What are Performance Goals?

This term describes the aims of students who are moved initially by the will to score massively academically and gain some form of external recognition. Thus, performance goals are about getting positive judgments for competence. Such goals focus on the destination (or final result) as students are concerned with how their level of intelligence or competence will be judged based on the consequence of their actions. This contrasts with learning goals that focus on the journey and reflect a desire to enhance competence by learning and mastering new skills, understanding new things, or incorporating feedback to become better at something.

Performance goals focus on short-term achievements and the desired final results. Unlike learning goals, they can be achieved quicker, such as scoring A+ in a class test or scoring 10% more than the last exam.

According to some researchers, performance goal orientations can be divided into performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals. Performance-avoidance goals refer to individuals inspired to avoid negative judgments and appear inferior to others. Performance-approach goals represent those inspired to surpass others and display their superiority.

Performance-approach-oriented students are mainly focused on “being the best” at all costs. Thus, they’re more prone to quit when facing difficulties or after failure. They’re also more likely to cheat or employ other shortcuts to achieve their objectives. Students with performance-avoidance goals are more focused on shunning failure or avoiding appearing incompetent or dumb. Since these students don’t want to be the worst, they often set the bar low and have poor expectations for their own accomplishments.

Given below are some situations where setting performance goals can help students:

  1.     Focus on a particular result

When students are working toward achieving a particular result, it’s helpful to set a performance goal. For example, when working on a science project, a student is likely to chase a specific outcome that he desires to achieve within a fortnight. By setting a performance goal, he can track and evaluate his project results, which will help him to improve over time.

  1.     Complete a task

Whenever a student has an assignment, a performance goal can help guide him to completion. Such goals include clear parameters on what to accomplish and how to accomplish it. For example, if a student needs to row 2000 meters in 10 minutes to join the school’s rowing team, he can set a performance goal of rowing 2000 meters in 9 minutes within a month. Then, every day, he should try rowing faster than the previous day by noting his time (say, 12:52 minutes on the first day, 12:48 on the second, 11:05 on the third, and so on). 

  1.     Participate in a team project

For a team project, team leaders can use performance goals to set the standards for their team. Setting such goals will also help them delegate tasks among team members and give them direction on how to perform the allotted tasks. When the team members accomplish their individual performance goals, the team will have more success. Performance goals can also prove to be helpful to team leaders for reviewing their team members’ performance.

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