Using SMART Goals for Metacognition

This paper outlines an integrated learning strategy for English Language Arts (ELA) 10 at an adult learning centre in Vancouver’s inner city. 

MA ELM 570, August 2013

Aligning Curriculum and Assessment: Using SMART Goals for Metacognition

Introduction

 “The stages of curriculum development should result in a document that addresses content, educational experiences, and educational environments in keeping with the school’s aims, goals, and objectives (Ornstein and Hunkins, 2009, p.240).”

In keeping with this description of effective curriculum development, this paper will outline an integrated learning strategy for English Language Arts (ELA) 10 at an adult learning centre in Vancouver’s inner city. The lesson will focus on a prescribed learning outcome in the B.C. Ministry of Education’s Integrated Resource Package for English Language Arts, Grade 10 (2007). This learning outcome describes the use of metacognitive strategies for reflection and assessment of personalized learning goals in the Thinking categories of Oral Language, Reading and Viewing, and Writing and Representing. The proposed learning strategy will combine attributes of scientific and non-scientific approaches to curriculum development, appeal to a variety of learning styles, and identify a balanced set of assessment tools and strategies.

Contextual Information

The Vancouver School Board’s (VSB) Adult Education mission statement states that, “At the most fundamental level adult education exists to empower adult learners to reach educational and personal success in a supportive, flexible, community-based environment (Robertson, 2013, p.1).” This mission is very much in practice at Hastings Education Centre (Hastings), one of six VSB adult learning centres. Hastings is considered a small school, with only 15 teachers, three haphazardly appointed classrooms, and a self-paced learning centre which doubles as a computer lab. Classes run six days a week and four evenings. Structured classes, which are approximately 100 hours long, are completed in 9 weeks or 18 weeks during the regular school year and 6 weeks in the summer. Self-paced classes can run from 1 to 10 months. Student intake is continuous, enrollment is often interrupted and usually part time.  It is worth noting that while this method of enrollment and scheduling is in keeping with the school’s mission, it affects the overall balance of assessment because it makes annual accountability testing impossible. Indeed, sporadic enrolment means that all assessment must occur within the span of an individual course.

The majority of students at Hastings are Asian immigrants but there are students from all corners of the world, including Canada. Although all students share the goal of upgrading their numeracy and/or literacy skills, their learning needs are exceptionally diverse. Some students are highly educated, and others are uneducated. Some have learning disabilities, and others have issues with mental health. Some feel anxious, some feel ashamed, and others feel enormous pride in their accomplishment. Some are wealthy, but most are not. Some are religious, and some are not. Some are old, and others are less old. Many have survived atrocities, most can only imagine what that might be like. One thing is for certain: some combination of these realities will be represented in every class.

Metacognition in Literacy Learning

While diversity can make a classroom an interesting place to learn, it can quickly lead to confusion. Effective communication requires a common understanding. This can be difficult to achieve in a classroom of adult students with distinct and established ideas about how learning should occur. For example, experienced students who have been successful in their country of origin can feel dissatisfied with teaching methods used in a typical North American classroom. Instead of identifying the new learning styles as different, students see them as inferior, citing unfamiliar things like informality or open-ended questions as a waste of time. Conversely, students who struggle with basic acts of learning are often bewildered by their lack of academic success, citing poor instruction as the cause. In either case, the students’ responses to frustration have prevented achievement of the aim of ELA 10, “to provide students with opportunities for personal and intellectual growth through speaking, listening, reading, viewing, writing, and representing to make meaning of the world and to prepare them to participate effectively in all aspects of society (BC Ministry of education, 2007, p.2).”

This frustration could be reduced by improved communication about learning goals through increased instruction in metacognition and involvement in the assessment process. Sadler states, “The indispensible conditions for improvement are that the student comes to hold a concept of quality roughly similar to that held by the teacher, is able to monitor continuously the quality of what is being produced during the act of production itself, and has a repertoire of alternative moves or strategies from which to draw at any given point (Chappius, 2010, p.69).”

The 2007 BC ELA curriculum also “emphasizes the teaching of metacognitive strategies for self-monitoring, self- correcting, reflecting, and goal-setting to improve learning (p.19).” “By analysing tasks and the strategies needed for success, students construct an understanding of what is needed to fully meet expectations. Through this construction of meaning they are able to take ownership of their learning and to adapt and modify their strategies and approaches as a context requires (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2001). (BC Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 20).” By becoming more aware of their role in the act of learning, students will be better able to recognize and assess personal barriers to success. Mitigating the frustration that stems from miscommunication about the process of learning allows the students to use assessment as learning. Furthermore, the ability to identify success can motivate the student to overcome frustration associated with learning. “Students develop strong academic confidence by being fully engaged in a task and relying on themselves as resources. (Chappius, 2010, p.79).”  This is assessment for learning.

