We all want to teach motivated students, but this is a particularly challenging time for them:
- Classes are virtual. You and I are experiencing Zoom fatigue, but imagine being a student and being asked to sit through hours of lectures each week.
- Experiential learning is scary. Getting out of the classroom, engaging with strangers, sharing rough experiments with the world – these can all cause students significant anxiety.
- “I’m not an entrepreneur.” Some students may just be filling credits. Others may have a misconception about what it means to be an entrepreneur.
We’ve found the key to keeping students motivated is to…
Help Students Discover Their Intrinsic Motivators
How do you guide students to their intrinsic motivators? Focus on the intersection of three elements:
- The skills they have and want to develop further.
- Their interests that spark their curiosity.
- Where they want to make an impact in the world.
Purpose lies at the intersection of these three elements. If you guide your students through the exercise below early in the semester, they spend the semester working on their purpose.
Students pursuing their purpose = motivated students.
Pilot Your Purpose = Motivated Students
Once students have a purpose, you can ground each class session in that purpose. You don’t have to talk abstractly about difficult or stressful topics like customer interviewing or entrepreneurial finance. Instead, talk with students about how to interview customers for the idea they are most passionate about pursuing, or how to finance their passion project.
Your class becomes an opportunity for students to pursue their purpose!
Interests + Skills = Passion
The easiest on-ramp to identifying passion is interests. Have students think about:
- What friends say they always talk about
- What they would spend time doing if money was no object
- What they were learning about the last time they lost track of time watching Youtube or scrolling on social media
I talk to my friends and colleagues, who say I’m always talking about mentoring programs, curriculum, and big town & gown ideas. I think about what I would do if money was no object, and some things I thought about are building mentoring programs, adopting old dogs, and teaching entrepreneurship to prisoners (I’ve never engaged with prisoners, but think teaching them entrepreneurship would be deeply meaningful). I then think back to the last time I lost a couple of hours staring on my phone, and it was watching others teach Adobe Illustrator.
I now see my interests mapped out, according to what my friends say, what I dream about, and what holds my attention.
- What friends say they are good at
- What they would like to get better at doing
- What they think they are above average at doing
I again talk to my friends, who say I am good at being coaching teachers, giving honest feedback, and at being sarcastic. I think about things I do that I want to be better at. I love, for instance, trying to create engaging content on social media, but know I have a lot to learn! Last, I think hard about what I am really good at, and land on creating curriculum, presenting, coaching/mentoring and connecting others.
I now see my skills mapped out, according to what my friends say, areas I want to improve, and what I’m already good at.
Here is the exercise to motivate your students!
To download the full Pilot Your Purpose exercise enter your email below!
What Is Your Passion?
To identify their passion, students:
- Look back at their interests sheet and jot down what excites them
- Look back at their skills sheet and jot down what they are interested in getting better at
- Think of ways to combine interests and skills
After reviewing my interests, I extract “Mentoring programs (for young adults)” and “Town and gown partnerships” as the interests I am most excited about, and “coaching” and “presentation” as skills I want to improve upon. I think deeply about how to combine these, and eventually land on combining mentoring programs and coaching to “build ‘infinity’ mentoring programs”.
I now see a pretty specific idea of how to combine my interests and skills in a way that is highly motivating!
Impact = Intrinsic Motivation
With a passion identified, students now turn to the impact they want to have on the world. To do that, students think about:
- Groups of people they’re excited to help
- Problems in their community they’re interested in solving
- Global problems they’re interested in solving
I have a huge passion for working with and helping young people, so the groups I am excited to help are “lost” college students, children living in poverty, girls struggling with confidence, etc. I then turn to problems in my local community I am interested in solving. I again thinks about college students who are “lost” (i.e., they don’t know how to prepare for life after college), food insecurity, and dog abuse. Last, I turn my focus to bigger global problems and realize I would like to solve the problem of gender inequality and food insecurity.
Students will see a landscape of problems they want to solve and people they want to help. Thinking about addressing everything on this slide will fill them with a contagious level of energy and excitement!
Passion + Impact = Purpose
Students are now ready to identify their purpose:
- Look back at their Passion sheet and jot down what stands out
- Look back at their Impact sheet and jot down what stands out
- Think of ways to combine passion and impact (which is their purpose)
I look over my Passion sheet and realize I am interested in developing mentoring programs, but with a twist to make them self-sustaining. I then turn to the Impact sheet and realize I would like to help college students searching for how to prepare for life after college. When I think about combining my passion and my desired impact, I create the idea of
Developing an infinity mentoring program wherein later college students mentor young college students, & as they move through their career they keep cycling through the mentoring loop.
The Pilot Your Purpose exercise is a great way to keep your students motivated all semester. You can meet with your students individually after completing this exercise & have them share their purpose so you understand what makes them tick.
As you move into each module of your course, you can reference a particular student’s purpose to talk about why the particular module is relevant. For instance, when you introduce a financial module, you might reference an example student who wants to be a video game designer and how they need to hire a project manager, programmers, 3D artist, and quality assurance specialists to complement their team, pay for servers, legal fees to protect their IP, a 3D engine license, and potentially rent for space for the team to create.
As you begin each module of your course, students will stay motivated as they see the direct application of the particular material to their purpose!
Get your copy of the Pilot Your Purpose Worksheet here!
Want More Engaged Students?
Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.
Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students
- in any course structure
- on all major learning management system
We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.