Wednesday, January 22, 2014

For Faculty and Staff: Ten College Classroom Techniques to Empower Student Success

The following materials were presented by this blogger at the WKU 2016 Student Success Symposium. Faculty and staff - to obtain a Word version of this text, please email:

Ten College Classroom Techniques to Empower Student Success

Asst. Prof. Ron A. Rhoades, JD, CFP®, Asst. Professor, Finance Department, Gordon Ford College of Business, Western Kentucky University. You are invited to submit comments, suggestions and ideas to Ron via e-mail: Thank you.

“Our primary job— in whatever academic discipline we have received our training— is to teach the students we find in front of us … If we as professors do not establish a human connection with our students, many of them will get lost in the system and fail to reach their goals. If we … reject them as ‘unprepared for college’ - many of them will not experience the academic transformation for which college is famous.” - Daniel De Roulet and David Pecararo [de Roulet, Daniel; Pecoraro, David (2013-11-23). The Caring Professor: A Guide to Effective, Rewarding, and Rigorous Teaching (Kindle Locations 76-81). Kindle Edition.]

Unprepared Students? – We Determine How We React. Many of our students are unprepared for college. No revelation here! Can we control that? No. What we can control now, however, is how we react to this increased unpreparedness. While insisting on students’ acceptance of personal responsibility, we can also equip them with the skills needed to succeed in college – and in life.

Students’ Foundational Skills: Every Instructor’s Responsibility. The burden of fundamental skills enhancement cannot be placed solely upon the instructors of our general education courses. All of us should seek to emphasize and develop the core skills employers expect of our graduates. We want employers to say, “I love to recruit at WKU, because their students are the best prepared to succeed at our firm.”

The Three “S’s” In Success. Employers yearn for graduates who possess solid written and oral communication skills, who possess the ability to work in teams, who can undertake critical thinking to solve complex problems, and who possess tenacity. To ensure students better achieve these traits and attributes, we can have them conquer the “Three S’s in Success”:

1) we must inspire students to commit and actually undertake self-improvement;

2) all students need to acquire self-confidence: belief in one’s abilities, including the ability to meet and greet others, hold a conversation, network, engage in small talk where appropriate, and establish and maintain meaningful personal and professional relationships with others; and

3) students must gain self-awareness of the most important determinant of success in all aspects of one’s life - self-control – and a related concept – grit.

The Professor as Model. John Gardner wrote, all the way back in 1981, “Students need mentors and facilitators. They need …. authentic professional human beings who are worthy of emulation. They need models who exhibit professional behavior, a sense of commitment and purposefulness, and a sense of autonomy and integrity in a world that generates enormous stress." Gardner, John. “Developing Faculty as Facilitators and Mentors.” In, Haren, V.A. et. al., Facilitating Students’ Career Development, New Directions for Student Services, No. 14. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1981. 

I hope you find useful these ten techniques enclosed, to better empower
you to serve as a facilitator for each student’s success.



#1: Use Praise Correctly to Encourage a Growth Mindset 

#2: Get to Know Your Students via the “Student Questionnaires”


#3:           Teach Students the “Top 10” Skills Employers Seek

#4:           Assign S.M.A.R.T. Goals Adoption by Students


#5:           Students Come to Class Prepared! - Use Class Preparation Assignments

#6:           Give Students Control

#7:           Embrace a Culture of Success in your Class through "Success Tip” Presentations


#8:           "The Three Trials of WKU"

#9:           “Expand Your Comfort Zone” Assignments

#10:        Teach Students to Always “Ooze Confidence”

The brain is malleable. It gets stronger and stronger, and works better, with exercise. Each time students stretch the boundaries of their limits in some way – whether it be through greater self-control, socializing better, or learning something new – the brain forms new connections. In other words, neither students’ intelligence, nor their abilities and thinking skills, are fixed. The question is … do your students take full advantage of this malleability by possessing a growth mindset?

Mindset is the cognitive view that individuals develop for themselves. Students likely possess one of two mindsets: (1) a fixed mindset, in which a student believes that her or his qualities are carved in stone and cannot change; or (2) a growth mindset, in which a student believe that her or his qualities can change and improve through effort.

In writing her book, Mindset – How You Can Fulfill Your Potential (2006), Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University, who created the concept of mindset, studied first year pre-med majors taking their first chemistry class. Students with a growth mindset got higher grades than those with a fixed mindset.  Even when they did not do well on a test, the growth mindset students bounced back on the next test.

While fixed mindset students focused on memorization of terms verbatim, growth mindset students took charge of their motivation and learning, searching for themes and principles in the course. While fixed mindset students upon receiving bad scores just “moved on” (many dropping out of pre-med), growth mindset students went over their mistakes until they understood why they made them. In other words, growth mindset students studied to learn, not just to ace the test.

What is required for a growth mindset? It’s easy for students to withdraw into a fixed mindset when the going gets tough. But as students bump up against obstacles, they need to instead keep growing, work harder, stay the course, improve their learning strategies, and thereby become a more successful student.

What can professors do to encourage a growth mindset in their students? Several strategies are available:

·       Model effective learning by showing the students you love learning too.

o   Bring new material into the classroom each semester.

o   Discuss recent developments and relate them to the material the students study.

o   Try new things (and even, occasionally, tell students you are trying new things).

o   Avoid cynicism.

·       Explain the effort required in a course to succeed in achieving the learning objectives (not the amount of work needed to obtain top grades).

o   Discuss the concepts of “self-control” and “grit.”

o   Explain how much time, on average, students should put into a course, other than in the classroom.

o   Encourage students to review incorrect work. Even to the point of requiring students to re-submit their work.

o   Relate the growth mindset concept. By placing students firmly in a growth mindset, each student can picture his or her brain forming new connections as the challenge is met and the lesson learned. It is this powerful mental imagery that should give many students the drive to persist at what they seek to accomplish.

·       Encourage students positively through praise and constructive criticism, with the goal of assisting the student to grow and learn.

o   Praise has far more impact on student success than negative criticisms. However, praise that focuses on intelligence and personality attributes can be counter-productive. It is far better to praise efforts and achievements. Praise the process, not the innate talent.

o   Create an atmosphere of trust, not judgment.

o   Possess a deep personal commitment to each and every student. Don’t prejudge certain students as failures.

o   Suggest to students that they visualize how they would use the knowledge they have learned in the future.

o   Stress that failure, at times, is inevitable in life. But committing a failed act does not make that person a failure. Relate to students that most of the great achievements in the world come from those who have overcome failures and obstacles. Failure should be embraced and encouraged and not discouraged and frowned upon – because failure is the beginning of new learning.

o   Encourage belief in self. Students do their best when they think they can do it, and they fail when they think they cannot. And, stress that you believe in each student – they made it here to Western Kentucky University, and with effort and grit each and every one can succeed.

o   Convey the message: “You are a developing person and I am interested in your development.”

·       Set high standards.

o   Let students know what you expect.

o   Tell students you expect their best effort.

o   Adhere to those standards.

Examples of Growth Mindset Praise. (Sources: Dweck, Mindsets, 2006, p.177-178, and

Studies have shown that praise is much more powerful to instill change in a student than criticism or correction. This is true even when a student sees the instructor praise another student.

But praise must be undertaken correctly. How we talk to our students about their performances and work products affects their mindsets. Feedback for intelligence increases fixed mindset thinking; feedback for effort and strategies decreases it.


ü  Notice students' good efforts and strategies and praise them.

ü  Be specific about the praised behaviors and reinforce this behavior with your feedback.

ü  Use praise to link the outcomes of an assignment to students' efforts.

ü  Talk explicitly and in detail about the strategies a student has used.

ü  Comment on which strategies were helpful, and which were not.

ü  Ask a student to explain his or her work to you.


  • Don't offer praise for trivial accomplishments or weak efforts.
  • Don't inflate praise, particularly for students with low self-esteem.
  • Don't let a student feel ashamed of learning difficulties. Instead, treat each challenge as an opportunity for learning.
  • Don't ever say, "You are so smart." in response to good work. Instead, praise the work a student has done (e.g., "Your argument is very clear" or "Your work is very accurate").
  • Don't comfort students following a failure by telling them that not everyone can be good at everything.

We can praise them [students] as much as we want for the growth-orientated process – what they accomplished through practice, study, persistence, and good strategies. And we can ask them about their work in a way that admires and appreciates their efforts and choices. Here are some examples of praise that serves to enhance the growth mindset:

Ø  “You really studied for your test and your improvement shows it. You read the material over several times, you outlined it and you tested yourself on it. It really worked!”

