The effects of goal-setting in a secondary physical education program


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a goal-setting intervention on students' fitness and achievement goals within physical education settings. Method: This study involved thirty-two (N=32) male and female participants in 9th-11th grade from a charter high school focused on the arts, science and engineering. Charter schools are independent public schools with focus on choice and control over their curriculum. Participants were taught about SMART-C principles and set short term SMART-C goals for 3 areas of the FITNESSGRAM including PACER, Push Ups, and Curl Ups during the course of a semester. The effects of goal-setting were determined through the use of questionnaires, focus group interviews, and fitness testing. Focus group interviews addressed students' past goal-setting experiences and perceptions of the intervention. Results: Thirty-three percent of participants met their goals, while 75% exceeded their initial score on the FITNESSGRAM. The two most common types of goals set by participants were Mastery Approach and Performance Avoidance indicating a mix of task and ego goal orientations. Results from the qualitative and quantitative data indicated that although high school students believed goal-setting was useful, they had difficulty setting and adhering to their goals. Discussion/Conclusions: This study adds to a small body of research supporting the use of goal-setting interventions for fitness among adolescents in charter school physical education programs. Further study is warranted in examining how best to maximize student engagement in goal-setting.