Instructor Manual: Understanding Motivation, Create Your Success

Click the above link to view Word documents for all the handouts for this chapter.


Student Learning Outcome

Students will examine various motivational strategies and apply them to their success in college, careers, and in their personal lives.

Introductory Activities :


The First Day


The first day in the course is important because it sets the stage for all that follows.  It is important to use this day to introduce yourself and to begin to get to know your students.  Provide positive feedback for class participation to encourage this activity throughout the semester.   Provide a course syllabus to explain your expectations, course objectives, grading and other important information.  Include activities that engage students in learning from the first day of class. 


Ice Breakers

As one option for an introductory activity, use the Ice Breakers group activity to help students get to know one another.  It contains interesting questions useful for beginning a conversation. Here are a couple of sites with additional ice breakers:

Zoom Ice Breakers

What in the Zoom is different?
Make sure that everyone knows how to turn off their Zoom camera. Students turn off their cameras and change one thing about their personal appearance. For example, they could put on a hat, change shirts, or do something different with their hair. Then they turn the camera back on to see who can find the change. Students take turns doing this.

Quarantine Ice Breaker
In this exercise, students are given 30 seconds to step away from the computer and grab one thing they could not do without during quarantine. After 30 seconds, share the item with the group and state why it is important.

Snowball Ice Breaker/Preview the Topic

This think, ink, pair, share exercise can be used as an ice breaker or as a way to preview any topic.  Here are the steps:

  1. On a blank piece of paper, write down a question.  Crumple the paper and throw it like a snowball.  Here are some sample topics:  
    What questions do you have about _____ college?
    What questions do you have as you begin college?
    What questions do you have about how to read a college textbook? 
    What questions do you have about how to be successful in college. 
    What questions do you have about support services at our college?
    What questions do you have about ______.  

  2. Pick up a tossed snowball, un-crumple it and read it. Write an answer or a new question. 

  3. Crumple the page and throw it.

  4. Pick up a tossed snowball, un-crumple it and read it.  Write an answer or a new question. 

  5.  Crumple the page and throw it. 

  6. Pick up a tossed snowball and keep it.  Un-crumple the page and read it. 

  7. Discuss the questions and answers with one other person.

  8.  Debrief the exercise as a whole group.  What were interesting questions?  What were useful answers?  Were some questions not answered?  When using the ice breaker with faculty, ask "What are the key elements of this ice breaker?"  How could this exercise be adapted to introduce or preview any topic?

This exercise can be used to find out what questions participants have about the topic and can serve to set the stage for learning.  It is a way of finding out what participants already know about the topic and gets them involved in the discussion.  It involves all students in a non-threatening way since they have the opportunity to first think about the topic and then write a question or answer before they discuss it with another person or the whole group.  It is also a fun activity that breaks the ice and helps students to feel comfortable in contributing their own ideas.  Be ready for a snowball fight! 

Click this link for the written directions to the Snowball Ice Breaker

(This exercise was adapted from an exercise suggested by Cheryl Spector, California State University, Northridge and shared on the FYE listserve.)

The Line Game

This game can be used as an ice breaker or as a way to appreciate diversity. To play this game, place a piece of tape across the floor. Ask students to step on the line if the questions pertain to them. Students can opt not to step on the line if they feel uncomfortable doing so, but emphasize that this is a safe place to share. For an ice breaker, ask these sample types of questions. Start with some fun questions to break the ice.

My favorite color is blue.
My favorite food is pizza.
I love chocolate.
I know my major.
I am undecided about my major.
I am excited about starting college.
I would rather be at the beach today.
I feel confident about succeeding in college.
I know I will face many challenges in attending college.
I am on a sports team in college.
I am the first one in my family to attend college.
I speak another language.

Students can also suggest questions.

You can view a YouTube video of this game from Freedom Writers with Hillary Swank.

Marshmallow Team Building Activity

Divide your class into groups. Give each group these materials: 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti noodles, 1 yard of string, 1 yard of tape and a marshmallow. Give each group 18 minutes to see which team can build the tallest free-standing structure. The marshmallow must be on top of the structure. Award prizes or extra credit points to the winning group. Questions for discussion:

How well did the members of your group communicate?
How did your group deal with conflict?
What helped your group to be successful?

See a Ted Talk video of this exercise: Tom Wujec: Build a Tower, Build a Team
See Steve Piscitelli's Blog for further applications of this exercise.


