The Importance of Students Setting Math Goals

Posted on January 4, 2011. Filed under: Assessment, Classroom environment, Differentiated Instruction, Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: , , , , |

It’s a New Year!  It’s time to think, reflect and plan…that leads me right into a discussion of setting math goals with students.  The research shows that verbal and visual feedback on performance has an impact on student achievement!  Students need to know how they are doing and how to get better at it.  They need time to process that information.  The research shows that when feedback is displayed in a graph format students “get it” even more (Fuchs & Fuchs; Gunter, Miller, & Venn, 2003; Sutherland & Snyder, 2007 cited in Figarola, Gunter, Reffel, Worth, Hummel, Gerber 2008). Moreover, researchers found that when students received feedback and set goals, they got better in math (Codding, Lewandowski, and Eckert 2005 cited in Figarola et. al 2008 ).

Figarola et. al, found that students both with and without dis/Abilities could benefit from  using computers to graph their math progress. These researchers argue that once teachers figure out how to automate the process of graphing the data, that it is easy and that “graphs serve as a powerful visual means to document student progress on an ongoing basis and can be shared with parents and administrators.”  Also, teachers can make quick instructional decisions based on the graphs.

Try graphing the data and having your students set goals based on that data!  When students know where they are going, they are much more likely to get there!


(See this article about first and second graders graphing the data and action planning and not only meeting but exceeding their goals!)

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki



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2 Responses to “The Importance of Students Setting Math Goals”

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Happy New Year Dr Nicki,
Your suggestion about setting math goals with students is so relevant and powerful. I can tell you about my experience this year. Besides the usual posting of data from district benchmark assessments, we use our pre- and post- test for chapters, and common formative assessments as data for students to self-evaluate. After the post-tests, I usually will talk to the math classes in grades 5-8 and then to indivdual students about their progress. Also, the students have a sticker in their planners which they post all their test results. In their math journals, they keep track of all their pre- and post- tests, homework and performance-based math tasks, and long-term projects. The teachers discuss strategies for reteaching and then develop the CFA for the specific topic. This now includes small group instruction. (At least in Grades 5 and 6). Grades 7 and 8 are still a work in progress. The students are quite aware of how they are doing and I talk with students who are “slipping”. The article about the grade 1 students graphing their progress is excellent. We even have parent meetings with certain students who we think have the ability and try to find ways to motivate them. I need your information to support my efforts so teachers, parents, and students realize that setting goals and refining those goals is essential for success in mathematics.
Many thanks,


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