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One maturational development feature of the transition from childhood to adulthood is the emergence of the capacity to perform executive functions (McCloskey, 2009, 2012).
The executive functions are found in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The importance of the work of the executive function in the process of maturational development cannot be overstated.
Keys to success of an individual’s maturing capacity for self-regulation are within an individual’s ability to:
The simultaneous interaction of goal setting and self-regulation makes a process where the commitment to “do the work” occurs. Goal setting happens concurrently with self-regulation.
Without this commitment to invest their personal energy in the learning, practicing and internalizing of what is being learned, the participants’ adherence to the meaning of the learning (the choice to adhere to a health-promoting lifestyle after the training program is over) will be only perfunctory.
To flourish and enjoy success within today’s programs and schools, we must teach students the basic skills and attitudes associated with intentional goal setting and purposeful self-regulation. Both goal setting and purposeful self-regulation can help students to maximize their potential. Exposure and mastery of these elements of the goal-setting intervention help to ensure that the participants become fit in body, mind and heart.
Goal orientation and self-regulation are two key factors in the successful achievement of each individual’s healthy eating and physical activity goals. But, learning the content and having the knowledge is not enough. More importantly, the desire is for our youngsters to choose to live in more healthy ways. Without emotional coherence, also know as commitment, that comes from the integration of goal orientation and self-regulation, students stumble.
The positive integration can be observed in each individual’s choices and behaviors. These factors support the CDC’s Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model.
The Goals digital badges of CLOH.org give coaches and program leaders in schools an enriched repertoire for teaching specific skills related to self-regulation. These materials and our process comes with a scaffolding of the maturation process among the students, coaches, teachers and guardians.
By challenging students to set goals within a carefully tailored, individualized, self-care-oriented instructional program, students have the opportunity to develop the capacity to set goals, make plans and assume personal responsibility for their own behavior. (McClelland, 1985).
Kay Atman, Ph.D., the goals coach with CLOH.org, devoted much of her career’s work in the field of education on goal-setting, striving and volition topics. She developed, researched, validated and published a clinical evaluation tool that is central to the mission of the goals digital badges. Her Goal Orientation Index was first published in 1985 in Pittsburgh, PA, by Curriculum Innovators & Implementers, Inc. (See References.)
In this pathway of completing the activities of the Goals digital badges, participants learn about goal-setting and self-regulation skills.
Goals/Level 1: Set goals and assess what the participants have “going for them” as well as a potential hazards that may interfere with their progress toward success. They set goals, visualize, make a plan, make it happen and finish.
Goals/Level 3: Participants add systematic self-monitoring of progress toward their goal-pursuit regimen. For example, this might include length of practice, number of practices and increasing levels of difficulty with practice routines.
Goals/Level 4: Participants identify and assess areas of stress in goal-routine regimens and design corrective measures to alleviate problems. The purpose is to strengthen participants’ capacity for self-evaluation, self-monitoring and self-regulation.
Goals/Level 5: Participants take a self-assessment instrument, Plan and Reflect for Success. It helps improve one’s capacity for goal accomplishment. Advanced self-assessment skills and reflecting on elements of personal performance is a significant factor in the development of self-care agency, the willingness to take an active role in one’s personal well-being.
Goals/Level 6: Called Goals/Master, the last digital badge in the series, reinforces intentional agency and the mentor’s model. Participants are trained in mentoring skills and are then able to facilitate the development of goal-orientation and self-regulation skills for an aspiring goal-setter. Mentoring skills include an understanding of the processes of striving and volition in the motivational make-up of an individual. The understanding includes the concept of Intentional Agency, a key factor in an individual’s commitment to long-term goal accomplishment. (See The Mentor’s Model: Atman, 1992.)
At all levels, participants are encouraged to make regular reports to the members of their support teams. They keep track of their progress toward goals with provided charts and in an optional web and/or mobile app. Students are mentored throughout the process by coaches involved in this project who have been trained in the processes of goal orientation and self-regulation.
The process of teaching goal-orientation and self-regulation skills to the participants in this project parallels the set of personal skills found in the concept, Self-Care Agency. The Self-Care Agency is a well-known concept within the field of health-care.
Constructs from the Goal Orientation Index are used in this project as the model to frame the goal-related activities in the Goals digital badges. These steps have been used to predict significant attributes of Self-Care Agency. (Atman, 2015)
Numerous studies have been undertaken related to self-care agency. (Kearney and Fleischer, 1979; Hanson and Bickel, 1985; Riesch and Hauck, 1988; McBride, 1991; Cutler, 2003; Sousa, Hartman, Miller and Carroll, 2008; Baker and Denyes, 2008; Skidmore, et al., 2010; DeVito Dabbs and Song, 2013).
Evidence-based research supports this project: Goal Orientation and Self-Care Agency, in the journal, Progress in Transplantation, Volume 25, No. 3, pp. 230-242. Kay Atman et al. attempted to predict a patient’s surgical outcomes from their ability to follow-through, or compliance, with post-operative instructions. Data obtained from this study indicated that several characteristics were significant predictors of success. It documented the importance of goal orientation as a predictor of Self-Care Agency.
The Goals digital badges provides an intervention concerning health, wellness and academic success. Activities tie together inter-generational aquatics activities with a sustained, focused and supportive devotion to personal behaviors, executive functions, goal setting and self-regulation skills.
This intervention helps chart a course for youngsters that blends the fun of aquatics with honest introspection. The sequence of the makes each individual accomplishment more positive and empowering. It can also be used to enhance team performance as its members strive toward common team goals and encourage each other to perform at higher levels.
There are few boundaries for re-use of the Goals digital badges.
Professionals within the teams, schools, school districts and health departments can monitor progress. Digital badge bestowing records, app downloads, and summary reports can ascertain both the reach and the levels of success for this intervention.
Pittsburgh’s aquatic programming provides a feel-good story worthy of sharing to personnel at other school districts. Professional development sessions for teachers, coaches and school administrators can share the GOI.
Spreading fitness, water polo, SKWIM, and digital badges throughout the nation are missions of this endeavor.
We expect that the real catalyst for commitment to healthy eating and long-term physical activity lies in the pride that participants take in their own performance that is accompanied by an increase in over-all capacity with excellent goal accomplishment. Self regulation is a key ingredient. With the commitment to do the work required, on a continual basis, excellence is within reach. The goal-setting process enables a practical type of reflection on their process of being and becoming.
More can be accomplished with physical activities when one battles in those struggles to obtain experiences based upon energy management with others. Teamwork is something to strive to obtain. Successful journeys include goal setting fun and working together. When students, teachers, coaches and adults work on a goal-setting process together, particularly in the areas of healthy eating and physical activity, Jedi-like advancements can occur.