Students can motivate and help each other to stay on track and be successful in the class. Divide students into groups of 5. Ask students to make a name for their team. Group members exchange phone numbers so they can contact each other. To get to know one another, have students in each team answer these questions for about 10 minutes:

Why are you attending college? What is your major? What is your favorite food? Do you have a favorite sports team? Do you have a favorite musical group?

Teams earn points by turning in assignments. Announce the team score after each assignment is due.

Circle Introductions

Divide the class into two groups and have them form an inner and outer circle with students facing each other.  Students in the inner circle have a list of questions to ask their partner in the outer circle.  An example of a question is, "What was your favorite subject in high school?"  After 30 seconds, the outer circle rotates one person to the right.  Repeat the process asking different questions on the list.  In a short time students will have the opportunity to meet several students in the class.  Here are sample questions from this exercise, Speed Dating, used by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. 

Treasure Hunt

Ask students to stand up and introduce themselves to five people that they do not know.  Have each student explain to the class why each one is a treasure.  If it is a large class, have each student introduce one other student and explain why he or she is a treasure. 

Student Information Sheet


Use the Student Information Sheet to collect information on your students so that you can create their Blackboard account and contact them in the future.   


Finding Resources: The Digital Photo Scavenger Hunt

It is important for students to find resources that can help them along the way in college.  Break students into groups and have them take digital photos of places on campus and prepare a PowerPoint presentation to share with the class.  They can also do the presentation using a photo sharing file, Movie Maker or IMovie. Other options are the Goose Chase App at or Klikaklu at Here is a sample handout adapted by Heidi Smith and Ericka Landry at the Lone Star College System. Encourage students to be creative and enjoy the experience.

Have students find a place where you can:

  • find some help.

  • eat some lunch.

  • get some money.

  • relax.

  • get healthy.

  • get a band aid.

  • be inspired.

  • get some class

  • study.

  • feel secure. 


Seating Chart: Where You Choose to Sit in Your First College Class Says a Lot about You


Your choice of a seat in a college classroom tells a lot about your motivation to be successful in this course. Draw a blank seating chart on the board and ask students where they would sit and why. Then pass out this humerous seating chart that shows various reasons for choosing a seat. Here is a Word document of the seating chart.


(From James LaBate at Hudson Valley Community College.)



The 15 Minute Deal


Explain to students that you will never lecture more than 15 minutes before asking them to do something with the material.  Having students use the material or practice it helps with motivation and involves them in learning.  It also makes students more accountable for their own learning.  After 15 minutes, have students  explain to others what they have learned, show notes, take a quiz, do a one minute paper, complete an exercise or join in with groups to share information.  Research on teaching and learning shows that most of us remember:


  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we both see and hear
  • 70% of what we have discussed with others
  • 80% of what we have experienced personally
  • 95% of what we teach someone else


Create a Portfolio


Have student create a portfolio of the most important assignments in the class.  Going over the contents of the portfolio is a good overview of the course objectives and what will be accomplished in the class.  Here are some suggestions for the contents of the portfolio:

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Student educational plan
  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Journal entries (Use all of them or select what you consider most important)
  • Assessments
    • Begin With Self Assessment/Success Wheel (from first and last day of class)
    • TruTalent Personality, Intelligences, Skills, and Learning Assessments
  • Essays
    • Personality
    • Values
    • Interests
    • Learning Style
    • Careers

Letters of Advice on How to be Successful in Class


At the end of each semester, have students write letters of advice to future students on how to be successful in the class.  Get students' permission to share the letters.  Choose the best letters and duplicate them. Put the letters in envelopes and pass them out to students on the first day of class.  Have students get in groups of three and share ideas from the different letters.  Have each group share ideas with the class.  The instructor writes down key ideas on the board.   


Also you can get students who successfully completed the course to come in as guest speakers to share experiences and how to be successful in the course. 


At the end of each semester, pass out samples of student letters and then challenge students to improve on the letters for the next semester. 


What Do I Want from College?


This exercise is designed to help students think about their reasons for attending college.  It is integrated into the Web edition and is included at the end of the chapter in the print edition.  This exercise can also be used as a classroom activity.  After completing the written or Web activity, ask students introduce themselves by saying their name and telling the class their most important reason for attending college.  Ask for a volunteer to begin or select a row at random to get started.  Praise the courage of the first student and show support and respect for the response.  Encourage students to participate, but give them the option to pass if they want.  On the first day, a few students may be too anxious to speak in front of the group. With large groups of students, break the large groups into groups of 10 students and have students introduce themselves to the small group.