Ø  “I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that algebra problem until you finally got it.  You thought of a lot of different ways to do it and found the one that worked!”

Ø  “I like that you took on that challenging project for your engineering class. It will take a lot of work – doing the research, designing the apparatus, buying the parts and building it. Boy, you’re going to learn a lot of great things.”

Ø  “I know school/college used to be easy for you and you used to feel like the smart kid all the time. But the truth is that you weren’t using your brain to the fullest. I’m really excited about how you’re stretching yourself now and working to learn hard things.”

Ø  “That assignment was so long and involved. I really admire the way you concentrated and finished it.”

Ø  “You put so much thought and creativity into this essay. It really makes me understand this concept in a new way.”

What about a student that worked hard and didn’t do well?

Ø  “I liked the effort you put in, but let’s work together some more and figure out what it is you don’t understand.”

Ø  “We all have different learning curves. It may take more time for you to catch on to this and be comfortable with this material, but if you keep at it like this you will.”

Ø  “Everyone learns in a different way. Let’s keep trying to find the way that works for you.”

Dweck (2006, p.7) states that: “...a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable) … it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.”

Provide each student a questionnaire to complete at the beginning of each semester.

One use of the form is to identify students who, due to social anxiety, are reluctant to speak up in class. It is then possible to approach these students during a class, requesting that they be prepared to respond to a specific question during the next class. By giving the student a “heads up” as to what you will be asking, she or he can prepare to give their answer. Thereafter, as the student continues to practice such interactions, you can work toward calling upon them during the same class (after giving the student a heads up), and thereafter at any time during class.

By asking for student’s cell phone or text numbers, you can “nudge” them if they miss a class, or otherwise reach out to them quicker if they miss multiple classes or if you notice any behaviors indicative of a possible problem. Students respond well to such interactions, because they know you care.

Certain questions below set expectations for students’ commitments to getting the work done and otherwise set the stage for students’ assumption of responsibility. Other questions serve as a basis for the establishment of self-improvement goals relating to core skills.

You can also identify students who may be involved in NCAA or other sporting activities, or who possess work commitments, either of which might challenge their ability to either attend every class or devote sufficient time to their studies. It is best to know these facts in advance – not to provide the student with an excuse, but so that you might suggest a student work ahead on assignments, at appropriate times.

Following are suggested questions. I prefer to place these questions into a column in a MS Excel document. Students answer in the second column; this enables me to cut and paste their responses into one master spreadsheet, for each class, that I can then refer to throughout the semester.

  1. Your Preferred Nickname:
  2. Your name (First, Middle Initial, Last):
  3. Your Cell Phone Number and/or your Text Number (if different):
  4. What is your date of birth?
  5. What is the name of your hometown? (City and State)
  6. What is your major?
  7. Who is your academic advisor?
  8. What is your current cumulative GPA?
  9. How many credit hours have you earned?
  10. How many credit hours are you taking this semester?
  11. What is your goal for your semester GPA for this upcoming semester?
  12. What is your goal for your cumulative GPA for "classes in your major"?
  13. Do you intend to pursue any graduate-level education (Master’s, Doctorate, etc.)?  If yes, what types of degrees or programs are you considering?
  14. What career paths most appeal to you?  (Describe career or position; you may indicate more than one of current interest to you.)
  15. Do you have an internship scheduled already?  If so, with who (Name of firm, city, state)?
  16. Do you have any permanent jobs lined up for post-graduation?  If so, with who (Position title, name of firm, city, state, start date)?
  17. What campus sports, if any, are you involved in?  Do you have any time commitments with those sports that might interfere with your ability to attend any class this semester?
  18. Are you working now?  If so, where, and how many hours (on average) each week?
  19. What other campus organizations are you involved in? (List all, and describe level of your involvement – heavy, moderate, light – and list any positions you hold in such organizations)
  20. Is there anything that may prevent you for attending class and being present on time at the beginning of each class session? If “yes,” please explain.
  21. Is there anything that may prevent you from achieving an adequate amount of sleep (“9 hours 15 minutes … need I say more”) in order that you are fully awake and not drowsy during class – in order that you can learn with maximum effectiveness?
  22. Do you need to sit anywhere in particular in the class?
  23. Is there anything that would prevent you from successful interactive discussions in class, working in groups, team presentations, and individual presentations, of which I should be aware?
  24. Is there anything else that might impair your ability to undertake the coursework in this class – including an average of two hours of outside work for each classroom hour, of which I should be aware?
  25. What are your personal goals for this class? What do you expect to learn and do in this class?
  26. Please describe any expectations you possess of Dr. Rhoades, your professor in this class:
  27. Please describe your greatest fear at present. How are you doing, in terms of addressing or dealing with that fear?
  28. How are you feeling about this class at this moment?
  29. How are you feeling about Western Kentucky University at this moment?
  30. Please self-assess yourself on the following skills that employers most look for in college graduates (per survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges & Employers, 2015):

Above Average
Below Average

1. The ability to work in a team structure

2. The ability to make decisions and solve problems

3. The ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization

4. The ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work

5. The ability to obtain and process information

6. The ability to analyze quantitative data

7. Technical knowledge related to your future career

8. Proficiency with computer software programs

9. The ability to create and/or edit written reports

10. The ability to sell or influence others

While students may think that choosing the “right” major is the key to getting a good job, an individual’s long-term professional success will depend far more on acquiring the right skills for a rapidly changing workplace.

Near the beginning of a semester, share with your students: “What do employers look for today?”  You can then explain how the course content and instructional techniques relate to the acquisition of these all-important skills.

While the Student Questionnaire has a listing of the “top ten” skills, here’s a slightly different list you could also employ:

1.     The ability to work well in teams—especially with people different from yourself.

2.     An understanding of science and technology and how these subjects are used in real-world settings.

3.     The ability to write and speak well.

4.     The ability to think clearly about complex problems.

5.     The ability to analyze a problem to develop workable solutions.

6.     An understanding of global context in which work is now done.

7.     The ability to be creative and innovative in solving problems.

8.     The ability to apply knowledge and skills in new settings.

9.     The ability to understand numbers and statistics.

10.  A strong sense of ethics and integrity.

-        This list derived from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (2013)

Suggested explanation to students:

The good news for graduates … no matter what you have studied in school – whether business, engineering, computer science, or any other major – you will receive instruction in these skills. The survey results shown above make it clear that employers want universal skills you can learn across academic disciplines and in any job where you are working with others.

While you are still in college, work on enhancing these skills – in the classroom, and through participation in other activities. Commit yourself to working on enhancing one of these skills, each and every day.

Once you acquire these skills, the trick is to communicate clearly that you have those skills. You can demonstrate that you have those skills through your cover letter, résumé and interview. For example, think about class projects where you have been a team member or leader and jobs where you have had to plan and prioritize. Describe those skills specifically in your résumé or cover letter.

Strategy #4: Encourage S.M.A.R.T. Goals Adoption by Students

What are “S.M.A.R.T. Goals”?

Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

            Who:           Who is involved?

What:          What do I want to accomplish?

Where:        Identify a location.

When:         Establish a time frame.

Which:        Identify requirements and constraints.

Why:           Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

For example, a general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “Work out 3 days a week at Orvis Gym, and eat healthier meals, to lose 1 pound a week for each of the next 10 weeks and to feel better about myself.”

Measurable: Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as … How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable / Achievable: When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

Realistic: To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.

Timely: A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

Following is a form which students can utilize in establishing S.M.A.R.T. Goals.


§ These are my S.M.A.R.T. Goals to propel me to a higher level of success this semester. 

    S: Specific; M: Measurable; A: Achievable; R: Realistic; T: Time-Limited.

§ I have made a personal commitment to achieve these goals. I will concentrate on only 3-5 goals each week. I will schedule times on my calendar to accomplish these goals.

§ Each Sunday evening at 8:00 p.m. (which time will be triggered by an alarm on my smart phone) I will track (and record) my accomplishments on this sheet, and I will then establish times for accomplishing goals for the following week.

