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The role of goal specificity in the goal-setting process

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between goal specificity and task performance, with specificity operationalized as a continuous quantitative variable reflecting the range of performance levels individuals chose as their personal goals. It was hypothesized that, controlling for goal difficulty, specific personal goals would be associated with higher levels of task performance. It was also hypothesized that task strategy would mediate the relationship between goal specificity and performance and that specific goals would be associated with smaller goal-performance discrepancies. The results from a sample of 162 college students working on an eye-hand coordination task supported the hypothesis concerning goal-performance discrepancies. They hypotheses regarding task strategy and the relationship between goal specificity and performance were supported only on the second of two trials.
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... Two dimensions of the content attribute in the goal-setting view, specificity, and difficulty explain that goal-setting distinguishes individual performance achievement from one another. Specificity refers to the level of clarity of goals that appear quantitatively or provide a clear definition of the goals that must be achieved (Klein et al., 1990 andSwezey et al., 1994. Meanwhile, the difficulty dimension explains the difficulty level of objectives that must be completed by individuals. ...
... Locke et al. (1989), Latham et al. (2004), Arsanti (2009) found that goal specificity and goal difficulty did not affect performance achievement. In contrast, Latham and Yulk (1975), Klein and Daniel (1990), Wallace and Etkin (2017), Cheng et al. 2017 found that goal specificity and goal difficulty affect performance achievement. The second attribute of goal setting theory, intensity, can be used to explain inconclusive research results. ...
... Locke and Latham (1990) stated that challenging goals would be a challenge for individuals to achieve them when they are clearly defined. Klein and Daniel (1990), Arsanti (2009), Murniati et al. (2016), Wallace and Etkin (2017), and Justin et al. 2017 found that the level of difficulty and clarity of goals affect individual performance. Individuals who have clear goals with a high level of difficulty will encourage individuals to plan, identify what is needed and determine strategies to achieve these goals. ...
Article
This study uses goal-setting theory and reinforcement theory to explain the formation of individual motivation in achieving goals. Testing the effect of goal specificity used the experimental method to test the impact of goal specificity, different goal difficulty on the same quota incentive system as the 2x2x1 experimental design. This study's findings confirm the goal-setting theory shown from the higher achievement of participants' goals when participants are given specific and challenging goals than participant goals in different variations of goal specificity and goal difficulty. This study found that participants have a greater focus on goal specificity in driving goal attainment behavior. The findings of this study confirm the reinforcement theory shown from achieving goals that exceed targets. Positive consequences become arguments for individuals to do the same action
... Although our goal was very ambitious, we proved that proper training, great determination and active involvement of staff is effective in achieving a substantial or near-perfect match in most categories. In fact, in a team environment, having a clear, specific, and accepted goal directs the action of the various team members and motivates the strategy development to reach it [42,43]. Future research will be needed to confirm the practical usefulness of our proposed training interventions or whether implementation strategies will be needed, should new barriers arise. ...
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Delineating patients’ health profiles is essential to allow for a proper comparison between medical care and its results in patients with comorbidities. The aim of this work was to evaluate the concordance of health profiles outlined by ward doctors and by epidemiologists and the effectiveness of training interventions in improving the concordance. Between 2018 and 2021, we analyzed the concordance between the health profiles outlined by ward doctors in a private hospital and those outlined by epidemiologists on the same patients’ medical records. The checks were repeated after training interventions. The agreement test (Cohen’s kappa) was used for comparisons through STATA. The initial concordance was poor for most categories. After our project, the concordance improved for all categories of CIRS. Subsequently, we noted a decline in concordance between ward doctors and epidemiologists for CIRS, so a new training intervention was needed to improve the CIRS profile again. Initially, we found a low concordance, which increased significantly after the training interventions, proving its effectiveness.
... Nevertheless, multiple factors should be taken into consideration to guarantee the success of goal setting. Firstly, goals should be specific because specific goals improve task performance (Chang 2012;Klein, Whitener, and Ilgen 1990), self-efficacy (Chang 2012;Schunk 1990), and goal commitment (Mikami, 2020;Seo et al. 2018). Chang (2012) revealed that students assigned specific goals significantly outperformed students assigned vague goals on a vocabulary test. ...