Bookmark for What do I Want from College


After students have completed the exercise “What do I Want from College?”, have them create a bookmark illustrating their most important reasons for attending college.  Provide colored paper, markers or crayons to create the markers in class.  Use the bookmark throughout the semester as a reminder of reasons for attending college. 


Begin with Self Assessment/Success Wheel


This assessment is located in the first chapter of both the printed and online texts.  It measures the main course objectives and can be used as a pre-test.  The same exercise appears in the last chapters of both the printed and online text and can be used as a post-test.  At the end of the course, students can compare their answers on the two tests to measure their improvement.  If you are using the print edition, collect the “Begin with Self Assessment” exercise and save it until the last day of class.  On the last day of class, have the students complete “Measure Your Success” which is the post-test located in the last chapter.  Pass out the “Begin with Self Assessment” completed on the first day of class in order to compare it to “Measure Your Success” which is the post test. 


If you are using the online text, the pre and post test are automatically compared in the last chapter.  Have the students do a quick write on the progress shown on this assessment.  The students can see how much they have learned during the semester.  Students are pleasantly surprised that they have improved a great deal.  This is especially significant because it involves the student’s own personal assessment rather than a teacher grade. 


The Success Wheel is a graphic representation of Measure Your Success which is a pre-test. Complete this wheel at the beginning and at the end of this course. It is included in the print edition, but not the online versions.
Success Wheel 9th Edition
Success Wheel 9th Edition Concise
Success Wheel for Career Success

Success Wheel for Native American and Hawaiian versions



Introduction Exercise

In this exercise, students are paired off and asked to introduce each other to the class.  Begin this exercise by distributing 3 X 5 cards to the class.  Ask each student to write information on the card as follows:

3 Things You Do Well
2 Things You Like to Do
What place would you like to visit?
What is your most important reason for attending college?

Using the completed cards, tell each pair of students that they have three minutes to interview each other.  Tell them you will let them know when a minute and a half has passed so each person will have equal time for the interview.  You can extend the time a little if necessary.  After each person has had the opportunity to interview the other, students introduce their partner to the class.  Challenge students to do the introduction without the information card if they can do it.    

You can shorten the time required for this exercise by dividing the class into groups of 6.  Students work in pairs and then join with 2 other pairs for the introductions.  

(from Paul Delys, Instructor, Cuyamaca College, El Cajon, CA)


Five Things You Want to Do, Be and Have


As an introductory exercise, have students brainstorm five things they want to do, be and have.  In small groups, have students share their ideas with others.  This exercise could also be done as an introduction to the lifeline exercise located in the last chapter. 


Attendance Exercise


Choose any popular movie and write it on the board.  Ask students if they have seen the movie.  Tell the class that one of your students, Garrett, found the movie confusing and did not understand it.  Here is why:

He arrives late to movies and does not see the previews.

He arrived 10 minutes late to the movie.

His cell phone rings and he leaves the movie to answer it.

Pretty soon nature calls and he leaves again.

Then he buys a snack.

He leaves to smoke a cigarette.

He didn’t understand the movie at all.  The same thing happens when you miss class. 


Understanding the Grading System:  What Is My Grade? 

Students (especially developmental students) often do not understand how they are graded.  Use these creative scenarios to help students understand the grading system used in your class.  The scenarios can also be used to help students understand the syllabus.   See the sample handout for this activity. 
(Contributed by Barbara Eckenfels, The Lone Star College System.) 

Life Stories


This exercise provides an opportunity for people to get to know one another by sharing a story about their lives.  It can be used as an introductory activity or in the chapter on diversity as a way to help people to understand and appreciate personal differences.   Click here to view the Life Stories handout.    


Person Bingo


Make a bingo game with nine squares.  Example of items to include in the squares:


1.  Someone undecided about his or her major

2.  Someone who enjoys surfing

3.  Someone with a definite major

4.  Someone who has been out of school for a while

5.  Someone under age 20

6.  Someone who has children

7.  Someone who plays a musical instrument

8.  Someone who likes math

9.  Someone who speaks a foreign language


You can be creative about what is written in each square by including: items about holidays, techniques for motivation, places you have visited, who has a certain job or who has certain skills.   Since surfing may not be an option for your students, adapt the items to fit your geographical area.  Include humorous items to add some fun to this activity.   


