Goal Setting to Make Learning “Visible”

Proton Tutoring ServicesThis week, Proton teachers had the opportunity to participate in a professional development seminar on “visible learning”; the theory by John Hattie (2012) that students are more likely to be invested in their learning, if they perceive learning to be feasible, accessible and attainable.

It was a seminar that emphasised how simple teacher practices and routines can have a great impact on the students’ learning perception and process.

A simple strategy that we encourage all of our fellow teachers to implement is to set a clear, simple and achievable learning goal for the lesson or the session. The learning goal needs to be simple, so that it can easily be understood by students. A lesson, depending on its duration, should not have more than one or two learning goals.Success-Criteria

If you need help setting your learning goals, the following questions can help you:

  1. What is to be learnt during this session?
  2. Why is it important to learn This?
  3. How is the learning of This linked to bigger ideas/concepts studied?
  4. What are the success criteria? – the criteria that show that the goal has been achieved/ that This has been learnt?
  5. What will students say/make/write/do that proves they have learnt This?
  6. How are the learning activities/tasks/work relevant to the success criteria of the learning goal?

Every subject can have multiple learning goals that are focusing on a number of areas. For instance, some learning goals focus on knowledge, whereas some goals focus on skills and/or understanding.

For more assistance on how to set your learning goals, please visit: assessmentforlearning.edu.au

Once the learning goals have been set, it must be clearly communicated to the students.

This can be done by simply writing it on the board, so that the goal of the lesson is literally “visible” to the students. Although teachers are always pressed for time, it is definitely worth the one or two minute investment at the start of the lesson to explain to the class why this goal is important.

It is our responsibility as educators to provide a satisfactory response to the students’ question “Why are we doing This? Why are we learning This”?

We need ensure that they understand the learning goals and their importance.

If you are ever in doubt, there is no harm in checking the students’ understanding of the learning goals. Some questions you can pose in class to check that are:

  1. What are you learning?
  2. Why are you learning This?
  3. What activities/work are you doing to help you learn This?
  4. How will you know when you have learned This?


  • Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximising impact on learning. London: Routledge.

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