I am a goal setting, type A personality, through and through. But when I found out that I had to create learning goals for my PhD, it felt like a heavy weight on my shoulders. I barely knew what a PhD entailed, so how could I begin to make goals to achieve it? Breaking down the goals into categories helped me create the learning goals from scratch. And more importantly, when a new opportunity presents itself, I can revisit these goals and helps me stick to what I am really trying to achieve, without veering off course.
A colleague and good friend of mine, Katherine Occhiuto, who is also a PhD student, now in her second year created these categories and generously lent them to our PhD social work cohort. I reached out to her and asked for permission to share these with you all too!
It’s currently my reading week and if anyone else is in their reading week, it is perfect timing to set aside a couple hours to reflect on your future learning goals as a grad student.
Where to begin?
Creating these goals for your Masters or PhD program is really for your own learning – it’s a personal activity. This process includes thinking of goals for your own learning, your identity as a scholar and educator, as well as other professional and personal goals. Think of it as a professional dream board (which may give you a bit more inspiration to get started). However, this dream board has a couple more steps to it. Under each goal, there should be some type of process or strategy to actually meet the goals you are trying to achieve. This includes activities and timelines in order to properly assess and evaluate the goals in the future.
The categories for your learning goals should express all aspects of your life as a scholar. These include:
- Doctoral/academic goals: these range from your courses, learning theories, identity as a scholar, your research ideas, conference work, publications and other research projects you are involved in.
- Teaching goals: can include your teaching experience, identity as an educator and other projects that advance yourself as an educator.
- Practice goals: for those who are also in a degree that has a professional and practice association then you will want to include this section in your goals. These include employment positions, professional development, and volunteer positions.
- Self-care/personal goals: these are goals that are personal to you, I included my blog here for example and my relationships with family and friends. Most people skip these goals but these are the most important – especially for grad students!
Under each category, you will have a set of steps to achieve these goals, indicators to break these steps down even further, your progress to date and a timeline/deadline for when you hope to achieve the goal. Here is a template to help get you started:
Regularly draft & revise
Most importantly you will need to regularly revisit these goals. At the beginning of the semester, when an opportunity arises, and/or at the end of a semester are all good times to pull out this document. Revise them, add to them, change them, they are your goals so you are in charge.
I hope by creating these goals you will achieve clarity, a peace of mind and some motivation. Have you ever created learning goals before? I would love to hear how others approach their learning goals for grad school.
Until next time,
P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad #ScholarSunday to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.
P.P.S Applying to grad school for the 2018/19 school year? Check out this FREE eBook on 5 steps to a successful grad school application. Are you in grad school and struggling to find easy lunches to bring to campus? Check out three FREE recipes and full nutritional information here.