Motivate Students with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise
Help your students unlock their purpose, and they will be motivated to learn the entire semester!
Especially in an online environment, you can more easily engage students by tapping into their intrinsic motivation. In other words, learn how to leverage students’ internal drivers and your class sessions will buzz with energy. There is nothing more internally motivating than pursuing one’s purpose. Where students’ interests intersect with their skills represents their passion. When students combine their passion with the impact they want to have on the world, that becomes their purpose. Do this at the beginning of class, and then make every interaction with your students meaningful by tying everything back to their purpose. For instance, let’s say a student loves playing video games (their interest). They enjoy learning about and getting better at playing video games, and also writing and performing slam poetry (their skills). That leads the student to imagine streaming their preferred video game while performing slam poetry about competitors (their passion). How could this student create an impact?
- They could create educational video games.
- They could create video games to help people empathize with people of other races and socioeconomic status.
- They could raise money through being a Twitch streamer to support causes in their local community.
This purpose becomes the thread that weaves throughout your course. When they practice customer interviewing, or forecasting financial needs, or prototyping, you can link those lessons back to applying those skills to build an educational game company, or whatever they identify their purpose is. And your students stay motivated.
Your students’ purpose is the perfect hook to keep them engaged the entire semester!
Step 1: Interests
To identify their interests, 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
Our example student talks to their friends, who say they are always talking about FPS video games (particularly Call of Duty (COD)), skateboarding, and slam poetry. They think about what they would do if money was no object, and they land on playing FPS video games and skydiving (they have never been skydiving, but loves watching videos of skydiving and dreams of going one day to experience the adrenaline rush). Last, they think back to the last time they lost a couple of hours staring at their phone, and it was watching others stream COD on Twitch. Our student now has their interests mapped out, according to what their friends say, what they dream about, and what holds their attention.
Step 2: Skills
To identify their skills, students think about:
- 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
Our example student again talks to their friends, who say they are good at teaching them how to play FPS video games, and at making them laugh. They think about things they do that they would like to be better at. They really love writing and performing slam poetry, but knows from their performances and comparing themself to other performers that they have a lot of room to improve. They also want to get better at playing Call of Duty. Last, they think hard about what they are really good at, and land on playing FPS video games, at mathematics (Calculus, at least), at Adobe Illustrator, and at slam poetry. Our student now has their skills mapped out, according to what their friends say, what skills they want to improve, and what they are already good at.
To see the entire Pilot Your Purpose Exercise enter your email below!
Step 3: 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
Our example student pulls out “Getting better at streaming COD on Twitch” as the interest they are most excited about, and “slam poetry” and “Adobe Illustrator” as skills they want to improve upon. It takes them a while to think about how to combine these, but eventually lands on combining slam poetry with streaming to “being an entertaining Twitch streamer of COD who does slam poetry while streaming.”
Step 4: Impact
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
Our example student has a big passion for working with and helping kids, so the groups they are excited to help are kids interested in FPS gaming, kids living in poverty, and kids suffering from depression. These are all groups our example student was a member of, so it’s easier for them to get excited about helping these groups. They next turn to problems in their local community they are interested in solving. They again thinks about kids suffering from depression, and bored kids who fall into gang life, and also animal (particularly dog) abuse. Last, they turn their focus to bigger global problems and realizes they would like to solve the problem of poverty and kids suffering from depression.
Step 5: 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)
Our example student looks over their Passion sheet and realizes they are interested in streaming FPS video games (particularly COD) on Twitch, but with a twist. Instead of just playing the game, they want to incorporate their love of slam poetry, to entertain their audience. They next turn to the Impact sheet and realizes they would like to help kids suffering from depression. When they think about combining their passion and their desired impact, they ramble into the idea of
Creating an FPS video game to stream that helps kids learn life coping skills by navigating life situations using creativity / creative writing.
This is our example student’s purpose, that they can weave throughout the rest of the course, as they are developing their entrepreneurial mindset and skill set. Get your copy of the Pilot Your Purpose Worksheet here!
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3 thoughts on “Motivate Students with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise”
Has anyone tried out this exercise with timings? About how long do you think this would take? Also, do you think it would work with a large class (120+ students)?
Hi Anna, I’d love to hear other people’s experiences, but I’ll say from our perspective, this lesson typically takes 45 – 50 minutes.
As long as all students have access to the worksheets, large classes work just fine. We’ve had instructors with 120+ students use it including an instructor with 350+ students.
All the best,
Thanks so much, Justin! That’s really helpful to know. Excited to try this exercise out with my students here in the UK!