Using SMART Goals with Students: Types & Examples

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  • 0:00 Smart Goals
  • 0:34 Designing A Goal
  • 1:30 Making Smarter Goals Example
  • 2:36 Academic Smart Goals
  • 4:12 Character Smart Goals
  • 5:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Help your students improve academic achievement and develop strong character traits through the use of SMART goals. Setting goals provides students with focus and direction, but how we set goals matters.


SMART is an acronym used to help people make goals that are achievable. The letters stand for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-Focused
  • Time-Bound

SMART goals are often employed in the business world and for personal use; however, this lesson focuses on SMART goal setting to improve academic achievement and character development. Why are SMART goals so smart? Let's take a closer look at what it means to be a SMART goal setter.

Designing a Goal

There are five areas to focus on when setting SMART goals. When writing a SMART goal, follow the steps outlined here:

Specific: There's no point in writing a goal if you're not laser clear on what you want. Goals need to be specific, meaning well defined. Anyone who reads the goal should be able to understand exactly what it is you want.

Measurable: To prove you met your goal, you'll need to make sure it's measurable. This means you'll need some way to verify whether or not you are on track to achieve your goal.

Achievable : Why make a goal you can't reach? A goal should always be something that is realistically possible to do, otherwise you'll be too challenged and not want to work on it.

Results-Focused: The focus should be on a measurable outcome.

Time-Bound: Be specific. Goals should have a start and end time., not something that lingers.

Making SMARTer Goals Example

SMART goals help get results. Learning how to create SMART goals is an important step. However, here's an example of a pretty sad goal:

I will do better in math.

Make this goal SMARTer using these steps:

In the next quarter ending on May 14th, I will raise my grade from a C to a B on math quizzes and from a B to an A on homework.

What's different? The goal setter was specific about raising grades and by how much. This goal is measured through the use of grades and is certainly achievable if the focus is on improving quiz and homework study habits. The result is a B on quizzes and an A on homework. This goal is also time bound and ends with the end of the next quarter on May 14th. What would make this goal even better is a statement detailing plans to spend two extra hours each week preparing for quizzes and one extra hour each week getting homework done. Those factors might help to determine if the goal setter is maintaining the level of focus necessary to get the grades up, and they help measure and track progress along the way.

Academic SMART Goals

In education, goals are focused on academics - the grades students get and how well they do in school. When setting SMART goals with students, make sure they're timely. Educators will want to set goals at the beginning of the year and as a grading period happens. That way, students will have data to highlight their current level of performance and be clear about what they want to work on for the next marking period. SMART goals can be set to help students get good grades by aiming to improve work habits, like study skills.

A few more things to consider when writing academic SMART goals:

Make them unique to each student. Some children have trouble being introspective and are happy enough to do what their neighbor does. Set up meetings with each student, talk about past achievements and future objectives, and help guide them towards their very own SMART goal.

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