MY S.M.A.R.T. ACADEMIC GOALS                                                                      
I will achieve an average G.P.A. of _________ in all of my classes this term.                            
I will attend 90% or more of my classes this term. I will start off strong and attend all of my classes for the first five weeks, just in case illness or another reason causes me to miss a class.                     
I will be an active participant in class discussions, at least ____ out of ____ classes each week.                       
I will do all of my (algebra, etc.) homework in the Math Lab.                                    
I will go to the Writing Center to have a draft of my essays reviewed, at least two days prior to when the essay is due.                       
I will request a tutor or another form of assistance for a specific class or classes (or  add: if & when my average in a class falls below the G.P.A. goal I set for myself)                   
I will meet with my academic advisor for assistance with time management or study strategies by ______ (date)                   

MY S.M.A.R.T. SELF-CONTROL GOALS                                                      
I accept personal responsibility for my own success this term.                                
“9 hours 15 minutes” – I will consistently seek to attain sufficient sleep each night this term, as I may require, to not be drowsy in classes. I will set an alarm on my phone to remind me to prepare to go to bed                                    I will record my progress as to this goal, and record how I physically feel, through reflection in my journal, once each week.                                   
I will plan out each week, using an hour-by-hour calendar, in order to attain 2-3 hours of study time, on average, for each hour I spend in the classroom.                   
If I have difficulty starting a project or activity, I will say out loud to myself: “Just do it! Do it, do it, do it! Do it NOW!”
I will spend < 10 hours each week watching television, playing video or computer games, and posting to Facebook.                          

I will smile at all times, every day, when walking between classes and especially when entering a room.                               
I will greet others (including those I don’t yet know) on campus with a “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” “Good evening,” “Hi,” or “How you doing?”                         
I will introduce myself three times each week to a student or other person I don’t know, and get to know them better (i.e., I will practice this essential skill). If I am “rejected,” I will move on. Because there are plenty of people in this world who deserve to be part of my universe.                  
I will join and actively participate in the following NCAA sports, intramural sports, clubs and/or organizations this term (at least one of which will require some form of civic engagement): .…                 
I will attend the following events / activities on-campus this term: ….               
I will write in my own journal twice a week to record people and events and other things for which I am grateful. I will schedule the times to write by setting an alarm.                        
I will perform 3 random acts of kindness each week, & record them in my Journal.                        
If I choose to go to parties or other places where alcohol may be served, I will go with a group, and at least one of my friends will be the “Designated Friend” (who will not drink and who will assume responsibility for watching over me, should I inadvertently drink to excess and possess impaired judgment).                            

I will meet with Professor ____________________ by (date) for ideas relating to networking and finding a position within my chosen career                                     
I will prepare a draft of my résumé and have it reviewed by (person/date)                     
I will identify gaps in my résumé (such as lack of work experience, indications of leadership, involvement in community service projects and/or campus organizations) and formulate a plan with S.M.A.R.T. Goals to fill those gaps.                          
I will develop and maintain a list of potential contacts who may be in a position to land me a good position within my chosen career area.                                 
I will write and mail/deliver thank-you notes 3 times a week to new and existing contacts, family members, friends, and those who have done a service for me.                       
I will practice “networking” in the following manner ….                         
I will attend the following industry (luncheon, symposium, conference, etc.)                  

Strategy #5: Class Preparation Assignments

We have all struggled with students who come to class unprepared. What if there was a way to ensure that students were prepared – 90% of the time? … There is! It is called “Class Preparation Assignments.”

Simply put, a Class Preparation Assignment (CPA) is a series of questions students must submit, prior to the class discussion. Questions are usually open-ended, and students are required to answer the question in their own words. Usually 5-15 questions are provided in each CPA. Students submit their answers via Blackboard.

Each CPA is reviewed to ascertain if the student made a “good faith effort” to complete the questions posed. A “good faith” effort requires: (1) the student spent time answering all of the questions; (2) the questions are answered in their own words – as if they were explaining the answer to another student. I point out that answers copied from Wikipedia or other sources often don’t reflect the readings, and hence automatically result in a “not in good faith” effort. I also turn on the “SafeAssign” plagiarism tool in Blackboard.

I find that it takes me about 30 seconds to review each CPA, on average. I spend a bit more time at the beginning of the semester, making comments when a student’s CPA could be better, and (more importantly) providing praise for good submissions.

In the Fall 2015 semester, I graded CPAs apart from other assessments (i.e., you must complete, in good faith, ____ of ____ CPAs to receive an “A” in this course), and required class attendance to secure credit for a CPA. [See, e.g., syllabus at] However, I received a lot of negative feedback from students on this grading methodology – they found the grading methodology confusing, believed that the CPAs involved a lot of work for which they did not receive adequate credit, and they were critical when they had to miss class for an (apparently good) last minute reason when they had already submitted their CPA – but because they missed class they didn’t receive credit for the CPA. Hence, I am now moving to grading CPAs as part of the total assessments in the course. For example, each CPA might be 1% of a student’s final grade. 15-30 CPAs might be assigned in any semester, for a 3-credit course.

At the commencement of each class session, the CPA assigned is reviewed in small groups of 2-5 students. Students contrast and compare their answers with each other. As I walk around, I emphasize to students that they should be able to answer the question as if they were the professor … i.e., by answering in their own words, demonstrating full understanding of the concept. After the groups review the questions, I then call upon students, who provide their verbal answer to the CPAs (without looking at their written answer). Other students may then comment on the answers provided. As time permits, additional hypotheticals or other questions are posed, to illustrate concepts found in the CPAs.

Following a part-semester pilot in Spring 2015, during the Fall 2015 semester I fully implemented “Class Preparation Assignments” in my classes – with dramatic results. Students were much better prepared for class, and more time was available for class discussion. Following are several of the comments students provided:

·       “The CPA's have been really helpful. They have really made me think and prepare for the classes. Preparing for the classes has been a lot better for this class rather than coming in and lecturing because he goes straight to the point.”

·       “I felt like I have learned a great amount of material. Going into the exams I do not feel like I am cramming to learn the material right before the exam, but I have been well prepared for the exam through the course work.”

·       “[T]he amount of work required to put into this class made you fully understand each and every concept.”

·       “This is the first class in which I have experienced Class Preparation Assignments. I enjoy knowing what is expected of us before we've entered class as well as being able to participate in discussions and get questions answered.”

·       “I've actually come to enjoy the CPAs. Although sometimes they are quite time consuming, preparing for class prior to meeting has been helpful in reinforcing the material, which is often challenging.”
On the first day of class, to get more “buy-in” to the CPAs, I show this short video:

YouTube: “CPA: Class Preparation Assignments” by powjiber

Here is a sampling of the research regarding Class Preparation Assignments:

1.     Bob Gillette, Ph.D. and Lynn Gillette, Ph.D., “How to Get Your Students to Come to Class Prepared.” FacultyFocus, Feb. 16, 2016. Available at

2.     Lynn Gillette and Kathryn Davis, and Bob Gillette, “How to Ensure that Students Prepare for Class So That Class Time Can Be Used for Deep Learning,” 32nd Lilly International Conference on College Teaching (Nov. 16, 2012) (available on the web).

3.     Kathryn Simons Davis and J. Roberta Minifie, “Ensuring Gen Y Students Come Prepared for Class; then Leveraging Active Learning Techniques to Most Effectively Engage Them,” American Journal of Business and Management Vol. 2, No. 1, 2013, 13-19; DOI: 10.11634/216796061302228.

Following are the instructions provided to students on the “study methodology” recommended for my courses, which includes how and when to complete Class Preparation Assignments:


Q: What are Class Preparation Assignments (CPAs)?

This is a series of steps you undertake, prior to class, to prepare for the class discussion.

Some of these steps involving reading assignments, accompanied by informal writing assignments consisting of 5 to 15 questions. These questions require you to state the answer in your own words.

The CPA questions serve as a guide to you in your reading, prepare you for the next class session, and provide a basis for interactive class discussions.

Q. How are the Class Preparation Assignments (CPAs) Graded?

The CPAs are graded pass-fail only. You submit your CPA answers via Blackboard, prior to the start of class.. To earn credit for a CPA, you need to show a good faith effort on your answers to each question.

What is a “good faith” effort?

                  You attempt to answer all of the questions.

Your answers are in your own words. You don’t just copy definitions or answers from the textbook, or from the web or other sources.

The majority of your answers are correct.

Your answers are in your own words. You don’t copy another person’s answers.

I don’t seek perfection, but I do seek a good faith effort.

Each CPA that “passes” receives 10 points, which is approximately equal to 1% of your final grade. (Depending on the actual assignments undertaken, as the class progresses, each CPA may be worth more or less, as a percentage of your final grade.)

Each CPA that “fails” receives 0 points. I do not provide partial credit.

