Date of Award

Spring 6-13-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Barbara Rieckhoff

Second Advisor

Andrea Kayne Kaufman

Third Advisor

Sally Julian


According to the U.S. Department of Education, the national high school graduation rate is 81% and only 59% of college enrolled students in 2006 obtained a college degree within ten years of entering 9th grade (U. S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, 2014). Studies conclude that high school grades predicted academic performance no matter what type of high school the students attended and that students who had good grades went on to graduate from college as a result of self-efficacy, motivation, and academic goals (Bowen, Chingos, & McPherson, 2011). Limited research suggests that using mental contrasting and implementation intentions (MCII) positively impacts short-term goal attainment in educational settings. The purpose of this experimental study was to investigate the effects of high school students using these strategies prior to setting academic goals for a ten week marking period. One-hundred and eighteen students attending an urban charter school located in the United States participated in the study. Participants were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a control group. Prior to setting their English course academic goals, students in the treatment group learned how to use mental contrasting and created implementation intentions. Results indicate a positive correlation between the MCII intervention and academic performance since there was a significant effect on end-of-quarter grades for students assigned to the experimental group (p = .025). This study supports the recommendation to develop curricula that includes teaching goal setting strategies, as well as other noncognitive skills and metacognitive strategies, with the aim of improving academic performance.