What is the relationship between goals and tasks?

Tasks and objectives are not the same thing. You'd be surprised how easy it can be to confuse them and how often it happens. Tasks describe how people spend their time, while goals are the results they're looking for. This study was conducted to examine the effects of task complexity and task practice (essays) on the relationship between goal and performance.

It was predicted that specific and difficult objective assignments would improve performance on a complex task only in the subsequent practice of the tasks. In the case of a simpler task, it was predicted that assigning specific and difficult objectives would improve performance in the initial practice of tasks and alter performance in later practice. The results indicated that the objectives had the expected effects in the version of simple tasks, but had no effect on the version of complex tasks. The possible relationships between the amount of task practice and the skill acquisition stages for tasks that differ in complexity are discussed.

The results are also discussed in terms of cognitive resource demands and self-regulation processes. The implications for the effectiveness of objectives in relation to the complexity of tasks and task tests are also discussed.