There will be approximately ___ CPAs this semester. Collectively they form a substantial part of your final grade in this course.
Q. How important are the CPAs?

First, they form, collectively, a significant portion of your final grade.

Second, they serve as the basis for the majority of the questions posed on the exams in this course, which together form a substantial portion of your final grade.

Third, your completion of the CPAs empowers you to participate in class discussions, which also forms a significant part of your final grade.

Fourth, if you complete your Class Preparation Assignment using the correct method (as described below), you will better commit the material to your long-term memory – vital for you to be able to spot issues in future months and years.

Q: Why do we do CPAs?

It is part of the learning methodology for the material we cover in this course. Much of what you have been taught about learning – such as reading and highlighting, then re-reading, has been shown to be not very effective. And, “cramming” before an exam rarely leads to long-term memory of the concepts learned.

CPAs are a better, more time-efficient method to learn the material. And, if you undertake the learning methodology correctly, you will reap the benefits for years to come.

Lastly, this is the best method to ensure that you come prepared to class. This, in turn, fosters more meaningful review of the material during class discussions. And – it’s much better than sitting through another hour-long PowerPoint lecture! (Although, at times, there may be a few of those in this course, for certain material is best covered in this manner.)

Q: What is the Learning Methodology for the material?

What does empower learning? Working with the material. This follows a process, designed to empower you to learn better – and faster.


1.     Review the list of “Learning Objectives” and “Terms and Concepts” set forth at the commencement of each chapter. As you review the terms and concepts, seek to define in your own words the terms that you already know (or suspect that you know). Make a mental note of the terminology with which you are not yet familiar. This is called “generation” – it prepares you for the reading.

2.     Then preview the assigned readings. Leaf through the assigned readings, concentrating on obtaining a “big picture” view of the material. If a concept map of the material is supplied, review the concept map. This provides the beginnings of a mental structure upon which more focused learning of concepts or terms can then be placed.

3.     Then read the assigned pages of the textbook, and/or other readings supplied. As you read, pause at the end of each section to reflect on what you have learned. And, if you encountered a new term or concept, at the end of each section ascertain if you can you explain the term or concept in your own words. If you cannot, go back and re-read that section, then practice until you can.

4.     Then, sleep on it. And make certain you get a good night’s sleep. (High school and college students typically require a hour-and-a-half more sleep than the typical adult. While adults may do well with 7-8 hours of sleep, most college students need 8-9.5 hours of sleep.) With adequate and proper sleep, you commit some of what you have learned to the centers of your brain in which longer-term memories are formed.

5.     On the next day, review and answer the “Class Preparation Assignment” questions. Answer these questions in your own words – don’t just copy the answer from the materials. If you don’t understand the concept, or if you can’t express the concept yet in your own words (as if you were teaching the material to another person), go back and study the material some more. Upload your answers to Blackboard.

6.     Then, sleep on the material, again. With another good night’s sleep, your brain has the opportunity to again transfer the learned material into your long-term memory sections of your brain, and to make connections.


7.     Print out your Class Preparation Assignment and bring it to class. While you can also access the CPA on your device (computer, tablet, etc.), having a printed copy allows you to scratch notes easier. Additionally, studies have shown that modifying text electronically does not lead to the most effective learning, in compared to having a printed text.

8.     Prior to class, review your Class Preparation Assignment. Can you verbally express your answer to the question posed, without looking at your written document? Make certain you can express your answer, verbally and without looking at your textbook or the CPAs or other sources, in your own words, prior to the start of class.

9.     We will form groups of three to five students to review the answers to the CPAs. Members of the group should take turns expressing your answers to the CPA questions. The other members of the group should compare what they wrote, and then add to the discussion. The goal is that EVERY member of the group have what the group believes is the correct answer. (As your professor walks around the class, you may ask him for clarification, when the group is confused about an answer.) Another goal is that EVERY member of the group is able to express their answer, in their own words, and without looking at their materials, when called upon.

10.  Then, the entire class discusses the material. Typically, the professor calls upon a student, requesting her or his verbal answers – without looking at the material. Other students may then seek clarification, express a different viewpoint (when appropriate), or otherwise comment or ask questions. As this class discussion occurs, write down any insights you glean from the class discussion, by adding to your CPA answers. Just scratch out your observations (don’t try to use complete sentences).


11.  After class, review the CPA answers, as discussed in class. If answers to the CPA questions are provided by your professor (via Blackboard under “Assignments” tab, posted only following class), also review these answers. Update your typed CPA submission, and save to your computer or other device.

12.  Then, again, get a good night’s sleep. Without a good night’s sleep, following the class discussion, many of the insights you gained from class will not find their way into long-term memory retention.

If we are to truly foster our students’ skill sets, we need them to take control over their own learning and foster their interactions with each other and build up their self-confidence in social interactions. And, one way to foster this is to change the classroom dynamic to a learner-centered classroom. To a degree, this means giving up “control.”

To better convey the concepts behind the instructor as “skills and learning facilitator” rather than “content provider,” I provide some excerpts from one of my favorite texts.

“[A] wise teacher makes the point this way: ‘I’ve come to realize that it is not so much what students know but what they can do. Likewise, teaching is not about what I know but what I enable others to do.’ (Phelps, 2008, p. 2).”
Weimer, Maryellen (2013-01-28). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice (p. 7). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

“[Students] needed to find their way past self-doubt, awkwardness, and the fear of failure to a place where they could ask a question in class, make a contribution in a group, and speak coherently in front of peers. It came to me that I might address the problem by giving the students a greater sense of control. What if I presented them with some choices and let them make some of the decisions about their learning?”

Weimer, Maryellen (2013-01-28). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice (p. 5). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

“The goal of learner-centered teaching is the development of students as autonomous, self-directed, and self-regulating learners … Learner-centered courses still contain plenty of content, but teachers use the content instead of covering it. They use it as they always have— to develop a knowledge base— but they also use content to develop the learning skills students will need across a lifetime of learning.

Weimer, Maryellen (2013-01-28). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice (pp. 10-1). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

“[L]earner-centered teaching is more difficult because it is much less scripted. You don’t go to a classroom or online with a carefully prepared lecture— one with all the examples, transitions, questions (maybe even answers), links to previous material, sample problems ready to go on visually impressive PowerPoint slides. You go well prepared with a repertoire of material at your disposal— you have a carefully packed tool box, and, like any expert working on location, you know what you’ll need most of the time. Even so, chances are that some days you won’t have everything you need. In this case, you trust your experience with the content, with learning, and with
students.” Weimer, Maryellen (2013-01-28). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice (pp. 12-13). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

[The Theories Behind Learner-Centered Teaching.] “1. It is teaching that engages students in the hard, messy work of learning. 2. It is teaching that motivates and empowers students by giving them some control over learning processes. 3. It is teaching that encourages collaboration, acknowledging the classroom (be it virtual or real) as a community where everyone shares the learning
. 4. It is teaching that promotes students’ reflection about what they are learning and how they are learning it. 5. It is teaching that includes explicit learning skills instruction.”

Weimer, Maryellen (2013-01-28). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice (p. 15). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

Beyond the foregoing principles are some practical applications. While Maryellen Weimer shares deep insights into many specific techniques, here are two techniques I am in the process of trying:

(1)   Give the students some control over the assignments they undertake. I desire all of my students to complete the Class Preparation Assignments, write an essay, and give a verbal presentation. However, I provide them a choice of assignments to complete. For example, I have designed part of my syllabus in this manner:


This course is taught at a level in which junior-level collegiate work is expected.

In this course, assignments are handled differently. Some assignments are mandatory and form part of your final grade. For other “optional” assignments, you select the work you will complete from a list of options, hopefully sufficient to result in the maximum number of points available.

The details of each assignment will be set forth in Blackboard, under the “Assignments” tab. A summary of many of the assignments is provided on the pages that follow.

Points are earned in this course as follows  (set forth assignments, indicate which are mandatory, and which are optional, perhaps in "Groups" of assignments)
You may choose to do all of the optional assignments, or only some of them, as you desire. However, the maximum points for each group of optional assignments are shown above.

Please be aware that any extra points earned, above the maximum amount of points shown above, for “Group A” optional assignments, cannot be applied to “Group B” optional assignments – and vice versa. Nor can any extra points above the maximum shown above for either Group A or B optional assignments be applied to the points in the Mandatory Assignments category.

(2)  For the first class, require each student to bring to class ONE QUESTION about the Syllabus. (You might require students to submit the questions via Blackboard.)

