SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) guide conversations and actions for an organization. For more on how to use SMART goals in a strategic plan, see the resource on Structure of a Strategic Plan and the section on How to Create and Use a Strategic Plan.
In this framework, goals should be:
Specific: by providing a clear explanation of the actions to be taken, e.g., who, what, when, and how
Measurable: by including a quantitative or qualitative measure by which to evaluate progress
Attainable: by being realizable given available time, money, effort, and other resources
Relevant: by addressing critical departmental needs
Time-bound: by having a reasonable, commonly agreed-upon time period (e.g., three months, two years) in which to be achieved, or for progress to be made toward completion
SMART goals can be used as a framework for writing a strategic plan. The following examples illustrate how SMART goals contain strategic objectives, measurable outcomes, and departmental actions.
Goal: Increase the number of sophomore physics majors by five in each of the next three years, to create larger student cohorts and to surpass institutional minimum enrollment levels.
SMART goals framework:
Specific: “Increase the number of sophomore physics majors by five”
Measurable: “by five in each of the next three years”
Attainable: 30 potential majors take introductory physics but only five persist in the major; there are also underdeveloped relationships with local high school physics teachers.
Relevant: “to surpass institutional minimum enrollment levels”
Time-bound: “in each of the next three years”
“Increase the number of sophomore physics majors by five”
“by five in each of the next three years”
Susan will lead an effort to market our existing engineering physics major to local high school teachers. She will meet with them and their students each fall to describe our program and provide a contact for students and their parents to reach out to for further information. (See the section on Recruiting of Undergraduate Physics Majors for more examples of how to connect with high schools and/or community colleges to recruit for your program.)
Jorge and Jane will recruit students from our algebra-based introductory course into the major by advertising the option to substitute this course for the calculus-based introductory course for a physics major. Jorge and Jane will visit all course sections, briefly summarize the requirements for this option, and offer to be contacts for further information. (See the section on Recruiting of Undergraduate Physics Majors for guidance on how to create and promote flexible pathways for students to major or minor in physics and connect with students in introductory and, if appropriate, service courses.)
Robert and Roberta will identify all students in last semester’s introductory calculus-based physics course who received grades of B- or above. They will write to each student’s high school physics teacher and principal thanking them for sending us excellent students. Robert and Roberta will then follow up on the letters by calling each teacher to invite them to bring their current physics class to visit our department for a personalized tour.
Goal: Recruit three physics majors within the next two years to enroll in education courses required for high school physics teacher licensure, to better meet regional and community needs for physics and other science teachers.
SMART goals framework:
Specific: “Recruit … physics majors … to enroll in education courses required for high school physics teacher licensure”
Measurable: “three physics majors within the next two years to enroll in education courses …”
Attainable: Your department graduates 15 majors per year, but in the past 10 years only one has gone on to become licensed to teach high school. Nationally, according to the PhysTEC project, 5% to 10% of all physics majors become high school teachers. Current majors already serve as graders and laboratory teaching assistants and might be interested in pre-college teaching careers.
Relevant: “to better meet regional and community needs for physics and other science teachers”
Time-bound: “within the next two years”
“Recruit three physics majors within the next two years to enroll in education courses... to attain teacher licensure”
“three physics majors within the next two years to enroll in education courses …”
Mike will invite local high school physics teachers to speak at department events about the joys of teaching physics and will encourage those teachers to invite current physics majors to work with them as interns.
Stephanie will prominently post pictures and short bios of local high school physics teachers on our department’s careers website and bulletin board.
Juanita and Carl will invite physics majors to join them in attending programs of the local AAPT chapter and investigate hosting such programs in our department.
Steve will meet with faculty in the education and teacher licensure programs to align the physics and education curricula for prospective teachers and coordinate support for students pursuing teacher licensure.
Carl and Mary will observe and meet with majors serving as graders, laboratory assistants, and tutors to encourage them to consider high school teaching careers and explain where they can find resources to support their explorations of those careers.
Carlos will invite department graduates who are now teaching high school physics to return to campus (or connect online) for our department’s career events.
Sylvia will discuss with local physics and other science teachers options for physics majors to assist with laboratory projects and demonstrations.