One of Tulsa Tech’s core values is “High Expectations.” We expect to have lofty goals and achievement markers for our students, but what about for your own work life and habits? Studies have shown that setting clear and actionable goals in both our work and personal lives increases the chance of growing or making meaningful changes. But what does that really mean?
According to an NPR story published a few years ago, the expectations of teachers can dramatically alter the performance of their students, based on a famous research study conducted by a Harvard professor, Robert Rosenthal.
In this study, a group of 18 elementary school teachers gave their students a special test developed by Rosenthal, which predicted which children were primed for a boost in IQ over the next few years.
The catch of course, was that it was not a special exam at all. The exam was just a general IQ test with a fancy sounding name, however the teachers didn’t know this. Once the results came back, Rosenthal picked a random group of students from each classroom, told the teachers that these students were “bloomers,” who were identified to blossom into brilliant students.
In reality, there was nothing different about these students from their peers.
A few months later, the students were given another IQ test. The results were astounding. Students who were labeled as “bloomers” (even though they were simply average students to begin with) scored significantly higher on IQ tests than their peers.
Researchers discovered that the improvement was due to the different way that the teachers treated the students that they expected to succeed. Compared to the other children in the class, the “bloomers” were given more feedback, allowed more time for answering questions, and generally received more smiles, nods, and gestures of approval from their teachers.
In other words, when a teacher treated a student as if they were destined to become smart (even if they were average to start with), the student became smart.
So how does that apply to our instructors and students?
To make the most impact, you want goals of any nature to be S.M.A.R.T., meaning they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
The trick is to set lofty but achievable goals, goals that are set so high that they are obviously unattainable cause people to give up when they believe the results don’t match expected outcomes. We all have dreams, and setting unrealistic expectations on yourself or others presents complications in the future and sets everyone up for disappointment and failure.
However, if it is at all possible, as it is wise to set lofty goals and expectations. Having a wide array of goals, ranging from ones that are achievable, likely and possible, is a great approach. The “achievable” goals would be ones that can be completed in the near future, “likely” being ones that could be accomplished in the near future depending on certain factors, and “possible” goals being a little more far-fetched but could eventually happen if you or your business reach a certain point.
At Tulsa Tech, we have an opportunity each day to give more feedback, allow for more questions, and provide more positive reinforcement to both our students and colleagues. Each one of us is here for the greater good, to impact the lives of students and clients in a positive way, and in our small way contribute to the growth of our region and the betterment of our fellow citizens. What we learn and see each day is that it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you started. If we believe in each other, we can expect great things from each other, and we all can become something better than we are today.