Creating SMART Goals

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.

Examples:

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”

  • Strategic Objectives

    • “Increase the number of sophomore physics majors by five”

  • Measurable Outcomes

    • “by five in each of the next three years”

  • Departmental Actions

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”

  • Strategic Objectives

    • “Recruit three physics majors within the next two years to enroll in education courses... to attain teacher licensure”

  • Measurable Outcomes

    • “three physics majors within the next two years to enroll in education courses …”

  • Departmental Actions

    • 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.