SMART goals: Designing your own professional goals



SMART goals are an essential part of the work of a speech and language pathologist.

Here is a reference that has many resources for SMART goals.

SMART goals

We need to make SMART goals not only for our students but also for ourselves.

S: SPECIFIC:  What do we wish to accomplish?

M:MEASURABLE:  How will I know that I have accomplish it?

A:ATTAINABLE: Is this goal attainable?  Do I need to break this goal down into smaller parts?  Do I need to adjust my timeline?

R: RELEVANT: Does this goal mean anything?  Is this a skill I should be working on?

T:TIME BOUND: When will this goal be accomplished?

For graduate students when you are making your goals the time is already done for you. BY THE END OF THE SEMESTER.


I will give you some examples of what you have written and transfer it to a SMART goal

OLD WAY: GRAD STUDENT will demonstrate competence in teaching reading comprehension in 8 out of 10 opportunities.

The questions I would have about this is: Can I measure this?  Does it mean 2 sessions you won’t teach the student correctly? How will I know you have done it? What do you mean by competence?

NEW WAY:  By the end of the semester GRAD STUDENT will increase her knowledge of the teaching of reading comprehension skills as evidenced by her ability to demonstrate three different  research based reading comprehension strategies .

The new way has the time: By the end of the semester

Large goal: Understanding of Reading Comprehension Skills

Small goal: 3 different research based comprehension strategies

How do I know she can do it: demonstration of the strategies


Here is another:

Old Way: GRAD STUDENT will demonstrate competence in the treatment setting with a misbehaved client as evidenced by handling the situation calmly and independently in 9/10 situations.

Difficulties with this one is what does she do that one time. Does she go hysterical??????.Does she need reinforcement????? What happens with the misbehaved client?  What is a misbehaved client?  What if her clients behaves?

What it would appear is that the student wants to insure that she understands behavior management so we need to state this in a postive way.

NEW WAY: By the end of the semester GRAD STUDENT will increase her understanding of behavior management as measured by her ability to structure her sessions so that they are conducive to student performing tasks requested ( student performs all tasks requested 8/10 times), to structure the treatment room so that it is not distracting yet inviting to the student ( student works only with materials designated for treatment 8/10 times).and to employ behavior modification strategies that support student learning ( GRAD employs at least 1 positive behavior support).

This clearly gives an action plan for the GRAD STUDENT: organize activities so that student is focused, organize treatment room and have materials that the student would be interested in yet conducive to reach the goal designated, the GRAD STUDENT will think about her own behavior management system ( Should I use tokens,or stickers?  Should I have a tally chart?  Do I have an open and closing routine? etc.)

It is specific: I know what to look at

It is measurable and positive.

One thing to be careful of is that you don’t think that you need to say 8/10 times or 80% or over 3 consecutive sessions. You need to think about the goal and what makes sense. Sometimes a goal can be a product. Here is another goal from a student therapist who is really working hard!!!

Old way: By the end of the semester GRAD STUDENT will increase her ability to collect data accurately and precisely as measured by her ability to structure data collection forms so that they are concise and well structured (8/10 times), to maintain focus on the client while simultaneously collecting data in 8/10 situations, and to employ strategies to effectively collect accurate data (GRAD STUDENT employs at least one strategy to review the sessions for data accuracy).

Here is the redesign:

New Way: By the end of the semester GRAD STUDENT  will increase her ability to collect data accurately and precisely as measured by her ability to structure data collection forms so that they are concise, accurate and well structured in a way that allows her to maintain focus on the client while simultaneously collecting data.

You have the time, large idea ( data collection), small action plan or goal ( creating data forms that you can use).  It is fine for the student to go through a redesign of the data sheets or even how she takes data it will be the process of learning to take data AND do therapy that she wants to get better at and she will have weekly review of how well she is doing every time she writes her SOAP notes. Does she have the data?   Did she take the data and ‘lose’ the student?

Old Goal: By the end of the semester, Student will demonstrate increased receptive language instruction skills by having clients achieve receptive language goals with 80% accuracy across three sessions.  

Problem: The new Rhode Island Teacher Assessment has you developing what they refer to as Student Learning Objectives . Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) are long-term, measurable academic goals that educators set for their students. They should focus on priority content, be measured by appropriate sources of evidence, and include specific targets for student mastery or progress. They are used as a measure of student learning by all educators participating in the Educator Evaluation System. The above goal is really talking about an SLO and as such would not be approved because it needs more complicated.  To read more about this refer to this:

This is a complicated process that I am not asking you as graduate students to do. I want you to do a self assessment ( the checklist) to determine what area you would like to increase your skills ( refer to your student’s needs this semester) then look at the two of them to determine what area you want to increase your skills in.

New way: By the end of the semester I will increase my understanding of the application of receptive language treatment techniques as evidenced by my ability to present to my treatment group a treatment approach and it’s research based theory.

Old way: By the end of the semester, I will increase my ability to write client goals as evidenced by receiving approval by my supervisor with 90% accuracy.

In this one there are two difficulties. One is that it is depended on the supervisor and the 2nd is that the accuracy is 90%.  The is a need for 100% accuracy for client goals.

New way: By the end of the semester I will increase my clinical writing skills as evidenced by my ability to write 3 SMART goals.

Try some on your own. Thanks to the students that were prompt in filling out their paperwork and gave this a shot. I appreciate it.





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