Activity: Motivation Through Core Purpose

MLKOne of the biggest challenges we face in education is student motivation. How do we convince someone who seems disinterested — or seems to have given up — to care about doing well in a math or English class, or preparing for college and a career?

As educators, we can wear ourselves out trying to convince a student that a particular assignment or class is important, trying to make our values and motivations theirs. Most of the time, it’s an exercise in futility.

Here’s a different approach: we can help them understand who they are, their goals, and how education supports those goals. What motivates them, deep down. Their own, personal core purpose.

Research by Dr. David Yeager indicates that when students spend time building their core purpose, their academic outcomes go up, and they are more likely to persist toward a degree. That’s a key part of what students do in EduGuide’s program, so we wanted to share a free, printable activity you can use to get your students started in this process.

It’s based on a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called “The Drum Major Instinct.” In this speech, King articulates his own core purpose: the legacy for which he wants to be remembered, after his death.

EduGuide Core Purpose Activity

EduGuide Core Purpose Activity Guide

Part of this activity asks students to reflect on and articulate their core purpose in terms of the difference they want to make for others and the legacy they want to leave behind. It also asks them to think about education and how it might support those goals. To see how some students answered these questions through creative videos, check out our 2015 EduGuide Challenge winners.

coremotivationEduGuide helps schools, colleges and other groups across the country develop the noncognitive and social-emotional skills that motivate students to reach their goals. One of the most critical of these is core purpose. This print activity is just one week’s lesson in EduGuide’s multi-year curriculum. We’ve found that 15 minutes or more per week building core purpose and other core learning skills through our interactive platform can have a profound impact on student behavior and motivation. And we hope this activity helps your students begin that process, too.


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