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

Author(s): Cavadel, Elizabeth W.; Kauff, Jacqueline F.; Anderson, Mary Anne; McConnell, Sheena; et al.

Organizational Author(s): Mathematica Policy Research

Funding Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Resource Availability: Publically available

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Summary

Provides fundamental information for researchers, policy makers, and practitioners interested in enhancing workforce programs and improving participants’ employment-related outcomes through strategies to strengthen individual self-regulation, defined as the ability to control thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Participants exhibited personality traits linked to entrepreneurship and the gig economy.

Description

“[Self-regulation, a] new approach to help low-income adults obtain and maintain employment[,] draws on psychology and brain development science research in an effort to help families on the path to self-sufficiency. Recent attention on the role of self-regulation in goal attainment in particular has generated interest in designing new interventions” (p.vii). “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….Second, there is growing evidence that the conditions associated with poverty can hinder the development and/or use of self-regulation skills….Third, there is suggestive evidence that self-regulation skills continue to develop and improve in adulthood…” (p.vii).

“This report provides foundational information for researchers, policy makers, and practitioners interested in designing workforce development programs focused on self-regulation and goal attainment. It describes the self-regulation skills that may be most relevant for attaining employment-related goals and discusses options for developing and evaluating employment programs for low-income adults that incorporate these interventions” (p.vii).

“Four key [research] questions drive this report: (1) What are self-regulation skills and how do they support goal attainment; (2) What role do environmental factors play in self-regulation and goal attainment; (3) What strategies may strengthen self-regulation skills and promote goal attainment; and (4) What options exist for measuring success in programs that incorporate a focus on self-regulation and goal attainment?” (p.vii).

“This report is based on a review of [U.S.] literature [from the last 15 years] addressing the relationship between self-regulation and goal attainment and how programs have been or could be adapted to strengthen the skills necessary to achieve goals” (p.viii).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“What are self-regulation skills and how do they support goal attainment?” (p.xi).

“[The authors] define self-regulation broadly as a set of skills that allow [people] to intentionally control thoughts, emotions, and behavior…” (p.xi). These skills include: executive function, selective attention, metacognition, emotion understanding, emotion regulation, motivation, grit, and self-efficacy (p.xi-xii).

“Evidence suggests that these self-regulation skills interact to collectively support goal achievement. However, there is limited evidence explicitly linking particular skills with goal outcomes in employment settings” (p.xii).

“What role do environmental factors play in self-regulation and goal attainment?” p.xii.

“[The authors] focus on [these]…environmental factors…:
• Adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress. Self-regulation skills develop most rapidly during childhood, but adverse experiences, such as family instability, exposure to violence or abuse, harsh parenting, neglect, and food instability, can disrupt the brain circuits involved in the development of these skills…” (p.xii).
• “Poverty. Psychologists have long argued that our capacity…for using our cognitive skills is limited….[P]overty uses…some of [our capacity], rendering self-regulation skills less effective” (p.xii).

“What strategies may strengthen self-regulation skills and promote goal attainment?” (p.xiii).

“Several [evidence-based] interventions…have been found effective in helping adults modify their behavior, although none of these have been developed for employment-related contexts nor tested in relation to improving employment outcomes: Cognitive behavioral therapy.…Mental contrasting with implementation intentions.…Mindfulness.…Attention bias modification.…Motivational interviewing…” (p.xiii).

“Strategies that support or reduce the burdens of self-regulation…include: Goal setting.…Scaffolding.…Offering incentives.…Assessing goodness-of-fit.…[and] Providing reminders and messages…” (p.xiii-xiv).

“What options exist for measuring success in programs that incorporate a focus on self-regulation and goal attainment?” (p.xiv).

“Identifying appropriate measures of self-regulation will be challenging because existing measures tend to be narrowly focused on discrete skills and often do not correlate well with real-world functioning. One solution is to focus on real life, goal-oriented behaviors that encompass more than one type of self-regulation skill” (p.xiv).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

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Workforce System Strategies Content Information

Methodology: Literature Reviews
Target Populations: Low-income/Poverty

Post Information

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Publication Date: 2017
Posted: 12/3/2017 5:47 PM
Posted In: Workforce System Strategies
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