Inevitably, one of the questions will be: “Do we have to take the final exam?” My response will be, “You are permitted, under the syllabus, to choose a number of assignments to obtain your maximum points for Group B activities, which includes the exams. If you complete and receive a high score on the first two exams and other Group B activities (one of which requires a group concept map of the entire course content), then you will not need to take the final exam.”

The theory behind giving students control over what assessments they undertake is that they feel empowered, and more motivated, to complete the assignments they do undertake.

As you can see, I have not given up “total control” – as Maryellen Weimer suggests, give up control in your classrooms a bit each semester, test out the results, and then proceed to give up more control if you are comfortable with it.

Strategy #7: Embrace a Culture of Success in your Class through "Success Tip Presentations

Recognizing that our communications are part of the way we deposit ourselves (and the culture we seek to create) into the minds of our students, one part of maintaining and enhancing a culture of success in your class can be found in your communications to our students. These communications can include slogans and inspirational phrases. If “success tips” are provided in many of your classes, and if students write them down and later in the semester submit a short essay describing which, if any, of the success tips, were impactful upon them, students’ perceptions and attitudes can often change for the positive.

Do such slogans and motivational phrases make a difference?  They absolutely can!  Here are just two student comments regarding the “success tips” from last year:

§  “I really loved the success tips. To me this shows the professor really cares about the students being successful – not just in this class but in life.”

§   “Thank you for pushing me outside my comfort zone.”

Success Tips can be provided by the instructor of any course, either during each class or weekly.

I used to think that by spending just a couple of minutes in each class, conveying success tips to my students, that I was most effective. And then I tried something else … I wanted to have my students gain more experience in providing individual presentations to groups, so I required each student to give a success tip (or “daily affirmation statement”) instead. AND THE RESULT WAS INCREDIBLE. The students related to the challenges felt by other students, and the success tips become more meaningful – and more instructive. (This was a bit of a blow to my ego, as a professor ... that even though my presentation of success tips was impactful, students' presentations of their own success tips were far more impactful on other students.)

Now I provide each student the assignment of uncovering a success tip (or motivational statement) that has personal meaning to her or him. The student can then verbally present the success tip at the beginning of a class session (with or without visual aids), explain how the success tip might be applied in everyday life, and provide an example of its application. In other words, I ask that each student provide one or more stories about the success tip – why they adopted it, how it influenced their life, etc.

I provide instruction at the beginning of each semester on the importance of eye contact, proper use of hands, proper posture, and good voice and diction. I also show a short video of Tony Robbins speaking, and note his use of walking around the stage (and stopping when making a point), as a model of a good public speaker.

In order for success tips to have greater impact on students, I require students to write down each success tip on a sheet of paper provided for that purpose. Students might then be asked to write a short essay, during an assessment near the end of the course, in which they select one or more of the success tips and explain how the success tip changed them in some positive manner. Additionally, students may provide written critiques (via Blackboard, to the professor) on another student’s presentation, which I then accumulate, edit and convey (without the names of the students who provided critiques) to the student who presented when awarding their grade and conveying my own assessment of their presentation.

The fact that success tips might be repeated in two or more courses is not a disadvantage. Rather, through such repetition, accompanied by variations in explaining the importance of the success tip or describing situations in which the success tip might be applied, students are more likely to incorporate the success tip as a habit.

It can also be suggested to students that they identify and write down three success tips, and post these tips above their place of study, or residence. The power of “daily affirmations” can then be explored.

Following are the Success Tips rated “most impactful” by my students in prior years, together with text (and links to videos or other resources).

·       “I am a WKU scholar, motivated to succeed. I am part of a diverse, caring community of scholars.”

Having students repeat this phrase helps them to realize that scholarship is a part of their life. It inspires many students to view themselves differently, and propels them to act as a result.

Create the image your students should be, and they will more likely achieve that image. 
·       “Self-Control: The Most Important Determinant of Success”

The concept of “self-control” can be explained through this 10-minute video: “Sesame Street Tells You How to Get to Sunnier Days Financially” – located at   

More recently, a TedX talk by Angela Lee Duckworth, “Grit – The Key to Success,” illuminates the importance of grit (i.e., perseverance and determination) in this 6-minute video:

·       “9 hours 15 minutes”

What Can Sleep Do for You in College? With adequate sleep, you will feel energized and focused.  Your grades will improve.  You will be more vibrant and alive.  You'll smile more.  More people will say about you, "Wow, I'd really like to get to know that person."  You'll even secure more dates!

The Dire Consequences of Insufficient Sleep. Sleep is an important key to health, wellness, cell growth, memory formation, mental agility, physical performance, and peace of mind.  You name it and sleep can improve it. Insufficient sleep can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences for themselves and others around them. For example, an estimated 20% of vehicle crashes are linked to drowsy driving.

Short sleep duration is associated with various adverse health effects (e.g., cardiovascular disease or obesity), decreased workplace and public safety, and impaired job performance.  Being drowsy during a job interview will usually result in a short interview.  And, of course, appearing drowsy during a conference with a prospective client, or at a networking event, can easily convey the wrong impression concerning you and your abilities.

How Much Sleep Does a College Student Need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults sleep 7–9 hours per day. For college students the recommended amount of sleep is 9 hours 15 minutes for the average college student, to be fully engaged in all of your classes, and for maximum learning.  (Most college students possess overconfidence in their abilities, and hence substantially underestimate how much sleep they require.)

Yet, 30% of civilian employed U.S. adults (approximately 40.6 million workers) reported an average sleep duration of less than or equal to only 6 hours per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Sleep Advice from WKU Students.  Here is some advice from your fellow students about getting enough sleep:

·       “While it may sound self-explanatory, in our freshman year it took some of us some time to realize that he or she needed to get a good night’s sleep.  Once one’s sleep each night increased, so did one’s GPA.”

·       “Regardless of how much you might personally need, you will have a hard time concentrating in class – and learning – if you are drowsy.  Also, your ability to retain facts in memory is greatly enhanced when you get enough sleep.”

·       “If you get plenty of rest, you will have more energy to make it to every class on time, and to do all of the readings and assignments.”

In Conclusion.  To manage all your time better, get more sleep.  More sleep will also lead to you being nicer, more attractive, and generally more awesome.  And yes, more sleep can even lead to greater socialization.  Better grades is just an added bonus

Additional Resource: Dr. James Maas, The Power of Sleep.  Watch this 28-minute video: Shorter videos on this subject are available on the web.

·        “Ooze Confidence”  (And if you are not confident … fake it!)

“Fake it till you make it” is not about faking happiness until you trick yourself into being happy. It’s not about acting like you’re too cool for school until other people also believe you are, and then basing your life around a made-up personality. It’s about confidence. It’s about meeting situations that you feel intimidated by head-on, telling yourself that you’re ready for them, and putting “I-can-DO-this” intentions out there, until you’ve done such a good job convincing yourself that you suddenly can handle the challenge before you.  Appear confident, in everything you do.  And if you are not – fake it!  (By appearing to act confident, those around you don’t know of your insecurities – and it actually trains your mind to think confidently!).

Some YouTube videos which explore the concept of “self-confidence” further:

“How to Build Your Self-Confidence” – Daily Idea - (3:12)  (Walk 25% faster. Stand up straight.  Complement others.  Speak up at least once in each group discussion.  Make time to work out.)

“The Big Bang Theory – Confident Leonard” (0:52) (humor)

Inspirational Video – “Believe in yourself” (Britain’s Got Talent) (3:02)

·       “Don’t Lie Down with Dogs – You’ll Get Up with Fleas”

If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas, or in Latin, qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent.

"He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas" has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack. The quote has a large almost universally agreed meaning of "You should be cautious of the company you keep. Associating with those of low reputation may not only lower your own but also lead you astray by the faulty assumptions, premises and data of the unscrupulous."

Your income is destined to become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.  But it got worse.  Your weight is destined to become the average of the five people you’re around most. Your habits (smoking, drinking, etc.) will correlate with those folks. Your level of marital satisfaction, of outside friendship, of ability to play the 1990s video game Street Fighter? All are tied to some degree to those of your peers.  See Greg Reid’s YouTube Video: (2:23).  Also see College Success Series by Pedro De Abreu: “Who do you hang out with” (7:30).   Remember - love your family and friends – but choose your peer group.

·       “If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

Key words of wisdom from one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time.