To begin, ask each question in the bingo game and ask students to raise their hands if they can sign the square with this question.  For example, ask how many students are undecided about their major and have students raise their hands.  If no one can sign a square, make this square a free space.  For example, if no one enjoys surfing, make this square a free space. After the instructions have been given, have the students get up and find a student to write their name in a square that applies to them.  Give small prizes (such as college pencils or markers) for the first person or first five persons to complete black out bingo.   Click here to view a sample Person Bingo form. 


Model Unacceptable Behavior


The first day of class is the best time to share your expectations about acceptable behavior.  This can be done in a humorous way by modeling behavior that you find unacceptable.  For example, have someone call you on your cell phone and interrupt the class to have a personal conversation.  Other negative behaviors to model could include: gum chewing, talking while eating, having a side conversation, wearing a hat pulled down over your face or putting your head down for a nap.  Be creative with this one so that students laugh, but get the point you are trying to make.    


Play “Hangman”


Play the popular hangman game with the following poem:


            If it is to be

            It is up to me


As a hint, tell the class that the poem has 10 words and each word has only two letters. 


Exercises for Chapter 1, Understanding Motivation and Create your Success;:

Pre-Test Success Wheel
The Success Wheel is a graphic representation of Measure Your Success which is a pre-test. Complete this wheel at the beginning and at the end of this course. It is included in the print edition, but not the online versions.
Success Wheel 9th Edition
Success Wheel 9th Edition Concise
Success Wheel for Career Success

Success Wheel for Native American and Hawaiian versions


Mindset Exercise
Students are provided with typical college scenarios and asked to decide if they describe a fixed or growth mindset. If they are an example of fixed mindset, they are asked how they can be changed to a growth mindset that improves chances for success. The Mindset Exercise handout has the scenarios and discussion questions.


Roadblocks to College Success

Students attend college with a dream of making a better future for themselves.  Break the class into small groups to share their dreams for the future for 5-7 minutes.  Next students identify their possible roadblocks to success.  List these possible roadblocks on the board and discuss ways to overcome them.  Have students quickly skim the textbook to find 5 topics that will help them to overcome their roadblocks and achieve their dreams. End the activity with a quick write on how students will overcome their own personal roadblocks to success.  The handout, Road Blocks and Pathways to Success, leads students through the process.

Developing Passion and Perseverance: Grit


One of the most important keys to success is developing passion and perseverance, or grit. Grit is defined as the passion and perseverance to achieve lifetime goals, such as graduating from college. There is a self-scoring Grit Scale which you and your students can use to measure grit or you can download a .pdf of the Grit Scale for classroom use. Grit is connected to the idea of a growth mindset as described in the motivation chapter. Here are some questions for discussion after taking the grit assessment.


What is grit? (It is passion and perseverance)
How is grit connected to success in college, in your career, or in your personal life. (Grittier students are more successful in all these areas.)
How do gritty people view failure? (They learn from it and view it as an opportunity to improve next time.)
Can grit be learned? (Yes, it can.)
How is grit connected to mindset? (Students with a growth mindset are grittier.)
How can you increase grit? (Be aware of mindset, find interest and passion, increase effort, develop a sense of purpose, hope for the best)

View a 6.12 minute video of Angela Duckworth presenting her research on grit: The Key to Success? Grit This video is recommended for faculty.

Have students view this 7.21 minute video: The Secrets to Success by Will Smith and discuss how he uses grit to be successful. This video could also be used to introduce the topic before taking the Grit Scale.


Reference: Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (New York: Scribner, 2016.) Read a 2 page book review by Marsha Fralick.


Breaking Down Barriers

In this creative exercise, students write down their barriers to success and place them in a paper bag.  Then students are asked to make a brick out of the bag and students build a wall with them.  They use a ball to knock down the wall.  The Breaking Down Barriersfacilitation guide has the details for this exercise. (From Rachel Veretto, Aims Community College, Greeley, CO)

Using Scenarios to Increase Motivation and Success for At Risk Students

These scenarios describe community college students who are facing significant barriers to their success and challenge students to use the concepts in this chapter to overcome them.  Students are asked to analyze the scenarios and devise a plan of action applying these concepts:


Locus of Control


Study Area

Study Hours

You could make some minor revisions to these scenarios to fit the students at your college.  These scenarios would also make interesting group discussions.  Note that the names on the scenarios are swahili numbers one, two, three, five, six and seven.  It is suggested that these scenarios be used in weeks five or six and possibly as a final exam activity. 

