Achievement is often talked about in the classroom, but often only in terms of recognising who gets the highest marks. Success and achievement can look like many different things for different students. Setting clear objectives, and helping students to develop and persevere, will help them to focus better on their own progress and develop a stronger sense of wellbeing.
Achievement, in positive psychology, is about more than getting top marks in the class. When students can see their own progress in learning and mastering a subject or skill, they will feel a sense of achievement. For this to happen, a redefinition of success and achievement is needed in order to move the emphasis away from academic achievement. In this new definition, achievement requires:
Studies have shown that feeling a sense of accomplishment is an important element in students developing positive wellbeing over time. Research also shows the following:
1. Set personal goals
The best way to develop a sense of purpose and accomplishment is to develop clear, tangible goals. It’s important to remember that goals for each student will be different and not all goals will focus on marks. For some students, submitting assignments on time or turning up to every class might be important markers of progress and their achievement of a goal. Teach your students about setting goals.
2. Celebrate achievements meaningfully
There are lots of ways to celebrate achievements. Examples include visual clues in the classroom (e.g. pictures from excursions, favourite activities), reflecting on students’ different personal achievements (e.g. academic, part-time job, extracurricular activities) and wins, and discussing as a class what students are proud of. Individually, never underestimate the value of telling a student directly that you’ve noticed their achievement. Showing them that you have recognised their efforts will help them feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what they are doing.