It takes “self-control” – making a sacrifice today in order to obtain a greater reward later.  This is aptly explained by behavioral psychologist Dan Ariely in a TedX talk: (17:48)

·       “Success is not given to you.  It is earned.” 

The Empirical Value of a College EducationThe Great Recession of 2008-2009, from which the United States economy is still recovering, revealed some stark truths regarding the value of a college education.  Not only do college graduates earn a great deal more over the course of their lifetimes, but also their rate of unemployment is far below that of those who do not possess college educations.  In short, there are jobs out there – for educated and skilled workers.

·        “Just Do It.  Do It. Do It. Do It … DO IT NOW!”

Say the foregoing statement out loud to yourself whenever you are tempted to procrastinate.  It works!

Procrastinators don't have good problem solving skills and struggle more with homework than those that did it consistently early.  Here are some videos on avoiding procrastination and using available time more effectively.  Establish your work space to avoid distractions.  “Stop Procrastinating” by Charlie (4:17)

Starting a project is the biggest barrier to productivity. Use periods of focused, intense work, followed by breaks (90 minutes followed by 15-minute break). See “The Science of Productivity” (3:15). 

Also see “The Science of Procrastination – & How to Manage It” (2:49).

·       “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful.”

A great video on this is found at: (6 min.), featuring Eric Thomas (inspirational speaker) and East Carolina running back Giavanni Ruffin.

Eric Thomas also communicates this lesson in a 6-min video, in a classroom setting:

Some students watch this video every day - as a daily affirmation. Daily affirmations train your brain to think positively; they are uplifting truths you want to believe and heartwarming convictions about yourself or the world as a whole. They are one of the most effective ways to proactively and permanently change the way you think. There are many “daily affirmation” videos on YouTube that you can explore, and then introduce to your students. Students can also be encourage to make their own daily affirmations – by posting in their dorm rooms or place of study, or even by making their own videos.

·       “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” – Dr. Seuss

View the Adam LaDolce video, “Social Freedom” – 8 min. - – why those who look down on you should no longer be a part of your universe.

·       “Have passion for what you do.” (Steve Jobs)

Watch this short video at: (1:31)

So many students – especially freshman and sophomores – are uncertain of their career paths.  Students can narrow down their choice of careers by discovering what personality traits they possess, and how those translate into possible career paths.

Online career assessments are available (some for free) that assess a person’s values, temperament, personality, interests and his/her skills & talents.

·        “Never give up.” Some inspirational videos: 

Jimmy Valvano 1993 ESPY Speech:

·       “You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can't have it.” – Robert Anthony 

Do you believe that you can’t get an “A”? You’re right.

Do you believe that you can’t succeed in college? You’re right.

Do you believe you are a loser? You’re right.


Do you believe you’re a winner? You’re right.

Do you believe you can boost your GPA?  You’re right.

Do you believe you will have a successful career?  You’re right.

Tell your mind what you want it to think. Internalize those thoughts into beliefs. And your mind will begin to find ways to prove you right.  You can achieve everything in your wildest dreams. But you won’t if you believe you can’t. Your mind will work to keep you stuck right where you are.

It’s your choice.   Choose enthusiasm, energy and elation.  Choose to win.  Choose BIG success!

An inspirational video from John Van Achen: (2:47)

 “The most motivating 8 min of your life!” (8:11)

·       “Don't ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise.” – Lou Holtz

Establish the expectations of your supervisor, your peers, your clients and customers.  And then exceed them.

If you know you won’t meet the expectation of another – contact them, and re-establish a new expectation. The very worst thing you can do is have a deadline pass, without reaching out.

·       “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce.  If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” – Zig Ziglar

 Why is it when we need friends the most, we can't find them? Zig Ziglar's quote addresses that "what can you do for someone else" approach that will help you make friends simply by thinking of other people first. If you're desperate to have friends, you will behave in a way that is different than if you're out to be friendly and helpful. One way to achieve this attitude Ziglar speaks of is by volunteering. Doing something for others can help you meet people while you give of yourself. Showing this side of yourself will make you much more attractive to new friends. And, as so many of us who have done so know – what you give to others, you get back ten-fold.

·       “Rush toward your fear.  Life is great on the other side.”

When you are afraid or fearful of something – whether it be introducing yourself to a stranger, public speaking, performing, etc. – rush toward this fear and get it done.  It’s great on the other side.  One personal experience on “rushing toward one’s fear” is shared at:

Find more success quotes at:

Social anxiety.

Lack of confidence.

It is often said that 40% of college students suffer from shyness (which is different from introversion). Given the importance to student retention of students forming connections with each other, and with groups (such as by joining clubs or organizations), I suspect that shyness or social anxiety is the underlying cause for a significant number of departures of students from the colleges.

It is important that students embrace the concept of expanding their own comfort zones.

Accordingly, in each of my courses, I spend part of the initial class session challenging students to “Expand Their Comfort Zones” via “The Three Trials of WKU.” While the exercises can be varied, I set forth three in the pages that follow (which are given as handouts to the students).

For maximum effect, you might provide a handout on one “Trial,” and then complete that trial, before proceeding to hand out the instructions for the next Trial.

What are the students’ reactions to THE THREE TRIALS OF WKU?

Witness these actual student comments from the Fall 2015 experience:

  • “At the beginning, I felt a little shy and embarrassed. But, after walking for a minute, I told myself I should be confident in myself. I did it and felt really good. I love the way that I saw people smile back and say ‘Hi.’”
  • “When I was assigned to do this activity in class it kind of made me nervous because it was unexpected and I didn’t want to talk to anyone outside of class. In the business world you will always face unexpected events and also talk to people you don’t know for the first time. So this exercise has helped me fight my shyness around other people.”
  • “The first exercise was greeting everyone we had walked past and I liked it because everyone I greeted had a smile come across his or her face. This was really nice to see because doing something so simple as just saying good morning to someone can go a long way and it makes you feel good knowing that you made someone smile.”
  • “This exercise was successful in stretching my comfort zone.  I may have gone the rest of my life without randomly saying hello t someone I passed on the sidewalk.”
  • “The thing I learned from interviewing another person is they were actually more willing to be interviewed than I thought.  I felt like I was going to puke before I had to walk up to someone and interview them, I honestly took a couple laps around DUC before I got the courage to ask someone if i could interview them.   Afterwards I thought that it wasn't that bad, but it still pushed me out of my comfort zone so I still felt uncomfortable.”
  • “I was incredibly nervous in the beginning of this exercise. As the interview progressed, though, nervousness fled and it became more of a comedic conversation.”
  • “I felt really nervous going into this interview but after doing it I felt really confident in my ability to interview or have a conversation with someone that I did not previously know.”
  • “I’ve learned that other people have the same fears as me. I felt nervous at the time because I was afraid of rejection. I also learned that if you don’t face your fears like rejection you will end up missing a lot of opportunities in meeting new people or anything in life. I would love do this exercise again and it should be repeated!”
  • “The phrase I chose to yell out was ‘Just Do it, do it, do it, do it, just do it now.’  I was originally nervous about this exercise but it really helped me get over that fear. I would never do anything like this on my own but it certainly did help that I was open to doing new things and that everyone in the class had to do it.”
  • “You said in the announcements that it is a mandatory class and only to bring a pen/pencil. I honestly had no idea what we were going to do (which would make it easier for students who would consider skipping). All I knew is it is the one class in the year you said it is "mandatory" so that was enough motivation for me to come.”
  • “Coming from a background of a few years in a white collar management position, I do think something similar to this should be mandatory.  Most of the graduates that we employee have zero interaction skills.  You assign them a task and you send them to a corner to complete it.  Unless it is someone with a degree focused on being interactive, it is just not a skill that is taught.  And, for introverts like myself, it is a learned skill that comes with practice.”
  • “I think that the ‘Three Trials of WKU’ should be a mandatory activity for all students. It should be done during a student’s freshmen year, and repeated at least once per year, if not once per semester through a student’s college career. I feel that this should be a repeated activity because we all grow each year, we all learn something new about ourselves, and find confidence in the things that we’ve accomplished before. Practice makes better. I believe confidence is something that is built through practice.”
  • “I think it bonded us as a class, because we all supported each other and did the activity together. It was one of the best things I've done for a class in my three and a half years here!”
  • “This was a great class. I am glad that I had the opportunity to take this class with Dr. Rhoades. I really enjoyed the Expand Your Comfort Zone exercises and the Three Trials of WKU. This assignment really helped me get outside of my comfort zone and do things that I previously would not. I know some of the class did not understand the point of these activities, and I kind of did not either, until it was explained later in the class. These exercises helped me grow as a person and learn that in order to do a lot of things in life you have to step outside of the comfort zone.”
  • “One of my favorite classes that I have taken at WKU. Dr. Rhoades cares about his students and the class time he takes to focus on personal development is not only a good mental break but also very beneficial.”
  • “I have rushed toward my fears and it has been awesome! I honestly wish I could take this class again just for that experience. Thank you, Dr. Rhoades.”