Handouts:  Case Studies, Case Study Assignment

(Contributed by Danny Wyatt, Leeward Community College-Wai'anae Education Center, Hawaii) 


What Do You Want out of Life? My Personal Philosophy


Do a one minute paper. Ask the students, "What do you want out of life?" Ask students to underline their best sentence and then ask students to share them with the class.

Keep these papers until the end of the course.


A good summarizing activity at the end of the course is to challenge students to write a 50 word statement of their personal philosophy and share it with other students in the class. It is important to spend time thinking about what is most important since you are limited to 50 words. Describe the process of writing this statement and share your own.

Your personal philosophy is a statement about how you will live the best personal life. It is the roadmap for achieving your goals in life. In writing your personal philosophy, think about what is most important in your life and what you believe is possible. It can include your beliefs, values, attitudes, and hopes for the future. It is your plan for becoming the best you can be. It also includes staying healthy over a lifetime.


This statement is valuable for two reasons:

1. It helps you to deal with changes and challenges in life and to accomplish your goals.

2. It helps you to manage your time and keep yourself moving in the right direction. Ask yourself, "Do my actions in the present moment match my personal philosophy?"


Students can brainstorm the components of a personal philosophy statement. Here are some items to consider in thinking about your personal philosophy: positive thinking, growth mindset, passions, interests, personal strengths, multiple intelligences, self-confidence, life purpose, personal values, lifetime goals, family, friends, achieving happiness in life, staying healthy, honesty, doing good for others, perserving the environment, spirituality.


Here is an example of my personal philosophy of life in 50 words:


I appreciate very day the gifts I have been given, including my intelligences, good health, and family. My purpose is to leave the world and the people in it in better condition because I have existed. I enjoy seeing the world, loving my family, challenging my potential, and facing each day with a positive attitude.


After the personal philosophy exercise, return the one minute papers, "What do you want out of life?" Have students compare this paper with their personal philosophy. It is a good way to measure personal growth.


In a face to face course, students can brainstorm the components of a personal philosophy, write the statement in class (10 minutes), and share their personal statements in small discussion groups or post them in the classroom. Use the Personal Philosophy handout the guide the exercise.


For online students, this can become a discussion question in which students are required to write their own statement and then find another students statement that they like and state what they like about it and offer encouragement to another student.



Motivation Discussion


Ask students to think about a time that they were really motivated to do something.

Give some personal examples:


  • Skiing down a slope with perfect form
  • Planting a beautiful bed of flowers
  • Finishing my doctorate


Ask students to think about a time they were motivated in: 

  • Sports
  • Relationships
  • Being in a challenging situation

What made you motivated in these situations?  Usually students mention some of these elements of motivation:

  • The goals we set for ourselves
  • The value of the activity
  • The habits we establish to make it easier to accomplish goals

Group Activity: What Motivates You in Class?


Use this group activity to help students understand how they can use their own intrinsic motivation to improve their success in college courses.  Have groups of students discuss these questions.


  1. Think of a class where you were very motivated to learn. 
  2. What makes a class motivating?
  3. Describe a class where you were not motivated to learn. 
  4. How can you use your own intrinsic motivation if your instructor does not motivate you to learn?

 Group Activity: Improving Academic Self-perception

 Many times negative experiences in the past interfere with present performance in college.  Students are more likely to be successful if they have a positive view of their ability to succeed in college.  Use these discussion questions to help students re-evaluate their academic self-perceptions:


  1. Recall some of your best experiences in school.  How did these experiences affect your education?
  2. Recall some of your worst experiences in school.  How did these experiences affect your education?
  3. How can you change these negative experiences into positive ones?


Case Studies


There are 2 case studies with scenarios describing students and their feelings on the first day of class.  Break students into small groups and have them discuss one of the case studies.  Share suggestions for helping the students in these scenarios to be successful in college.  Click here to view the Case Studies handout.    


Group Activity: The Successful College Student


Break the students into small groups of five or less.  Have students assume that they are starting their own small business (or their own musical band) and will invest their life savings in the business.  This business is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  They cannot be there all the time so they need to hire an employee to assist.   Have them discuss the question, “What are the qualities of a good employee.”  Have students come up with 5-7 qualities of a good employee.  Appoint a recorder for each group and have this person write the answers on the board.  After all the answers are on the board, state that the qualities of a good employee are also the qualities of a successful college student.  Discuss the answers on the board and relate them to the successful college student.  Use the answers as an introduction to topics to be discussed in the course.  For example, students often say that it is important for their employee to come to work on time.  College students also need to come to class on time.  Time management will be covered in the book. 