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The purpose of the current study is to explore the potential impact of a goal-based writing program on EFL students’ writing competence and their attitudes toward goal-setting activities. The goal-based writing program was developed within goal-setting theory and launched in a writing class of 39 EFL Vietnamese university students over ten weeks. To evaluate the success of the program, students’ writing scores were collected and subjected to a statistical analysis, and their perspectives toward goal setting were examined through semi-structured interviews. Strong evidence was found in support of the custom goal-based writing program. In terms of students’ writing achievement, significant improvement was seen in all four writing areas, namely, task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, and grammatical range and accuracy, with coherence and cohesion demonstrating the most significant development. Regarding students’ perspectives, the current goal-based writing program was found to improve their learning motivation and autonomy while creating a more supportive learning environment. However, the interview data indicate that students became less committed to goal setting at the end of the program. Valuable pedagogical implications and useful guidelines on the implementation of the goal-based writing program in the EFL context are highlighted in the current study.
... According to goal setting theory, specific goals increase performance (Locke & Latham, 1990, 2013 as the expected outcome is clarified and attention is focused on achieving this outcome (Klein, Whitener & Ilgen, 1990). Although several meta-analyses provide support for this effect (Chidester & Grigsby, 1984;Kleingeld, van Mierlo & Arends, 2011;Mento, Steel & Karren, 1987;Tubbs, 1986;Wood, Mento & Locke, 1987), the relationship of specificity and mental strain is still relatively unknown. ...
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Journal Psychologie des Alltagshandelns / Psychology of Everyday Activity, Vol. 13 / No. 2, ISSN 1998-9970. Abstract: Management by objectives is widely used and very popular in company practice. However, if performance goals are used as a tool of control from above, negative effects can be a consequence. A cross-sectional field study was conducted to test the hypotheses. The sample consisted of 275 employees of a bank and a public service provider. We measured control the job provides by expert-ratings. The perception of control, vital exhaustion as well as the goal source (imposed versus participatively set) were measured with self-reports. Factorial variance analyses were used to identify main effects and interactions. In jobs that offer a high level of objective control and that have imposed performance goals, employees report a vital exhaustion sum score of m = 18.88, which is twice as high as in jobs that offer a high level of objective control but have participatively set performance goals (m = 9.34). We conclude that participation at setting performance goals can help to adapt the performance goal to individual performance requisites of employees. Through participation at goal setting performance goals do not limit control and avoid vital exhaustion.
... By having smaller, more specific goals, it is easier to identify and focus on what needs to be done next. Studies have also shown a direct correlation between goal specificity and level of performance, further showing the effectiveness of this approach [33]. This can be included in numerous ways, as discussed in the following subsections. ...
Conference Paper
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In this evidence-based practice paper, we present our experiences with different scaffolding techniques to improve student engagement in active learning classes. Scaffolding of course content enables learners to achieve the expected course learning outcomes smoothly from lower to higher challenge levels. Also, in active learning classes with an emphasis on group activities, the activities can be scaffolded in different ways to promote a higher level of engagement and provide more diversity in students' learning process. Since students in large activity-based active learning classes (ABAL) complete the assigned activities at different times and in different places, the collaborative work may not become as effective anymore. This phenomenon of falling behind in collaborative learning and team-based activities are observable through late and missing submissions, in which, both are consequential to student performance. In this paper, we present our Introductory Computer Science (CS1) course model, particularly highlighting the process of group work and collaborative learning. Next, we introduce a novel multidimensional scaffolding methodology focused on the following dimensions: (1) chunking by difficulty, (2) chunking by time, (3) chunking by focus, and (4) chunking by collaboration. This approach focuses on refining instructor-to-student mediums through diversifying activities, balancing the challenge levels, including pre-class and post-class assignments, and chunking instruction time. Our approach rethinks scaffolding by incorporating the teaching strategy of think-pair-share as a scaffolding technique to guide learners through student-to-student learning mediums as well. To assess the effectiveness of our approach, we report on various student engagement metrics, including on-time, late, and missing submissions. Our multi-semester findings indicate a significant increase in student on-time submissions and a substantial decrease in overall missing submissions.
... Hard or challenging goals imply a need to overcome obstacles, experiencing varying levels of frustration, and investing effort and persistence. Goal specificity and difficulty have independent effects on performance, and thus both are necessary for increasing performance (Klein, Whitener, & Ilgen, 1990). ...
