australia. Results showed that junior students scored higher than senior students on all achievement goals and relationship goals, yet there were no significant differences between the groups for status and responsibility goals.In addition, mastery, relationship and responsibility goals were related for junior, but not for senior students. Implications for future research are discussed.

Setting, Elaborating, and Reflecting on Personal Goals Improves Academic Performance - Morisano D, Hirsh JB, Peterson JB, Pihl RO and Shore BM 

Of students who enroll in 4-year universities, 25% never finish. Precipitating causes of early departure include poor academic progress and lack of clear goals and motivation. In the present study, we investigated whether an intensive, online, written, goal-setting program for struggling students would have positive effects on academic achievement. Students (N = 85) experiencing academic difficulty were recruited to participate in a randomized, controlled intervention. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 intervention groups: Half completed the goal-setting program, and half completed a control task with intervention-quality face validity. After a 4-month period, students who completed the goal-setting intervention displayed significant improvements in academic performance compared with the control group. The goal-setting program thus appears to be a quick, effective, and inexpensive intervention for struggling undergraduate students.

From will to skill: The psychology of motivation, instruction and learning in today’s classroom – Martin, Andrew 

Many factors and processes operate in the classroom to affect academic learning. These factors and processes can be broadly categorised into two groups: will and skill (Covington, 1992). 'Will' refers to student motivation, while 'skill' refers to t he knowledge and competencies centrally relevant to performing academic tasks. Research and theory generally confirm that will precedes skill ; that is, motivation represents the inner drive and activity that provides the impetus, energy and direction required to develop and sustain one's knowledge and competence.