Improved communication can also inform assessment of learning. When teachers and students approach assessment collaboratively, teachers can more accurately determine the skills, needs, and interests of the students. Teachers can then motivate student interest, improve accuracy of assessment, and encourage academic success by increasing the relevance of future lessons.

Unit Outline

The following unit proposes a series of seven lessons that span the duration of a course. The first three lessons should scheduled in quick succession near the beginning of the course. The remaining four lessons should span the remainder of the course, with the final paper due near the end of the course. To encourage reflection, grading should be avoided when feedback will suffice. Marking for participation is appropriate. The final paper would be appropriate as part of a portfolio submission, particularly because of its focus on evidence of learning.

The lessons teach students to use a goal setting strategy (SMART goals), to create personalized learning goals and facilitate metacognition. In accordance with research-based elements emphasized in the 2007 English Language Arts Curriculum (p.18), the lessons appeal to multiple literacies as students make meaning though a variety of activities including reading, discussing, writing, viewing, and graphic representation. The lessons integrate all three organizers of the ELA curriculum: reading and viewing, speaking and listening, and writing and representing. The reflective practice in these activities encourages revision that leads to improved critical literacy. As student progress through the lessons, they also progress through formative assessment, self-assessment, and summative assessment. Students can experience authentic and challenging learning experiences because the lessons are personalized. Because the goals are measurable, students can learn to take responsibility for assessing their learning.

SMART Goals

SMART goals offer an accessible strategy to engage students in reflection about their learning needs. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. By identifying these five components of an effective goal, SMART goals provide a common language to discuss and assess achievement. These individual components work together to create a complex statement. In this way SMART goals allow students to work their way up Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, which the ELA curriculum classifies as knowledge, understanding and application, and higher mental processes (2007, p.43).

Cognitive Domain Taxonomies

Although Bloom’s taxonomy is useful and directly relevant to the curriculum that these lessons intend to address, Chappius makes a sound observation when he suggests that David Jonassen and Martin Tessmer’s more recent taxonomy is more relevant because it “takes into account not just the standard cognitive domain but also metacognition, motivation, and the very structures of knowledge (Chappius, 2007, p.231).” Because these categories are so closely related to the PLO the proposed unit addresses, I have included a category in the unit plan chart that identifies the relevant domain as described by Jonassen and Tessmer (p. 231-233).

Targeted PLOs

The proposed lessons on identifying, writing and revising SMART goals address many of the 2007 BC IRP for ELA, Grade 10 PLOs; but the focus is on one PLO that is repeated in the Thinking sections of each of the curriculum organizers (emphasis mine).

“A11:  use metacognitive strategies to reflect on and assess their speaking and listening, by – referring to criteria
– setting goals for improvement
– creating a plan for achieving goals 
– evaluating progress and setting new goals (p.56).”

“B11:  use metacognitive strategies to reflect on and assess their reading and viewing, by – referring to criteria
– setting goals for improvement
– creating a plan for achieving goals 
– evaluating progress and setting new goals (p.58).”

“C11:  use metacognitive strategies to reflect on and assess their writing and representing, by 
– relating their work to criteria
– setting goals for improvement
– creating a plan for achieving goals
– evaluating progress and setting new goals (p.60).”

Aims, Goals, and Objectives 

The following aims, goals, objectives are for the unit on SMART goals. They have been

generated according to guidelines set out by Chappius (2009, pp.44- 48).

 Aims:

  • Develop accuracy of expression through metacognition
  • Increase student success through self-knowledge
  • Motivate student engagement

Goals:

  • Learn about the PLOs in the ELA curriculum
  • Reflect on how PLOs relate to learning styles and the course content
  • Learn about the diversity of learning styles
  • Develop skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening
  • Develop a desire to learn
  • Learn how to examine and use information

 Objectives:

  • Write a SMART goal to recognize and assess progress
  • Develop a sense of inquiry about personal learning styles

Unit Plan Chart

LESSON OBJECTIVE

LESSON

ACTIVITY

LESSON OUTCOME

ELA CURRICULUM ORGANIZER

COGNITIVE DOMAIN

ASSESSMENT

STRATEGY

1.
  • · Understand different learning styles and identify personal learning

preferences.

