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Version 1.1 – Updated August 2021

Appropriately challenging goals

Overview

  • Influence: Appropriately challenging goals
  • Domain: Teaching Strategies
  • Sub-Domain: Learning intentions
  • Potential to Accelerate Student Achievement: Potential to considerably accelerate
  • Influence Definition: A necessary precondition for meaningful learning, appropriately challenging goals provide the preconditions for student engagement and the development of intrinsic motivation. Numerous scholars have suggested that students thrive most when teachers describe clearly the ultimate goals of a particular course of instruction, and when they formulate such goals to be challenging but achievable. The Goldilocks’s principle of challenge is not too hard, not too easy, and not too boring.

Evidence

  • Number of meta-analyses: 6
  • Number of studies: 375
  • Number of students: 23,886
  • Number of effects: 473
  • Effect size: 0.59

Meta-Analyses

Meta-Analyses
Journal Title Author First Author's Country Article Name Year Published Variable Number of Studies Number of Students Number of Effects Effect Size
Paper: Academy of Management Proceedings Chidester & Grigsby USA A meta-analysis of the goal setting-performance literature 1984 Goal difficulty 21 1,770 21 0.44
Journal of Applied Psychology Tubbs USA Goal setting: A meta-analytic examination of the empirical evidence 1986 Goal difficulty, specificity and feedback 87 0 147 0.58
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes Mento, Steel, & Karren USA A meta-analytic study of the effects of goal setting on task performance: 1966–1984 1987 Goal difficulty 70 7,407 118 0.58
Remedial and Special Education Burns USA Empirical analysis of drill ratio research: Refining the instructional level for drill tasks 2004 Degree of challenge 55 0 45 0.82
Journal of Applied Psychology Wood, Mento & Locke Australia Task complexity as a moderator of goal effects: a meta-analysis 1987 Goal difficulty 72 7,548 72 0.58
Journal of Applied Psychology Wright USA Operationalization of goal difficulty as a moderator of the goal difficulty-performance relationship 1990 Goal difficulty 70 7,161 70 0.55
TOTAL/AVERAGE 375 23,886 473 0.59

Confidence

The Confidence is the average of these four measures, each divided into five approximately equal groups and assigned a value from 1 to 5 based on the following criteria:

  • Number of Meta-analyses
    • 1 = 1
    • 2 = 2–3
    • 3 = 4–6
    • 4 = 7–9
    • 5 = 10+
  • Number of Studies
    • 1 = 1–10
    • 2 = 11–50
    • 3 = 51–200
    • 4 = 201–400
    • 5 = 400+
  • Number of Students
    • 1 = 1–2,500
    • 2 = 2,501–10,000
    • 3 = 10,000–20,000
    • 4 = 20,000–100,000
    • 5 = 100,001+
  • Number of Effects
    • 1 = 1–100
    • 2 = 101–300
    • 3 = 301–600
    • 4 = 601–1,200
    • 5 = 1,200+
Confidences
Number of Meta-Analyses Number of Studies Number of Students Number of Effects Overall Confidence
Confidence Factor 3 4 4 3 4
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