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Motivating Students to Develop Their Full Potential

In a scenario from Increasing Motivation` a teacher suggests that improved Strategies for Learning-and-Performing will be useful, and some students think “I'm doing fine so I don't need it.”

But even if they continue "doing fine," they could do better.  The following story might help motivate these students (I'm imagining them as incoming freshmen at UW-Madison) to invest more time in developing their full potential, trying to be all they can be.


Emily and You

Emily develops her basketball skills by working hard and working smart.  She works on all aspects of her game (dribbling, shooting, passing, guarding,...) on her own and in practices, plays in competitive games, follows the advice of her coach, attends summer camps, reads articles, watches film of her games plus videos on youtube, talks with other players, eats nutritious foods in useful amounts (not too much, not too little), and does special exercises to improve her strength & flexibility, speed & quickness.  Why?  She invests her time and effort, trying to think-and-do everything that might help, because she has above-average basketball ability, and she wants to fully develop her potential, to become the best she can be.

What about you?  You've been accepted into UW because you have above-average intellectual ability, and you probably will earn a living in a career with a heavy emphasis on thinking.  Do you want to become the best you can be?  If you set your goals high — if you want to fully develop your potential for learning, thinking, and performance — you'll want to work hard and work smart.  Of course, there are practical limits on your studying time, because you want a balanced life that also includes time for sleeping, relaxing, socializing, and other activities.  Therefore we want to help you “work smarter” so you can use your studying time more efficiently and learn more effectively, this semester and beyond, continuing throughout college and into your life after graduation.


I.O.U. — This story is still in the early stages of development, regarding how it could be revised, and how it could be used and supplemented.

possible contexts:  Instead of being an isolated stand-alone story, it probably would be part of an Instruction Module where it would be read in the context of doing Design Activities, learning Design Process, and discovering the personal benefits of developing design-based metacognitive Learning Strategies as part of a problem-solving approach to Personal Education.

Humility:  I view this analogy-story as a starting point, hoping that others (students, teachers,...) will offer suggestions to improve it.


Here are some possibilities:

I use a sports analogy, which will appeal to some students but not others.  A wider range of students could be motivated with examples of people in other areas of life who, like Emily, are investing intelligent effort to develop their abilities.

Instead of an imaginary “anonymous Emily” it could be a real-life story about a respected celebrity.

Instead of a page (to read), making a video (to see-and-hear) might be more effective, and more likely to be used.

And one or more other approaches could supplement this “full potential” type of story.