This study is based on my experience as a special educator and coach at a public high school in southeastern Massachusetts. Anecdotally, I have observed problems in motivating some students to achieve performance results in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in the weight room. It also seems to me that some students and athletes have difficulty seeing how their decision-making process within the moment can impact long term results. These students and athletes often become too dependent on external direction from a teacher or coach, instead of being intrinsically motivated to achieve goals.
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Goal-setting and its impact on performance have been examined by researchers for decades. Locke and Latham (2002) created a research collaboration in 1974, and jointly developed a Theory of Goal Setting based on a proliferation of studies on conscious goal-setting and its impact on achievement. The purpose of this study is to determine if goal-setting helps increase an athlete’s performance and their perceptions of performance in a summer strength program at a public high school in southeastern Massachusetts.
A consistent problem for teachers and coaches is determining how to best motivate our students and athletes. This intervention will include both long and short term goal-setting interventions to determine if it improves performance. A previous study by Wack, Crosland, and Miltenberger (2014) examined if running performance could be increased when both long and short term goals were introduced. These results indicate that further investigation is needed to see if goal-setting interventions can be implemented across multiple settings. In this study, goal- setting interventions will be implemented in the context of a strength training program at a public high school in southeastern Massachusetts.
This study will include quantitative and qualitative procedures to examine goal-settings impact on performance for high school students in a summer strength training program. Benchmark data will be collected from all participants before the summer strength training program begins, including the total maximum weight lifted for the three major lifts. These lifts include the bench press, squat press, and power clean. Once the benchmark data is collected, participants will create detailed short and long term goals. The short term goals will be adjusted weekly based on a reflection of the previous week’s goal. Final data will also be collected during week 6 of the summer strength and conditioning program. The data will include total from each participant’s maximum lift in the bench press, squat press, and power clean. Participant perceptions from a final goal-setting questionnaire will also be collected to analyze its impact on goal-setting and achievement.
In what ways does goal-setting impact performance and perceptions of performance for high school student-athletes in a summer strength training program at a public high school in southeastern Massachusetts?
Locke and Latham (2002) conducted numerous studies on goal-setting and incorporated them into a much larger Theory of Goal Setting. One study conducted by Locke and Latham in 1990 showed that people who had specific and harder to attain goals performed better than people who had less specific goals. In my investigation, I hypothesized that increased motivation due to following a goal-setting procedure would increase performance and perceptions of performance for student-athletes participating in a strength training goal-setting program at a public high school in southeastern Massachusetts.
Since the creation of the Goal Setting Theory in 1974, there have been numerous investigations into how goal-setting impacts motivation and performance. A study by Zimmerman, Bandura, and Martinez-Pons (1992) investigated how academic achievement was impacted by student self-perception and through personal goal-setting. The study found that combining a person’s belief in their ability with goal-setting helped improve student academic achievement. Morisano, Hirsh, Peterson, Pihl, and Shore (2010) researched and found that an online goal-setting program had, on average, a significantly better grade point average than the control group. Travers, Morisano, and Locke (2015) implemented a qualitative study to determine the impact of reflection and the setting of goals on academic achievement. The results of this study indicated a significant improvement in student grades for the group that participated in the goal-setting and reflective process. Weinberg and Weigand (1993) also examined how setting specific and measurable goals improved performance. Lerner and Locke (1995) created a study that would analyze goal-settings impact on performance. Within this study, Lerner and Locke tested the difference between a detailed and specific goal versus less specific goals. The results of this study indicated that the groups with a more specific goal performed better than the groups with less specific goals. Johnson, Moore, and Thornton (2014) also examined and found that performance could be increased after periodic reflections. These periodic reflections along with setting specific and attainable goals within a time frame were integral to my current intervention.
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In following Locke and Latham’s (2002) Theory of Goal Setting, my investigation attempts to measure goal-settings impact in a summer strength training program at a public high school in southeastern Massachusetts. Within this study, the participants created specific and attainable goals within a designated timeframe. My intervention also asked the participants to create both short and long term goals. My intention in creating short and long term goals was to hopefully create process and outcome goals to analyze whether they each individually or combined had an impact on performance and perceptions of performance.
This is a mixed-methods study that used qualitative data to better inform quantitative results. This method helped me determine how goal-setting impacts performance and perceptions of performance at a summer strength training program at a public high school in southeastern Massachusetts. A previous study by Wack et al. (2014), used similar interventions to measure goal-settings impact on running performance over a multiple week period.
Nine student-athletes volunteered and participated in the study. Of the nine student-athletes in the study, eight were male and one was female. Each participant is about to enter their senior year of high school. The study occurred at a strength training facility at a public high school in southeastern Massachusetts. The nine person cohort participated in a strength training program that ran from 6:30 am to 7:45 am on Monday and Wednesday for six weeks. The study began on June 19th and concluded on August 2nd.
Two interventions were administered during this mixed-methods study. The first intervention required participants to create a long term goal for increasing their combined lift total for the bench press, squat press, and clean. In addition, the participants provided their current lift total prior to the start of the strength training program. The second intervention required the participants to create a weekly short term goal that would be adjusted based on a reflective process. At the end of the study, participants completed a goal-setting questionnaire and completed their final lifts to be tallied and compared versus benchmark data.
The study included a mixed method design that incorporates the use of quantitative and qualitative data. A goal-setting procedure was completed prior to the start of the study which included gathering quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data collected was the beginning lift total to be compared to the final result. The qualitative data collected was the setting of short and long term goals. A second goal-setting procedure was also conducted on a weekly basis. The qualitative data collected was the perceptions of weekly outcomes and the creation of a new weekly goal based on the prior week’s results. Final data were also collected during week six of the summer strength and conditioning program. The quantitative data collected included combined total from each participant’s maximum lift in the bench press, squat press, and power clean. Qualitative data from the final goal-setting questionnaire was also collected to examine how goal-setting impacts achievement. This study included quantitative and qualitative procedures to examine goal-settings impact on performance and perceptions of performance for high school students in a summer strength training program at a local high school in southeastern Massachusetts.
- Johnson, C., Moore, E., & Thornton, M. (2014). A SMART approach to motivating students in secondary physical education: Editor: Ferman Konukman. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 85(4), 42-44.
- Lerner, B. S., & Locke, E. A. (1995). The effects of goal setting, self-efficacy, competition, and personal traits on the performance of an endurance task. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17(2), 138-152.
- Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American psychologist, 57(9), 705-717.
- Morisano, D., Hirsh, J. B., Peterson, J. B., Pihl, R. O., & Shore, B. M. (2010). Setting, elaborating, and reflecting on personal goals improves academic performance. Journal of applied psychology, 95(2), 255-264.
- Travers, C. J., Morisano, D., & Locke, E. A. (2015). Self‐reflection, growth goals, and academic outcomes: A qualitative study. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(2), 224-241.
- Wack, S. R., Crosland, K. A., & Miltenberger, R. G. (2014). Using goal setting and feedback to increase weekly running distance. Journal of applied behavior analysis, 47(1), 181-185.
- Weinberg, R., & Weigand, D. (1993). Goal setting in sport and exercise: A reaction to Locke. Journal of sport and Exercise Psychology, 15(1), 88-96.
- Zimmerman, B. J., Bandura, A., & Martinez-Pons, M. (1992). Self-motivation for academic attainment: The role of self-efficacy beliefs and personal goal setting. American educational research journal, 29(3), 663-676.
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