This past year, I started having my students do something new on the first day of class, that perhaps they have never done. After I present all the administrative information to the class, I tell them to get out of a piece of paper and pencil.  I ask them to think about their goal for this class for about 5 minutes.  After, I ask them to think about what they will sacrifice in order to accomplish their goal in this class.

I actually took this strategy from a book I read that was recommended by a friend of mine, which is called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. In his book, he emphasizes that nothing in life is free, and if you want something you have to exchange something for it. Whatever it may be, we need to give something in return.  I told them that I wrote the following, “In order for me to be the best teacher I can be in this course, I will sacrifice time with my daughter, in order to be attentive to each and every one of your needs” . I gave them a minute to write their goal down.

After, my instructions are simple. Read your statement twice a day, once when you rise, and once when you go to sleep.  I emphasize that your subconscious is a powerful component of your will, and if you program your subconscious, the rest will come.  I explained to my students, that whenever you feel unmotivated because of a bad grade, or because they don’t understand something, to read their statement, and analyze if they are actually sacrificing what they wrote down in their statement.

At the start of every class, I tried to remind them to make sure to read their statements.  I perhaps didn’t do such a good job of following up, but will try and reinforce this next semester, as I had a few students drop my C++ Programming 2 course.  But I was glad to see that some of those that did stay, did very well in the course, and were constantly asking questions, almost as if they enjoyed learning, and not there for a grade, which is something I hadn’t experienced in such a long time.  I had one student apologizing to me because he thought he was being annoying by emailing me and asking questions, but in truth, this is exactly what I was after. I love when students email me, and apply themselves to learn.  This is of course why I enjoy educating and sharing information with others.


Motivating College Students

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