Describe Your Educational Journey


Ask students to think about their educational journey by thinking and writing about these questions:

·         Where have you been in the past?

·         Where are you now?

·         Where do you plan to be in the future?

Share answers in a small group.  Instructors may want collect and review the answers to these questions. 


Differences between High School and College


If your class has younger college students or high school students, this discussion might be useful.  State that college offers more freedom and responsibility than high school.  Break your students into small groups and ask them to discuss this question, “What are some new habits that I will need for college (that might be different from high school)?”  Again have the group appoint a reporter to list the group’s most important ideas on the board for discussion.  Click here to view the handout Differences between High School and College.


You can also do a group activity in which you have one group brainstorm the topic "College Life" and another brainstorm the topic, "High School Life."  Compare results.  Detailed instructions, see the High School Vs. College Activity

There is also a handout, What College Instructors Expect from Students.   

 CSI/Locus of Control Scenarios

Students enroll in classes with the expectation that they will pass, but sometimes life intervenes.  This exercise is designed to help students think in advance about their resources, the consequences of their choices, their backup plans, and the back up plans to their back up plans. Students are familiar with the TV show, CSI (Crime Scene Investigation).  Today, you are going to work in teams to look at typical situations that happen to college students. Although each of these could be devastating to academic success, in each case, there are proactive things the student can do in order to survive and thrive.  The first thing your group will do is to sort these scenarios into three categories.  The "suicides" are scenarios where the student's choices might kill his chances for success.  The "homicides" are scenarios where someone else's choices might kill the student's chances for success.  The "accidents" are no-fault scenarios that might kill the student's chances for success.    Then, ask each group to pull out at least one scenario from each category and think of as many potential solutions as possible.  Encourage students to use their syllabus, knowledge of faculty and campus resources, and ingenuity.  See the attached CSI/Locus of Control handout for directions, graphics and scenarios. 

Contributed by Pamela Womack, Paula Khalaf,  and Sharon Miller (Lone Star College System)


Improving Concentration


The chapter on motivation includes ideas on improving concentration.  There a couple of exercises that you can do in class help students become more aware of their concentration and apply techniques to improve it. 


Write the number 1 on the board or in the PowerPoint presentation.  Challenge students to think about the number 1 for 2 minutes.  Tell students to notice when their attention wanders and to gently bring back their concentration back to the number 1.  Step to the back of the room and time the students for 2 minutes.  Here are some questions for discussion:


1.    Two minutes is a long time to concentrate, right?  Concentrating for even two minutes is difficult. 

2.    Where did your mind go when you were trying to concentrate?  Give examples.

3.    If you were successful, what technique did you use?

4.    What are some techniques for improving concentration? 


Click here to view the handout  Where Did Your Mind Go?  Tell students that you are going to test their ability to concentrate.  Select four different times at random during the class and clap your hands three times.  Students are to record on the handout what they were thinking about at the time.  At the end of the class, they evaluate their ability to concentrate and suggest ways to improve concentration.  The textbook has ideas for improving concentration. 


Group Discussion: How Do You Motivate Yourself?


Break the students into small groups.  Have them discuss the question, “How can you motivate yourself when you just don’t feel like doing something?”  For example, you wake up in the morning and are tired and just don’t feel like going to class today.  What do you do to get yourself out of bed and to get going?  Share answers and discuss.


Other topics for discussion include:

§  How can you avoid procrastination?

§  Who is a person who inspires you?

§  Describe your best or worst teacher. 


Think, Pair and Share: How do you motivate yourself?


Pose one of the above questions to the class as a whole and give them 30 seconds to think about their answer.  For example, ask the class, “How do you motivate yourself to come to school or to complete an assignment when you just don’t feel like doing it?”  Tell students to think about their answer and then have them ask a student next to them the same question.  When the discussion has run its course, randomly ask students around the room the answer to the question.  Using a seating chart is a good way to learn names as well as to make sure that you can call on students by name to answer a question.  This is a good technique to use when you look out and see that students are looking tired, bored or not paying attention.  It also helps students who are quiet or lacking confidence to participate, since they have the opportunity to think about the answer before answering. 


