Growth goal setting - what works best in practice poster

This poster was originally published 9 June 2021.

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About growth goal setting

Growth goal setting involves striving to meet personally-set academic challenges, aiming to outperform one’s previous best efforts or performance.

Main findings

  • Research shows that growth goal setting improves achievement and student engagement.
  • Students who set growth goals are more likely to experience gains in aspirations, perseverance and homework behaviour.
  • Growth goal setting bolsters outcomes, particularly for students of low socioeconomic backgrounds and with low prior achievement.
  • Growth goal setting can be fostered through explicit teaching, provision of feedback and relevant content.

How to help students set growth goals

  1. Understand growth goals: Growth goals are specific, challenging and focused on self-improvement.
  2. Pick a type of goal to set: Goals should be adapted to the learning process: decide whether to set a learning, process or product goal. Also decide whether the goal should focus on the learning pathway or the learning outcome.
  3. Define the goal: Effective growth goals are positive and measurable. How does the student know that they attained their goal?
  4. Assess against previous experience.
  5. Specify a timeframe: Short-term goals are more effective than longer-term goals. Goals can be nested in daily, weekly, monthly and long-term goals.
  6. Break the goal down into components.
  7. Monitor and assess progress: Measurement can be teacher- or student-led.
  8. Seek help and feedback: Reflect on what can be done to progress towards the goal.
  9. Determine if goal is achieved.
  10. Set the next growth goal.


  • Poster

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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