Motivate Students to Make a Difference Through Core Purpose

One of the biggest challenges educators face is student motivation. How do we convince someone who seems disinterested — or seems to have given up — to care about doing well in 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. We can try to make our values and motivations theirs. But much of the time, it’s an exercise in futility.

Help Students Discover Their Purpose

Here’s a different approach: we can help them understand who they are, their goals, and how education supports those goals. Help them figure out what motivates them, deep down. Help them discern their own, personal core purpose. Guide them to figure out how they can make a difference in their community and in the world.

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.

“The Drum Major Instinct” 

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.

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. 

Motivating Students to Reach Their Goals

EduGuide helps schools, colleges and other groups develop the 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.

Bonus activity:

Share this page of quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and ask students to reflect on what those statements mean to them and how they might serve others.

Go deeper into EduGuide’s process for motivating students and helping them reach their goals. Schedule a call with our team.


Strengthening Students’ Wellbeing

Boosting Attendance by Boosting Motivation


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