Commitments Contract


Have students sign a list of commitments and return them to you.  Attach their signed list of commitments to their first grade report.  Ask students to look at their grade and the list of commitments.  Without naming names, congratulate students with good grades for keeping their commitments.  Tell students if they do not like their grades, to look again at the list of commitments.  This is an opportunity to ask students to see you during office hours if they are having problems.  Suggestions for list of commitments:


1.  Attend every class.

2.  Come to class on time.

3.  Keep assignments up to date.

4.  Ask questions in class.

5.  Contribute to class discussions.

6.  Contact the instructor if there is a problem.

7.  Come to class even if not prepared. 


Discuss the fact that we can make a commitment to attend every class, but may be ill one day.  It is important to stay home and get well, but to return to class as soon as possible.  The idea is to make a commitment and get back on track as soon as possible if you cannot keep the commitments.


The “A” Student Exercise


Tell the students you are working on a design for the “A” student. You need their help in identifying the behavior and attitudes to be built into the “A” student.


Step l.: Ask each student to take a few minutes to list three important behaviors or attitudes that an “A” student would exhibit.


Get students into groups of three to compare lists. After a few minutes to note duplications, ask the groups to add three more attitudes or behaviors.


Each group then calls out its list, while you write it on the board. Proceeding from group to group, weed out repetitions, adding only those items not previously mentioned. After all groups have reported, add to the list any new items that students thought of while the groups were reporting. Mention the fact that research shows that the most important behavior that distinguishes an “A” student is that the “A” student starts early.   Ask the group what it means to start early and include these ideas on the board.  A class usually recommends a final total of 25 to 30 items. 


Step Two: The next step in the “A” student exercise is to discuss which behaviors and attitudes a student has definite control over, and what results a student might get if he or she followed most of the suggestions on the board.  Discuss the idea of locus of control here. 

Step Three: Review the list of “A” student qualities one-by-one, and ask the students to consider which attributes they now have or don’t have. Ask the students to write intention statements describing how they intend to change.  Click here to view the "A" Student Exercise and "A" Student Agreement handouts. 

Step Four:  Save the intention statements from this exercise and distribute them back to students after their mid-term grades are available.  Have students comment on how they have been successful or how they can improve the second half of the semester. 

(from Paul Delys, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA)


Group Projects


Doing group projects helps students to prepare for today’s classrooms and workplaces in which people work together as a group to accomplish a task.  Students can be divided into groups and assigned group presentations on the chapters in the book.  Here are some suggested guidelines for group presentations:

1.    The group is assigned to do an oral presentation that covers the major topics in the chapter. 

2.    The length of the presentation is 35-50 minutes.

3.    The presentation must utilize various learning styles (auditory, visual and kinesthetic).

4.    The group work must be divided evenly among the members.  Each group member must turn in
a paragraph describing the role that he or she played in the group as well as the other students’
roles in the group.

5.    Groups are evaluated by the instructor and the class on the following items:

§  Were the students motivated and interested in the topic?

§  Were the students well prepared and informed on the topic?

§  Did the presentation fit within the time limits of the presentation?

§  Was the material well-presented, clear, interesting and easy to follow?

§  What is your overall assessment of the presentation?


Click here to view handouts on Group Project Objectives and Student Evaluation of Groups.

(From Raad Jerjis, Cuyamaca College, El Cajon, CA)


Five Easy Questions


At the beginning of each class give a short quiz consisting of five easy multiple choice questions on the chapter to be discussed.  The quiz motivates students to come to class on time and to be prepared.  It also encourages them to distribute the practice and avoid last minute procrastination and cramming. It also frees classroom time to do more exercises since students have already read the basic material.  Make grading easy by using quizzes that can be scanned or use WebCt or Blackboard to administer and automatically grade the quizzes.  Information for ordering a bank of test questions is available in the online Faculty Resources page of this site.  

Complete the Journal Entries Before Class Begins


Another way to encourage students to read the assigned chapter before the class begins is to collect the journal entries at the beginning of class.  For the online text, require that the chapter be completed before class begins.  The journals can be viewed in the online student portfolio.  Click here to view the Journal Entries for this chapter. 


 Behaviors Leading to Success


This exercise is included at the end of the first chapter in the printed text.  It is a good introduction to the “How to Change a Habit” assignment.    Click here to view the Behaviors Leading to Success handout. 


How to Change a Habit


This assignment involves changing a simple behavior such as limiting sodas, increasing exercise, or increasing the amount of time studying.  Discuss this exercise in class and assign it as a long-term project that will take at least 2 weeks, since it involves keeping a log of activities.  To make this project successful, limit student projects to those listed on the exercise or ones that you approve.  To make this project more interesting, complete the exercise yourself and share the results with the class.  Remind students that they can get started with a new behavior in 10 days, but it really takes about a month or longer to firmly establish the new behavior.  Students achieve valuable results with this project. 

