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Setting SMART goals and targets

• When the term goal/s is used, it refers to goals that the tutor and learner set
for the course. These are often referred to as ‘short-term goals’. If the
learner is in a workshop or in roll-on roll-off provision, the goals are set for the
period for which the learner is enrolled. This may be until the end of a term or
year.
• The term target/s is used for the smaller steps that learners need to make to
move toward their goal/s.

The acronym SMART is widely used to describe goals and targets. Different people
use different terms but the messages are very similar:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Time related

SMART TARGETS

NOT SMART SMART


I will work on word endings I will be able to add –ful/-
Specific and grammar til/-all correctly to a list of
(Not specific; which word given words.
endings?)

Measurable To improve my punctuation I will be able to insert


(Not measurable; what does ownership apostrophes
improve mean?) into a given text.

Achievable To feel more confident about I will have read two books
my reading from the resources shelf
(It is important to set and be able to discuss
objectives that a learner can these with x.
achieve in the period
available.)

Relevant To write personal letters I will have written and sent


(Is this what the learner an email to my friend Y
needs to do? Some learners without help.
want to write personal
letters, but others may never
do so.)

Time-related To pass the driving theory I will have the confidence


test to take the driving theory
test by July.
SPECIFIC
Specific goals and targets provide:

A CLEAR OUTCOME A CLEAR RANGE


A CLEAR SITUATION OR
PURPOSE
I will be able to:

• Use capital letters for people’s for the members of my


names family

• Read the front page of the to summarise the news


newspaper

ƒ Add three 2-digit numbers to check the hours I have


worked

MEASURABLE

Specific goals and targets will often indicate the criteria for success. In each of the
goals above, it is clear what the learner needs to do to demonstrate his or her skill or
knowledge.

Less specific goals, such as ‘improve my spelling’, provide no indication of the


standard to be met. Learners often underestimate their progress because the task
seems so large. Specific, measurable targets can help the learner to recognise his
or her success and enable teachers to record progress.

ACHIEVABLE

Helping learners to set achievable goals and targets requires skill and experience.
There is a careful balance to be maintained. Learners need to experience early and
continuing success if they are to remain motivated. However, learners also need to
be challenged so that progress is maintained. They may need to be moved out of
their ‘comfort zone’.

RELEVANT

Goals and targets need to be relevant to:

• the learner’s life and particular needs


• the learner’s aspirations and long-term goals
• the agreed learning aim
• the learning environment
Learners will have greater motivation to learn when they recognise the relevance of
the learning to their particular interests, needs and aspirations. Learners on a
vocational course may be motivated by literacy, language or numeracy goals that are
linked clearly to vocational tasks.
Goals need to take account of the learning environment. For example, some skills
would be difficult to practise in a prison.

TIME RELATED

Learners and teachers need to agree a clear timeframe for goals and targets. While
goals may be assessed at the end of the course, targets provide markers on the way
and shorter timescales can be useful. Without a clear idea of the timescale involved,
goals may appear either too daunting, or alternatively, lose their challenge.

(For more information see, “Planning learning and recording progress and
achievement: a guide for practitioners”, DfES, ISBN 1 84478 079 1”)