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I have read elsewhere that students will only stay in school until they meettheir personal goals. How do we get students to reasses their goals and decide to stay?

Hi Joseph,
Good question, tough to answer. The students do have to internalize the value they are receiving from the instruction they are being offered. Every effort has to be made to help them see the big picture of how they are enrolled in a class that will help them to achieve their life's career goal.
Extensive use of successful graduates as guest speakers and field trips to work sites have helped many students. Also by developing rapport with students instructors can let the students know that they have someone that cares about them and will do everything possible to help them succeed. Encouragement and listening are two very effective tools that can be used as well.

During the introductions in the first class, I ask my students to think about why they chose to be in school and in this particular program. I have them write it down in their daytimers (we provide them at school during the registration process). Then, as we do introductions, I ask them to share the information with the group. In subsequent classes, I talk with my students about whether or not they are seeing any progress and what they think they need to do to stay on track and to meet the goal they stated during the first class.
It seems that verbalizing the goal, and doing so fairly often, keeps them focused.

Hi Laura,
Good ideas about motivating students. Anything instructors can do to encourage students to see themselves, as completers needs to be done. For many of these students this is a major life step that is being made with many uncertainties. If they know the instructor cares and can see progress for themselves then they get excited about staying and progressing.
I have found that seeing successful models (graduates) helps motivate students. I use a number of graduates as resources. Depending on the makeup of the class I invite in a graduate that can relate to this group of students. The graduate speaker lays out how they need to prepare and progress if they want to stand in that person's shoes in the near future. This always generates a lot of interest and discussion.
Another source of motivation is business itself. Human resource personnel can lay out a very clear picture of what they are looking for in potential employees and how students can prepare themselves both in technical and soft skills to be those future employees.
Your idea of individual goal setting is the foundation from which all of these other activities must spring. They must know where they are coming from and where they want to go. It is our job to help them with this journey.
What do you do with students that are reluctant to list goals or what they want out of the program?

I haven't ever had that happen. We start out talking about going places, about maps, and about how it is easy to get lost when you don't know what your destination is. Most of the students know what they eventually want, but need a little help refining their goal. If they can see how each class contributes to getting them closer to where they want to be, they tend to be more motivated, especially in classes that seem dry. We talk about it periodically to reinforce the idea that there are steps one must take in order to achieve a goal, and that if they keep the finish line in sight, they will not wander from the path they chose.

Hi Laura,
You are very fortunate that you have goal specific students in your program. In our Cadre we encounter perspective as well as enrolled students that need support in defining and refining goals. Often the case is that they are enrolled due to some external pressure (family, friends, courts, etc.) and haven't internalized just how the training can make a difference in their lives. I have a training exercise that I take them through to the point they have a clear understanding of their future and how they can plan for it.
Also, the reluctant goal setting students are often afraid to set goals because previously every time they did they failed with the goals. The failure occurred for a variety of reasons, some their fault some not, so they need to be supported in setting new goals that they can achieve. Since many of our clients(students) are coming out of a correctional setting goal setting is even more difficult. We find if we can get the students to set short term objectives, achieve them and them move onto the bigger goals they really start buying into the success factor.
Good luck with your efforts.

I teach small classes and give my students the opportunity to practice their medical terminology on the board, if they choose. Since I started doing this, most of the students take advantage of it. I call out the medical terms and they spell them on the board. I then ask them to break the term apart and explain to the class what they think the word actually means. After a little practice with this method, I then tell them the meaning of the word and they spell it. Example: I call out "inflammation of the liver" and they will spell hepatitis. We have successfully incorporated several new twists to this method and I have been very surprised at how much progress the students are making in my class.

Hi Teresa,
Good ideas about how to help your students to learn medical terms. Something I have used that the students really enjoy is Jeopardy using the same idea as with the writing on the board. I have a PP version that I load on the computer and use with the class. They really get into it and the learning experience is great.

How do we motivate students that are only enrolled in classes to pacify their parole officer? Its hard to stay motivated as an instructor.

Hi Macy,
Great question. I think of this effort as trying to push a rope up hill. Hard to do!
When I have had these types of students I try and develop some rapport with each of them. Try some activities that will engage them in the learning process.
If that doesn't work I have a direct talk with them because they are not going to destroy the atmosphere of the class for others. They attendance and participation is based upon satisfying not only their PO but also me. As a result I expect some cooperation if they are going to remain in the class. It is a tough situation and tough call on how best to work with these students.

By pointing out to the students that as the class has progressed over the past few weeks, a difference in their goals has formed or changed in one way or another. Mainly for the fact of how much they have learned about the course material and themselves in a whole. This teaches them that the more they learn the more they realize how specialized their field of choice is always in motion and always changing reinforcing the need for further learning.

Hi Kristen,
You make a number of very good points about progressive learning. Sometimes it is good for the students to be refreshed on just how far they have progressed and what they have learned.

Snack or a Meal.

Many students may want to take a course so that they can achieve a goal and then decide to leave. They are taking a snack then trying to return to the real world. While that may hold them for a while. I try to encourage students to get a full meal. This enables them to have the skills needed for things they may not have considered. Sticking to the entire program allows them the chance to be a well rounded student. So, when I see a student that has the inclination to sit at the buffet of class information, I make a note to remind them that this is a career and that they will need an assortment of skills that only come by sitting down to a full course meal; take all the classes needed/required.

My goal is to motivate them to achieve higher personal goals...

Like your example and how you unfold it in working with your students. They do need to expand their knowledge and skills and use their potential. The results will be that they are much more fulfilled personally as well as successful in their careers.

Gary Meers, Ed.D.

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