Growth orientation

Growth orientation is a research-based measure from the Tell Them From Me surveys. It is a source of evidence linked to What works best and the School Excellence Framework.

What is it?

Growth orientation refers to the extent to which students aim for self-improvement by setting academic personal best goals and challenging goals for themselves in their schoolwork. Academic personal bests (PBs) are personalised goals or targets which students strive to match or exceed their previous performance.

The Tell Them From Me surveys ask students about their goal-setting behaviours at school to determine the extent to which they try to set academic goals for themselves. The results are reported as the percentage of students with a positive growth orientation.

Why is it important?

Goal-setting is positively associated with self-efficacy, perseverance, class participation, enjoyment of school and intellectual engagement. Growth goals help students direct attention and effort towards the goal-relevant tasks that are important for learning. In the long-term, students who engage in goal-setting behaviour while learning have improved academic outcomes. Such behaviours can also shift students’ implicit beliefs about their own intelligence and help create a positive “growth” mentality.

School improvement links

School Excellence Framework element What works best theme
Wellbeing Wellbeing

Evidence base

Martin, A. J. (2006). Personal bests (PBs): A proposed multidimensional model and empirical analysis. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(4), 803-825.

Martin, A. J. (2015). Implicit theories about intelligence and growth (personal best) goals: Exploring reciprocal relationships. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(2), 207-223.

Martin, A. J., & Elliot, A. J. (2016). The role of personal best (PB) goal setting in students' academic achievement gains. Learning and Individual Differences, 45, 222-227.

Martin, A. J., & Liem, G. A. D. (2010). Academic personal bests (PBs), engagement, and achievement: A cross-lagged panel analysis. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(3), 265-270.

Martin, A.J., Durksen, T., Williamson, D., Kiss, J., & Ginns, P. (2014). Personal best (PB) goal setting and students’ motivation in science: A study of science valuing and aspirations. Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 31, 85-96.

Mento, A., Locke, E., & Klein, H. (1992). Relationship of goal level to valence and instrumentality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 395–405.

Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (1992). The development of achievement task values: A theoretical analysis. Developmental Review, 12, 265–310.

Image: This explainer has been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar.

Explainers of the Tell Them From Me measures have been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar. The Tell Them From Me measures are provided by, and remain the intellectual property of, The Learning Bar. The explainers can also be found online within the Tell Them From Me portal. Tell Them From Me and TTFM are trademarks of The Learning Bar.


  • Student engagement and wellbeing
  • Tell Them From Me

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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