Learners work with effort and energy to accomplish goals that connect to a meaningful purpose, and they are aware of their progress toward achieving these goals at all times.

Purposefulness brings a number of interrelated concepts together into a single Principle that captures the importance of learners working with effort and energy toward clear, meaningful, and appropriate goals and being aware, at all times, of their progress toward achieving these goals. Unlike some of the other Principles in the Look Fors Framework, such as Collaboration or Rigor, Purposefulness is not extensively researched as a single construct or concept but instead appears in research as a number of independent but interrelated concepts, including goals and goal setting (Locke, 1968), feedback (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996; Hattie & Timperlay, 2007), metacognitive strategies (Lavery, 2008), self-regulation and self- efficacy (Bandura, 1991), growth mindset (Dweck, 2000), flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2008), urgency (Kotter, 2008), and academic press (McDill, Natriello & Pallas, 1986). These concepts were synthesized into four sub-elements that together make up Purposefulness.

Purposefulness Look Fors


Learners work toward meaningful short- and long-term goals and can articulate why they are prioritizing these goals, how short-term goals (e.g., success on daily work) build toward long-term goals, and what success looks like at each stage.


Learners are aware of their current progress toward goals by way of self-assessment and frequent peer and educator feedback.


Learners engage and persevere at points of difficulty or error, avoid self-limiting statements, and dispute negative self-talk, instead utilizing growth mindset language and positive self-talk.


Learners use their time and energy strategically and employ self-regulation strategies (e.g., breaks, fidgets, movement, self-talk) as needed to maximize learning and progress toward goals.

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This guide was created by Lindsay Unified School District and The Learning Accelerator, building on the work produced through a previous partnership between Lindsay Unified School District, Summit Public Schools, and Transcend. Learn more about the partnership.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.