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Social-Emotional Learning

Introducing Students to Goal-Setting with WOOP

Teachers and counselors regularly help students set goals as an important way to make progress as a learner and to develop skills around working toward long-term objectives. Dr. Gabriele Oettingen, professor of psychology at NYU, and Character Lab have studied how when the WOOP goal-setting method is used with fidelity, it can improve students' effort and outcomes. In a recent webinar, Character Lab and Panorama teamed up to present how school leaders and teachers can introduce students to WOOP.

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WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan) uses mental contrasting, asking participants to contrast a wish with an inner obstacle and then to create an if-then plan. This is important because research shows that positive thinking alone doesn't help adults or students meet their goals. In practical terms, this means that students identify a wish and outcome that is meaningful to them, an obstacle inside of them that could prevent them from achieving their wish and a plan.

Wish - A meaningful, challenging, and feasible wish or goal

Outcome - The best result or feeling from accomplishing your wish

Obstacle - Something inside of you that prevents you from accomplishing your wish

Plan - If [obstacle], then I will [effective action]

During the webinar, Dr. Oettingen shared results of a study that introduced WOOP to 10th grade students preparing for the PSAT. The study found that students that had been introduced to WOOP completed more practice questions working independently with workbooks than the control group, which had done an unrelated writing exercise. There is data that WOOP is effective with students as young as 2nd grade.

After presenting the research on WOOP, Dr. Jenn Charlot, from Character Lab, and Kevin Stein, from the Panorama team, discussed how WOOP is making its way into schools and classrooms. Dr. Charlot advised that schools have introduced, practiced, and integrated WOOP in one-on-one sessions with students, during advisory, as a whole class activity, and through whole school assemblies. Showing a video of two adults in school doing WOOP is one nice way to model how WOOP works.

"One of the big challenges that always comes up is: where do I find the time? You can find the time by integrating WOOP into things that you're already doing. Many schools that have worked with us replaced their current goal-setting strategy with WOOP, because they find the process to be a stronger experience."

—Jenn Charlo 

One way WOOP is finding its way into schools in through Panorama's Playbook. As Kevin Stein shared during the webinar, Playbook is a teacher community where teachers find strategies they can bring into their classrooms. Often, teachers come to Playbook after receiving feedback from their students and are interested in developing and strengthening their classroom practice. A video and information on bringing WOOP into the classroom are featured in Playbook. And much more information on WOOP is available on the WOOP website and from Character Lab.

Learn more about partnering with Panorama to measure and implement SEL systemically in your district.

Topic(s): Social-Emotional Learning

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