Article
A Bayesian longitudinal moderated mediational model was used to test the effect of students' daily/proximal self-set goals on a final course grade through daily study performance. Thirty-six daily diaries were completed twice a day by 147 sophomore students. Study goals were self-set in the morning and daily performance was self-assessed in the evening. Two independent coders, blind to the hypotheses, evaluated goal specificity and difficulty. The relationship between the goals and final grade was mediated by daily performance, and occurred only in the case of goals high in specificity and of moderate difficulty
... Having specific, clear and accepted goals affects individual performance by 'directing attention, mobilizing effort, increasing persistence and motivating strategy development' (Locke, Shaw, Saari, & Latham, 1981). However, in a team setting, clear goals can direct the team members' attention and action (Klein, Whitener, & Ilgen, 1990). ...
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To improve patient outcomes, healthcare practices undergo constant implementation of innovations. An implementation intervention that considers organizational and behavioural aspects is facilitation. Change Facilitators help individuals and groups realize what they need to change and how to make change happen. However, behavioural change trials require more sufficient details to improve delivery, fidelity and evaluation. The aim of this paper was to identify facilitation strategies used during the implementation of innovations in health care, determine those most frequently used and their relation to study outcomes. For this systematic review, randomized controlled trials reporting an onsite facilitator to aid in innovation implementation in a healthcare setting were identified. The database search yielded 2,350 articles, from which 35 studies were included. From these, 51 facilitation strategies were identified. Nine of the strategies appeared in more than 50% of studies and those reporting positive results included: goal-setting, assessing progress and outcomes, and providing tools and resources. These findings provide facilitators with evidence-based strategies to deliver in practice and to ensure consistency in facilitation training. Future research should aim to provide further tools that recommend the most effective facilitation strategies and a model to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and evaluation of the change facilitation process. MAD statement This article sets out to make a difference for those implementing innovations in the healthcare industry, by arming change facilitators with practical, evidence-based strategies to facilitate change more effectively. Furthermore, this article highlights the need for specific tools and models that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the change facilitation process and its evaluation. Abbreviations: PROSPERO: Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews; PARiHS: Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services Framework; EPOC: Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group
... Goal setting aids the identification of components that underpin success in a given skill. Knowing the progress in each of these components and the relative priority for their improvement is crucial to allow forward progress of the skill in question, as per the 'SMART' goal-setting process [4]. In addition to an objective measure of performance, goalsetting increases self-awareness of the priorities needed for success [5]. ...
... What is highly accepted is that specific, difficult goals will lead to a better performance than specific, easy goals, but it is still not determined if specific, difficult goals will boost performance of an individual to a greater extent than it is the case with vague goals of the same difficulty (Klein, Whitener & Ilgen 1990). The more specific goals become, the more focus in attention and action is necessary (Beehr & Love 1983). ...
... What is highly accepted is that specific, difficult goals will lead to a better performance than specific, easy goals, but it is still not determined if specific, difficult goals will boost performance of an individual to a greater extent than it is the case with vague goals of the same difficulty (Klein, Whitener & Ilgen 1990). The more specific goals become, the more focus in attention and action is necessary (Beehr & Love 1983). ...
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The goal setting theory came into existence almost three decades ago (Locke & Latham 1990). However, goal setting in Serbian EFL students has not been investigated so far. The aim of this paper is to characterize the act of goal setting of Serbian learners and provide a comparison with the results of other EFL learners. The analysis of the questionnaire based on one presented in Gaumer Erickson, Soukup, Noonan & McGurn (2015), which was completed by 100 students, suggests that B1 students possess better values of the goal setting components than B2 students. Correlations between the components provide a large number of statistically significant results. What the goal setting theory implies is that students who are more successful in goal setting will achieve better results. Nevertheless, such an idea is not confirmed by our results since success in learning does not correlate with any of the goals setting components.
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A model that integrates several different motivational theories and previous control theory models is presented as a possible metatheory to focus future theoretical and empirical efforts. The proposed model is dynamic, parsimonious, and focuses on self-regulation and the underlying cognitive mechanisms of motivation. In explicating this model, numerous hypotheses are derived regarding (a) the nature of goals and feedback; (b) cognitive, behavioral, and affective reactions to goals and feedback; and (c) the role of attributions, expectancies, and goal hierarchies in determining those reactions.
