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Goal-Oriented Adult Learning in Self-Sufficiency (GOALS), 2014-2020

Project Overview

The purpose of this project was to explore how emerging insights from psychology can strengthen programs aimed at helping families achieve self-sufficiency. In particular, the project reviewed the implications of existing research on psychological processes associated with goal-directed behaviors, including socio-emotional and cognitive development, executive functioning, soft skills and related areas. The project then synthesized current research on these topics, addressing how insights gained from research can be used to promote economic advancement among low-income populations; identified promising strategies for strengthening underlying skills in these areas; and identified tools to measure changes and other developments in skill acquisition. The project also developed logic models mapping how programs could incorporate psychology informed frameworks into interventions to support family self-sufficiency, employment training, career and technical education and positive parenting practices for low-income adults, and how evaluators may measure outcomes of interest. This project conducted fieldwork to learn about existing programs that are currently integrating these frameworks into employment and training and parenting programs. The results of this project informed future programmatic and evaluation efforts in the areas of strengthening and supporting goal-directed behavior for families.

The research design includes a literature review, surveys and site visits. Mathematica Policy Research conducted the study.

The points of contact are Girley Wright.

  • GOALS Summary Report

    Published: May 31, 2019

    Practitioners, policymakers, and researchers are continually exploring and evaluating ways to support low-income families in increasing their economic independence. The fields of psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science suggest new options for developing and studying interventions to increase employment among low-income adults. A particular area of interest is self-regulation, which...

  • Supporting Employees and Maximizing Profit: The Case for Workforce Development Focused on Self-Regulation

    Published: April 3, 2019

    Human service agencies and employers have compatible goals with respect to workforce development among low-income populations. Low-wage workers often experience high rates of job turnover and difficulty advancing...

  • Improving Employment Outcomes: Using Innovative Goal-Oriented Strategies in TANF Programs

    Published: April 3, 2019

    New evidence from neuroscience, psychology, and other behavioral sciences suggests that TANF programs may be able to improve participants’ outcomes by applying the science of self-regulation. Self-regulation refers to a foundational set of skills and personality factors that enable people to control their thoughts...

  • Using The Science About Self-Regulation To Improve Economic Outcomes For TANF Families

    Published: December 13, 2018

    Administrators and staff of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs are continually looking for new strategies to help their participants achieve economic independence. Many TANF employment programs focus on rapid job placement...

  • Using Psychology-Informed Strategies to Promote Self-Sufficiency: A Review of Innovative Programs

    Published: June 15, 2018

    Workforce development and human services program providers and policymakers are continually looking for new strategies to promote employment and enhance self-sufficiency for low-income adults and their families. Traditionally, programs designed to help low-income adults find and keep jobs have focused on building participants’ job search skills and work experience, providing education...

  • New Perspectives on Practice: A Guide to Measuring Self-Regulation and Goal-Related Outcomes in Employment Programs

    Published: June 15, 2018

    Employment programs are inherently goal-oriented. They seek to help participants achieve self-sufficiency, typically through education; work readiness and job training; job search assistance or requirements; supportive services (such as assistance with child care and transportation); and access to employment opportunities. Programs have been working to improve participants’ employment...

  • Improving Outcomes Among Employment Program Participants Through Goal Attainment: A Conceptual Framework

    Published: November 30, 2017

    Researchers, policymakers, and practitioners are increasingly interested in the role that self-regulation and goal attainment may play in the ability of low-income adults to get and keep a job. Findings from three broad areas...

  • Self-Regulation and Goal Attainment: A New Perspective for Employment Programs

    Published: April 6, 2017

    Researchers, policymakers, and practitioners are increasingly interested in the role that self-regulation may play in the ability of people to obtain and maintain employment. This interest is motivated by findings from three broad strands of research. First, research suggests self-regulation is necessary for goal setting and goal pursuit, which in turn foster positive outcomes across a variety of contexts (Deci and Ryan 2000)...

More Reports on this Project