Let’s begin our journey … please walk as a group to the Downing Student Union. BUT … as you do so …


Smile at all times while walking around campus this next hour.

  • Smiling makes you feel good, makes others feel better about you, and sets others at ease.
  • Recent research reveals that a “toothy grin” makes you easily detectable in a crowd of people.  This should come as no surprise to those who smile a lot. A smile not only enables you to be noticed, but also builds positive feelings in the observer. 
  • "Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu. When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too." - Karen McLendon-Laumann
  • Smiling is indeed important in our everyday life, both in our personal lives as well as within the workplace. Dale Carnegie notes, "The expression one wears on one's face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one's back."
  • A smile is one of the most obvious and effective methods of non-verbal communication. It is one of the first things someone will notice about you.  A smile, both physically as well as subconsciously, transmits the message, “I'm glad you're here and that I'm happy to see you.”
  • Smiling has implications, both in our personal as well as our business relationships. Smiling overcomes barriers and open doors for people. A sincere smile is a message of goodwill and is considered a sign of hospitality and confidence when dealing with a friend or a business associate.

Greet others you pass by.

  • Why? The importance of greeting others shouldn’t be overlooked.   The skill of greeting others well extends to all our social relationships – be they at home, at college, or in the business environment.  Making the people around you feel good by giving them a warm greeting every time you see them builds stronger, friendlier relationships.
  • Whether at school, with friends, or in business, greeting people is an everyday occurrence and is an important skill to master.  

Walk tall – swiftly and with good posture – i.e., with a sense of purpose.

  • It’s pretty clear that how you carry yourself affects how others think about you.  Would you have confidence in a person that stumbled around and walked very slowly? No! Show your confidence by walking with a purpose.   When you walk purposefully, you convey confidence and energy.
  • Whether you are walking down the hall or across the room, decide where you want to go and walk there with purpose!  Keep a tall posture with your head high, your shoulders back and your stomach tucked in. Pick up the pace; there is no need to slow down - you know where you are going!  Stand tall.
  • Walk tall.  Ooze confidence - at all times.


In surveys of groups, the second most common fear is “meeting someone new.” About 40% to 50% of us suffer from anxiety in doing this. If we only knew that many other persons also possess this anxiety, we would likely be less hesitant to introduce ourselves to others!

Overcoming this anxiety is all about “expanding your comfort zone.” As you do an activity over and over that you find somewhat stressful, you get used to it – and what was once stressful becomes far less so.

College is a great place to expand your comfort zone. Why? There are very few implications. Most of the persons you meet on campus you will not see again after you graduate.

What’s the worst that can happen if you approach someone? Rejection. And if this happens – so what! That person (or group) that rejected me is no longer part of YOUR universe. MOVE ON. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of persons on this campus who will appreciate you for who you are.

So, here is the ASSIGNMENT:  Do so when told by your professor or group leaders. You will have fifteen minutes to complete this task before we re-group and go on to our next trial. Meet up at the designated location.

In the Downing Student Union, go up to SOMEONE WHO YOU DO NOT KNOW.


Major or occupation?

Are you happy with your current major, or considering a change?

What do you like most about WKU?

If you could change one thing at WKU, what would it be?

What has been your best experience at WKU?

If you could do one thing before you died, what would it be?

What are you thankful for at this very moment?

What one thing would you like to change about yourself?


Public speaking can be intimidating for many, whether it be in a group of a few, in front of a class, or in speeches before hundreds or thousands of people. Nearly everyone is apprehensive when they publicly speak.

Yet, with practice, the apprehension fades. Again, by undertaking an activity that scares you, you gain confidence and undertaking the activity again becomes less stressful.

I used to be deathly afraid of being called upon in class, during college. Yet now I can give a speech before hundreds, and even thousands, of people, and not possess anxiety. How did this change occur? Simply by DOING IT – and by doing it, I expanded my comfort zone.

GATHER TOGETHER in the common space of the WKU Downing Student Union. Then each student will, in front of the class (and anyone else around): “SHOUT OUT” (SAY LOUDLY) one of the following success tips. Try not to duplicate what other students have already shouted.

When you see something that you fear - run toward it as fast as you can - because it is beautiful on the other side.”

“9 hours, 15 minutes.  Need I say more?”

“Career happiness involves doing what you love.  Career success is excelling at doing what you love.”

“Just do it.  Do it, do it, do it.  Just do it NOW.”

“Have confidence in you, and everything you do!”

“Until you spread your wings, you will have no idea how far you can fly.”


“Self-control is like a muscle; it gets stronger the more you exercise self-control.”

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”

"Don't ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise."

“To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.”

“If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”


“Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.”

“The first and best victory is to conquer self.”

“Stop lying down with dogs (or you’ll get up with fleas).”

“Follow your passions, believe in karma, and you won’t have to chase your dreams, they will come to you.”

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

“The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.”

“You are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

““We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.”

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.”

“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.”

“Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.”

“You already have every characteristic necessary for success if you recognize, claim, develop and use them”

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”

“Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.”


“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

“Success is 99% attitude and 1% aptitude.”

“I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.”

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” - MJ

“You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals.”

 “Most progress is made by the uncommon man.”

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.”

“Don’t be so busy changing the world to forget that one smile can change mine.”

“I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents.”

“I am a successful student.”

“I will allow myself enough sleep each night to fully rest, so that I may learn without drowsiness the next day.”

“Today, I am brimming with energy and overflowing with joy.”

“My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil.”

“I will exercise my body each day, in ways that I enjoy.”

“I am superior to negative thoughts and low actions.”

“I forgive those who have harmed me in my past and peacefully detach from them.”

“A river of compassion washes away my anger and replaces it with love.”

“I possess the qualities needed to be extremely successful.”

“Creative energy surges through me and leads me to new and brilliant ideas.”

“Happiness is my choice. I base my happiness on my own accomplishments and the blessings I've been given.”

“My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless; my potential to succeed is infinite.”

“Everything I encounter is a lesson and teaches me something.”

“Today and every day, my thirst for learning is alive and well in me!”

“I can learn anything.”

“My study habits improve daily.”

“I choose to take charge of my education, for I know that the more I learn, the more I will achieve.”

“A great student lives within me; today that student shows up by preparing for each class and actively participating in class.”

“I will master the material in my classes, and I will over time become an expert.”

“Today I invest in myself, through learning and scholarship, so that tomorrow I can make a difference.”

“I respect my professors and fellow students by arriving on time for classes.”

“I choose to grow each day and become an even better person.”

“I am courageous and I stand up for myself.”

“Sometimes I will leap before I look and take chances.”

“I choose to rush toward my fears, for life is better on the other side.”

“Today, I abandon my old habits and take up new, more positive ones.”

“Many people look up to me and recognize my worth; I am admired.”

“My life is just beginning.”

“I chose to never, ever, give up!”

“First say to yourself what would you be; and then do what you have to do.” Epictetus (C. 55 – C. 135) Greek Stoic Philosopher

“Every man is the architect of his own future.” Sallust (86 -35 BC) Roman Historian

“They can do all because they think they can.” Virgil (70-9 BC) – Roman Poet

“Where fear is . . . happiness is not.” Seneca (4BC – AD65) – Roman Philosopher and Playwright

“They can do all because they think they can.” Virgil (70-9 BC) – Roman Poet

“Practice yourself for heaven’s sake, in little things; and thence proceed to greater.” Epictetus (C. 55 – C. 135) Greek Stoic Philosopher

“Never, never, never, never give up.” Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British politician.

“I am not concerned that you have fallen -- I am concerned that you arise.” Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) Politician. President of the United States.

“Before success comes in any man's life, he's sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit. That's exactly what the majority of men do.” Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) American speaker and motivational writer.

“There is genius in persistence. It conquers all opposers. It gives confidence. It annihilates obstacles. Everybody believes in a determined man. People know that when he undertakes a thing, the battle is half won, for his rule is to accomplish whatever he sets out to do.” Orison Swett Marden (1850-1924) American author and founder of Success magazine.