Click here to view the How to Change a Habit handout. 


Video Suggestion

Climbing Mt. Everest

The video, "Everest" goes well with the Keys to Success in this chapter.  This film has wonderful video of Mt. Everest and mountain climbers talk about their motivation to climb the mountain.  The film features Araceli Segarra, the first Spanish woman to climb Mt. Everest.  She states that she was able to climb the mountain one step at a time.  When she got tired, she would pause and just take 10 more steps.  It is an interesting discussion to compare mountain climbing to college success.  They are both done just one step at a time.  It is also interesting to discuss why the word “almost” is included in this key to success.  Sometimes people need to reevaluate their persistence.  Some of these mountain climbers died trying to climb the mountain.  Also persistence does not work when your goals include other people.   Use about the last 10 minutes of this video.   


Additional Handout 

Ten Habits of Successful College Students


For Online Classes:


Online Discussion Question (Orientation)


Hello from your instructor, Marsha Fralick.  I would like to get to know each of you.  Tell me why you are taking the course and about your educational plans.  Tell me something interesting about yourself too.  Keep it brief.  A few sentences will do. 


Here is a little about myself.  I have been teaching this course since 1978 and I am the author of the textbook, College and Career Success.  Teaching this class is my passion in life.  I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing students succeed in college because I believe that education is powerful.  I have many success stories of students who have taken this class and gone on to finish their degrees and find a great career.  About me personally, I have two adult children.  My son is a Cuyamaca graduate and now has his engineering degree from UCSD.  My daughter is also a Cuyamaca graduate and now has her business degree from SDSU  I am originally from New Mexico and love the wide open spaces and skiing. 


I'm looking forward to having each of you in my online class. 


Press the Reply Button and post your introduction.  In this way, all introductions are “threaded” or connected together so that they are easier to read.  Please do not send your introduction by e-mail. 


Online Discussion Question (Chapter 1)


Welcome students!  This class is especially useful for those of you who want to understand yourself better and choose a major and career that matches your gifts and talents.  If this is your first class in college, you are off to a good start.  If you are a continuing student, you will greatly benefit also.  You will also become familiar with some great new learning tools that will make your future education easier.  It's also great to take this class at your own convenience and save gas money too.  I appreciate your enthusiasm and positive attitude.  I was happy to meet all of you.  Let's get started.


Comment on ONE of these questions:


1.  How do you motivate yourself to be successful?

2.  Are there some new ideas on motivation in Chapter 1 that you find interesting or helpful?

3.  If you are thinking about dropping this class or dropping out of college, how can you motivate yourself to continue?

4.  What are some roadblocks to your success and how can you overcome them?


Online Discussion Question (Motivation)


Here is a link to a Word document with all my online discussion questions: Online Discussion Questions


I was happy to meet all of you.  We have quite a variety of students in this class.  I have two discussion questions for you this week.  Please read Chapter 1: Motivation before you answer these questions. 

1)  I have been told that the dropout rate in online classes is 50%!  That is way too high.  My goal is to help all of you to be successful.  Let's beat the statistics in this class.  Remember in Chapter 1, I told you about my freshman orientation in which the professor said to look to the left and to the right and one student would not be here next semester.  I decided that I would be the one to survive.  Make that decision now that you are the survivor.  The first question is, "How can this class beat the 50% drop out rate for online classes?"


2) Let's say that you have a paper to write and it is worth 30% of your grade.  It is due soon, but you just can't get started on it.  How do you motivate yourself to get this project done?  


Online Assignment


This assignment involves applying the concepts of behavior modification presented in Chapter 1. Use the file, How to Change a Habit which is included with this assignment.  Notice that this project takes 10 days to complete, since there is a 10 day log of what happens each day. To make this project simple, choose a project that you can realistically accomplish. Choose one of these recommended topics: Keep a 10 day log of 1) how much time you study each day 2) how many sodas you drink each day, 3) how many minutes you exercise each day, 4)how many hours you sleep each night, 5)how many fruits and vegetables you eat each day. If you choose a different topic, e-mail me your idea before you begin to make sure it is workable for this project. Submit a word document describing your project and how it worked for you.


See the Resources for Teaching Online Courses on the Faculty Resources page of this site.