Bandura, A., &†Schunk, D.H. (1981). Cultivating competence, self-efficacy, and intrinsic interest through proximal self-motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41(3), 586-598.
In this article, the authors test the hypothesis that self-motivation through proximal goal-setting is an effective way to develop competencies, self-perceptions of efficacy, and inherent interest. The researchers matched 40 elementary school-aged children with deficits and disinterest in mathematics to learning under various conditions of goal-setting. Results from this study support the benefits of proximal goal-setting: increases in self-directed learning, efficacy, and attention to topics that were initially of little interest, mastery of subject knowledge, and accurate self-knowledge of abilities.