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: A review of both laboratory and field studies on the effect of setting goals when learning or performing a task found that specific, challenging goals led more often to higher performance than easy goals, 'do your best' goals or no goals. This is one of the most robust and replicable findings in the psychological literature, with 90% of the studies showing positive or partially positive results. The main mechanisms by which goals affect performance are by directing attention, mobilizing effort, increasing persistence, and motivating strategy development. Goal setting is most likely to improve task performance when the goals are specific and sufficiently challenging, when the subjects have sufficient ability (and ability differences are controlled), when feedback is provided to show progress in relation to the goal, when rewards such as money are given for goal attainment, when the exerimenter manager is supportive, and when the assigned goals are actually accepted by the individual. No reliable individual differences have emerged in goal setting studies, probably because goals were typically assigned rather than self-set. Need for achievement and self esteem may be the most promising individual difference variables. (Author)
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Results from a review of laboratory and field studies on the effects of goal setting on performance show that in 90% of the studies, specific and challenging goals led to higher performance than easy goals, "do your best" goals, or no goals. Goals affect performance by directing attention, mobilizing effort, increasing persistence, and motivating strategy development. Goal setting is most likely to improve task performance when the goals are specific and sufficiently challenging, Ss have sufficient ability (and ability differences are controlled), feedback is provided to show progress in relation to the goal, rewards such as money are given for goal attainment, the experimenter or manager is supportive, and assigned goals are accepted by the individual. No reliable individual differences have emerged in goal-setting studies, probably because the goals were typically assigned rather than self-set. Need for achievement and self-esteem may be the most promising individual difference variables. (3½ p ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The purpose of this article is to examine the role of goal commitment in goal-setting research. Despite Locke's (1968) specification that commitment to goals is a necessary condition for the effectiveness of goal setting, a majority of studies in this area have ignored goal commitment. In addition, results of studies that have examined the effects of goal commitment were typically inconsistent with conceptualization of commitment as a moderator. Building on past research, we have developed a model of the goal commitment process and then used it to reinterpret past goal-setting research. We show that the widely varying sizes of the effect of goal difficulty, conditional effects of goal difficulty, and inconsistent results with variables such as participation can largely be traced to main and interactive effects of the variables specified by the model.
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Recent literature reviews have attempted to link goal-setting processes with other traditional human relations topics, possibly in a search for explanations of the inconsistent results among some empirical studies. The present reformulation builds upon the models developed in these literature reviews by offering more specific propositions regarding the variables in these models and by integrating these variables with three other organizational themes: participative management, job design and role theory. The model offered here is a meta-model because it is an integration of variables and concepts from several other models. Eleven propositions regarding the direct effects of goal characteristics, feedback, and role characteristics and eleven corollaries regarding the moderating effects of personal and job characteristics are presented.
This paper summarizes and integrates research concerned with a long-neglected topic in psychology: the relationship between conscious goals and intentions and task performance. The basic promise of this research is that an individual's conscious ideas regulate his actions. Studies are cited demonstrating that: (1) hard goals produce a higher level of performance (output) than easy goals; (2) specific hard goals produce a higher level of output than a goal of “do your best”; and (3) behavioral intentions regulate choice behavior. The theory also views goals and intentions as mediators of the effects of incentives on task performance. Evidence is presented supporting the view that monetary incentives, time limits, and knowledge of results do not affect performance level independently of the individual's goals and intentions. A theoretical analysis supports the same view with respect to three other incentives: participation, competition, and praise and reproof. Finally, behavioral intentions were found to mediate the effects of money and “verbal reinforcement” on choice behavior. It is concluded that any adequate theory of task motivation must take account of the individual's conscious goals and intentions. The applied implications of the theory are discussed.
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Uses the recent theoretical explanation for behavior in organizations proposed by J. C. Naylor et al (1980) as a conceptual framework for understanding the effects of goal setting. The theory presents the motivational process as a sequence consisting of 3 cognitive processing stages, each of which involves the conversion of a prior utility function as a result of an individual's perception or belief about 1 of 3 different contingency relationships. These 3 perceived contingency functions are contingencies between acts and products, products and evaluations, and evaluations and outcomes. All the major elements of the motivation sequence are future oriented, and the separate stages of cognitive processing in the sequence are best described as predictive evaluative judgment processes. It is argued that the goal-setting intervention has its major influence on motivation (and thus behavior) by affecting a task performer's perceptions of the shape of the product-to-evaluation contingency function. This results in changes in the motivational force to commit resources to acts. Also examined and redefined within the theory are the traditional goal-setting terms of goal difficulty, specificity, and acceptability. Numerous analytical arguments are suggested as ways of viewing how these traditional goal-setting constructs may be operating in a goal-setting situation. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)