  • · Understand ELA 10 PLOs.
Learning styles questionnaire, discussion, readings. Complete questionnaire
  • Reading and viewing
  • Speaking and listening

 

  • Structural knowledge
  • Mental models
  • Self-knowledge
  • Executive control strategies
  • Motivation
  • Individual and group discussion
2.

Know, identify, and evaluate the components of a SMART goal.Understand, analyze and evaluate exemplars and existing criteria.Complete exercise on identifying effective SMART goals.

  • Reading and viewing
  • Speaking and listening
  • Writing and representing
  • Structural knowledge
  • Motivation
  • Objective questions
  • Individual and group discussion

3.

 

Write three SMART goals for this course:

#1 Oral Language #2 Reading and Viewing

#3 Writing and Representing.Relate the 3 categories of PLOs to 3 personalized SMART goals.Write three SMART goals for this course.

  • Writing and representing
    • Mental models
    • Self knowledge
    • Executive control strategies
    • Motivation

 

  • · Objective (checklist)
  • · Individual and group discussion
  • · Wholistic writing assessment

4.Reflect on progress by assessing SMART goal #1, revising if necessary.Reflect and evaluate. Share. Discuss progress of SMART goal #1 with teacher and at least one other student.Revise Goal #1 and/or make notes on progress.

  • Speaking and listening
  • Writing and representing
    • Self-knowledge
    • Executive control strategies
    • Motivation
  • Individual and group discussion
  • Wholistic, informal writing assessment, focus on content and encouraging reflection
  • Oral feedback

5.Reflect on progress by assessing SMART goal #2, revising if necessary.

Reflect and evaluate.

Share.

Make a poster (computer or paper based) using at least one image to describe the progress of SMART goal #2.Visual representation of goal #2.

Informal presentation to with small group.

  • Reading and viewing
  • Speaking and listening
  • Writing and representing
    • Self-knowledge
    • Executive control strategies
    • Motivation
  • Individual and group discussion
  • Wholistic, informal assessment
  • Oral feedback
  • Brief, individual notes on progress, focus on content and form and encouraging reflection.

6.Reflect on progress by assessing SMART goal #3, revising if necessary.

Reflect and evaluate on Goal #3 in a journal entry format.

Written reflection of the progress of SMART goal #3.

  • Writing and representing
    • Self-knowledge
    • Executive control strategies
    • Motivation
  • Wholistic, informal assessment of writing, focus on content and encouraging reflection.

7.Reflect on progress on specific goals and general achievement in course.

Reflect and evaluate in a journal.

Write an essay summarizing the process of not/achieving the three goals and analyzing and evaluating the experience.

  • Writing and representing
    • Ill-structured problems
    • Ampliative Skills
    • Motivation
    • Self-knowledge
    • Executive control strategies
    • Rubric-based assessment of writing, as per BC Performance Standards for Writing, Grade 10 

Conclusion

This series of lessons allows students to explore and define their learning strengths and weaknesses. It is accessible to a diverse group of students because the activities target a variety of learning styles. Because the SMART goals are personalized, the opportunity to create relevant learning experiences is great. Furthermore, using SMART goals as a strategy to teach metacognition will improve accuracy of assessment because it investigates student learning on every cognitive level.

It is my hope that this curriculum for Grade 10 ELA will be modified to suit the skills of all levels of ELA. If student goals were recorded throughout the adult learning journey, students could become fluent in effective goal setting and improve their academic achievement. The culture of assessment could also be changed for the better as evidence of learning could be emphasized over grades. Even more than motivate individual success, formal recognition of evidence of learning can provide data to inform school improvement, and potentially upgrade the public identity of Hastings Education Centre.

 

References

 B.C. Ministry of Education. BC Performance Standards, Writing. Retrieved August 17, 2013 from http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/perf_stands/writing_g10.pdf

B.C. Ministry of Education. English Language Arts, 8 – 12 (2007) Grade 10. Retrieved August 15, 2013 from: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/course.php?lang=en&subject=English_Language_Arts&course=English_Language_Arts_8_to_12&year=2007

Chappius, S., Commodore, C., and Stiggins, R.. Assessment Balance and Quality: An Action Guide for School Leaders, Third Edition. Pearson, 2009

Ornstein, Allan C., and Hunkins, Fances P.. Curriculum: Foundations, Principles, and Issues, 5/e, Peason Allyn & Bacon, 2009

Robertson, D. Vancouver School Board School Plan 2013-2014. Retrieved August 17, 2013 from: http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/school-files/999990102.pdf

 

 

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