In the adult education process, goal setting is an important aspect since it proves the effectiveness of the education process. When both the teachers and the adult learners set the goals, many benefits are realized. This is because the learners will feel more ownership and greater accountability towards achieving the set goals since they participated in the process. However, it is important to note that as much as teachers can assist learners set and achieve their goals; the whole process can be futile if benchmarks are not put in place to check the progress of the process. That is why it is essential to incorporate benchmarks in any goal-setting process.
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Furthermore, benchmarks need to be incorporated in almost all the stages in the goal-setting process, as this will make the learners measure their progress in attaining the set goals. This paper addresses the topic of benchmarks and goal setting for the adult learner.
For adult education to be more efficient and productive, appropriate tools are to be used that measure or benchmark the success of the learning process. Practicing this is able to build a desire for continual learning and thereby make the students to be persistent in the learning process. Among the different strategies that can be used to assess and improve the adult education process, benchmarking has proved to be the best. Benchmarking, as the yardstick for evaluating the performance of the students, assists in ensuring that the adult learners are motivated to learn. As they set performance targets against which to measure their learning outcome, active participation is facilitated.
The yardstick provides the students with the capability of assessing their own skills and development (Norman, 2000; Drago-Severson, 2009). Therefore, benchmarking is able to give a systematic approach to performance improvement, establish the extent of the improvement needed, bring an external focus to the internal educational activities, identify new ideas as well as innovative approaches, and demystify, motivate and provide a basis for carrying out future changes. Benchmarking is able to highlight difficult areas and potential areas for improvement. According to Cohen (2003), it provides an incentive to change and aids in establishing plans and strategies that are necessary for realizing the target goals.
Besides the benefits of benchmarking, it has some drawbacks that should be avoided. For example, too much effort can be invested in non-beneficial practices and undue attention can go to performance indicators. Concerning this, Meek et al. note that “one must be careful that the development and implementation of performance measures for the purpose of benchmarking in higher education do not undermine the very responsiveness and quality that they may be intended to enhance” (cited in Stella & Woodhouse, 2007, p.16). Therefore, the mechanistic application of performance indicators should be avoided at all costs.
After successfully setting the benchmarks, adult learners are now in a position to set some goals, which provide them with the structure for enhancing their own attitudes, skills, and knowledge. Consequently, adult learners are able to stay motivated throughout the education process. Goal setting assists the learners to think critically about the different concepts they learn; hence, they are able to become lifelong learners, as they will be continually applying the concepts (Dynan, Kate, & Rhee, 2008). Even though it is obvious that the aim of adult education is to encourage lifelong learning, this is usually simply a means to an end, not the end itself. Through establishing substantial goals and accomplishing them, adult learners are able to recognize the fact that learning can be a lifelong process, which can guarantee them success in the future.
After setting the goals, the adult learners together with their educators are able to differentiate between the essential and the less important information. Set goals give the learners a clear direction regarding where to focus their time and energy. Goal setting is a future-oriented process since it gives learners the motivation to work for a better future for themselves. This is achieved when they visualize a better future for themselves and work hard to realize it since the goals give them something to strive for.
Adult teachers can assist their students in ensuring that they have a better future to anticipate. On most occasions, the students struggle to develop the goals, which turn out to be vague eventually. Adult teachers can play a pivotal role in helping their students in this area. With this assistance, adult learners can be able to develop goals that are less vague, realistic and achievable in the long run.
In conclusion, benchmarking and goal setting are central to a good adult educational process. By specifying what they want to accomplish, the adult learners are endowed with a structure that is able to increase their potential throughout their life, take a more active role in the learning process, and develop a continuous interest in the world around them. Subsequently, these flexible skills will make them become lifelong learners.
Cohen, N. H. (2003). The journey of the principles of adult mentoring inventory. Adult Learning, 14(1), 4-12. Web.
Dynan, L., Cate, T., & Rhee, K. (2008). The impact of learning structure on students’ readiness for self-directed learning. Journal of Education for Business, 84(2), 96-100. Web.
Drago-Severson, E. (2009). Leading adult learning: supporting adult development in our schools. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin. Web.
Norman, J. (2000). Benchmarking for higher education. Philadelphia, Pa: Open Univ. Press. Web.
Stella A. & Woodhouse, D. (2007). Benchmarking in Australian Higher Education: A Thematic Analysis of AUQA Audit Reports. Australian Universities Quality Agency. Web.