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The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 533–551 | Cite as

Personal Best (PB) goal-setting enhances arithmetical problem-solving

  • Paul Ginns
  • Andrew J. Martin
  • Tracy L. Durksen
  • Emma C. Burns
  • Alun Pope
Article

Abstract

Personal Best (PB) goals are defined as specific, challenging, and competitively self-referenced goals involving a level of performance or effort that meets or exceeds an individual’s previous best. Much of the available research underpinning arguments for PB goal-setting is self-report-based; thus, the causal effect of PB goals on learning outcomes remains in question. The present experiment examined the impact of PB goal-setting (against a no-goal condition) on 68 Year 5 and 6 schoolchildren’s problem-solving during an arithmetic fluency-building activity, SuperSpeed Math. Equivalence of the two conditions was established across a range of prior ability and self-report motivational variables, including prior mathematical ability; Personal Best, Mastery, and Performance goal orientations at the individual and classroom level; mathematics self-concept; and valuing of and interest in mathematics. Controlling for initial problem-solving performance, students who set PB goals in subsequent rounds showed a small but reliable advantage over students in the control condition. These results suggest PB goals may provide a way for students to experience both challenge and success in a range of classroom activities. Suggestions for future research based on these initial findings are made.

Keywords

Goal setting Personal Best (PB) goals Mathematics Problem-solving 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The present study was supported by Discovery Research Project Grant DP140104294.

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Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education and Social WorkThe University of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  3. 3.Eastern Health Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health SciencesMonash UniversityBox HillAustralia

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