"If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success." James Cameron

"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it." Henry David Thoreau

"Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out." John Wooden

"Entrepreneurs average 3.8 failures before final success. What sets the successful ones apart is their amazing persistence." Lisa M. Amos

"If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary." Jim Rohn

"Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life--think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success." Swami Vivekananda

"Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion." Tony Hsieh

"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." Walt Disney

"If you are willing to do more than you are paid to do, eventually you will be paid to do more than you do." Anonymous

"Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." Winston Churchill

"Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them." Vaibhav Shah

"Opportunities don't happen. You create them." Chris Grosser

"Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value." Albert Einstein

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." Charles Darwin

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Eleanor Roosevelt

"The best revenge is massive success." Frank Sinatra

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Edison

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him." David Brinkley

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt

"The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what is one's destiny to do, and then do it." Henry Ford

"If you're going through hell, keep going." Winston Churchill

"What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise." Oscar Wilde

"The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success." Bruce Feirstein

"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." John D. Rockefeller

"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." Nathaniel Hawthorne

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Albert Einstein

"There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed." Ray Goforth

"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." Arthur Ashe

"People ask, 'What's the best role you've ever played?' The next one." Kevin Kline

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." Thomas Jefferson

"The starting point of all achievement is desire." Napoleon Hill

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out." Robert Collier

"If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work." Thomas J. Watson

"All progress takes place outside the comfort zone." Michael John Bobak

"You may only succeed if you desire succeeding; you may only fail if you do not mind failing." Philippos

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear--not absence of fear." Mark Twain

"Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." Pablo Picasso

"We become what we think about most of the time, and that's the strangest secret." Earl Nightingale

"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." Vidal Sassoon

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone." Bill Cosby

"Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending." Carl Bard

"I find that when you have a real interest in life and a curious life, that sleep is not the most important thing." Martha Stewart

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

"The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself." Mark Caine

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

"The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus." Bruce Lee

"Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy." Jimmy Spithill

"Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down." Charles F. Kettering

"If you genuinely want something, don't wait for it--teach yourself to be impatient." Gurbaksh Chahal

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." Steve Jobs

"If you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you!" T. Harv Eker

"Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don't wish it were easier; wish you were better." Jim Rohn

"The No. 1 reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors." Napoleon Hill

"In my experience, there is only one motivation, and that is desire. No reasons or principle contain it or stand against it." Jane Smiley

"Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time." George Bernard Shaw

"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well." Diane Ackerman

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." Jim Ryun

"Our greatest fear should not be of failure ... but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." Francis Chan

"If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much." Jim Rohn

"Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don't have a plan." Larry Winget

"To be successful you must accept all challenges that come your way. You can't just accept the ones you like." Mike Gafka

"Be content to act, and leave the talking to others." Baltasar

"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." Margaret Thatcher

"Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it's holy ground. There's no greater investment." Stephen Covey

"I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite." G. K. Chesterton

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Thomas A. Edison

"The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize." Robert Hughes

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?" Robert Schuller

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing." Abraham Lincoln

"Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential." John Maxwell

"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success." Thomas J. Watson

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Albert Einstein

"Success is just a war of attrition. Sure, there's an element of talent you should probably possess. But if you just stick around long enough, eventually something is going to happen." Dax Shepard

“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.” Dhirubhai Ambani

“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” Mark Caine

“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Tony Robbins

“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Audre Lorde

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Mark Twain

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas A. Edison

“If you don’t value your time, neither will others. Stop giving away your time and talents. Value what you know & start charging for it.” Kim Garst

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs

“Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present.” Roger Babson

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” Vince Lombardi

“Success is about creating benefit for all and enjoying the process. If you focus on this & adopt this definition, success is yours.” Kelly Kim

“I used to want the words ‘She tried’ on my tombstone. Now I want ‘She did it.’” Katherine Dunham

“Really it comes down to your philosophy. Do you want to play it safe and be good or do you want to take a chance and be great?” Jimmy J

 “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn

“If you genuinely want something, don’t wait for it – teach yourself to be impatient.” Gurbaksh Chahal

The following assignment might be provided to students in certain classes. The goals of the assignment are two-fold: First, to have students gain confidence by facing fears they may possess. Second, to become better writers.

The student reaction to these exercises, and to the presentations in class, can be powerful: “You pushed us to get to know the people we've had class with for years! The Comfort Zone projects have also influenced me in my personal life. This semester has been the most difficult emotionally, but your kind words have inspired me to keep going no matter how hard. From the Ted Talks, to even the Power Poses, you exposed us to a world of college where we can be successful! It is so important to constantly educate yourself on success, and you did exactly that. [A fellow student] and I were having a talk one day, and we talked about doing something, just because it made us step outside of our comfort zone. As peers, all of us have talked time and time again about how much the comfort zone exercises have pushed us to do things we would not typically do. I have showed me friends, outside of our classes, many of the Ted Talks and videos that you have showed us.”




As you expand your comfort zone, you actually grow as a person to fill out these new boundaries.

If you develop a larger comfort zone, and continue to push the edges of it out, you really do grow as an individual – you have more experiences, undertake more learning, and acquire more wisdom.

In short, you experience life more fully.

As an added bonus, when you interview for a job in your career field you will be a better interviewee, and job candidate, generally. The best jobs go to the graduates who are the most well-rounded.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT – Choose at least 7 activities that expand your comfort zone from following list of 20 activities, and complete them over the next week.  You may do each activity only once – i.e., you must undertake at least seven different activities from the following list.

·       At the end of the week, if you have completed all 7 activities, plan to give yourself a reward. Such as two hours of “fun time” (no work permitted; no thinking of work permitted). Or going out to a restaurant you’ve been wanting to go to for awhile. Or another reward of your choosing.

·       At the end of each day write down your progress in a journal.  Record what you did, what impact (if any) your actions had on the life of another (and/or you), and how you feel about the activity you undertook.

Suggested format of your journal:

“I expanded my comfort zone over the past week by undertaking seven activities I would not have normally undertaken.  These were:

1.     What activity did you do?  What was the result for you? How did it make you feel? What impact did the activity have on you – or on another? How beneficial was this activity to you?

2-7. (Repeat the above)

In summary, as a result of all of these experiences, I feel / have realized / believe / etc. ____________.”

SUBMIT YOUR JOURNAL - Submit your journal via the Assignment tab on Blackboard- not later than the date set forth on Blackboard for this assignment. Organizational structure of your journal, grammar, paragraph structure, spelling, and content will all be graded. Your journal should be in the form of an essay, with a proper opening paragraph and closing paragraph. Your journal should be not less than 700 words.



1.     Perform three “random acts of kindness” (counts as 1 of the activities). 

a.    Record your random act of kindness on your social media site.

b.    For ideas for random acts of kindness, visit

2.     Give at least three people compliments on any day, when you normally would not (counts as 1 of the 7 activities).

3.     Smile at (all) strangers, and say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” or “Hi” to all the people you pass by, for one entire day – and wherever you are!

4.     Speak Up In A Class – when you normally would not speak up.

5.     Go to an on-campus event or gathering which you typically would not go to, or engage in a new activity (or go to a club or organization meeting) on-campus

6.     Thank A Friend Or Family Member For Their Ongoing Support (Warning: very powerful results ensue!)

7.     Tell someone they are loved. (*other than your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, or pet)

8.     Get to sleep (bed) one hour earlier for FOUR nights straight, AND at the same time each night (this counts as 1 of the 7 required activities)

9.     Let Go of your Self-Judgment for a Day … and do something bold or “out-of-character” (but well-intentioned) which others would never think you would do.

Feel good about yourself! Don’t worry about how others may judge you! If others think ill of you, no longer consider them privileged to be a part of your universe. “Those who matter mind; those who mind don’t matter!”

10.  Perform on Karaoke night

11.  With two or more friends or acquaintances, explore the benefits of the “Power Pose” by watching this video:  Google search: “TedX Power Pose” to find the 16-minute video, or go directly to

Warning: you’ll never think about testosterone in the same way again!

12.  Unplug your t.v. and video games for ONE WEEK (counts as one of the seven activities). In all my years of counseling senior citizen clients, I have never had a single client, as they reminisced about their various regrets of things they did not do in life, state that “I wish I had watched more t.v.”


14.  Disconnect from Facebook and all other social media sites for TWO DAYS STRAIGHT.

15.  Ask for help (undertake one of the following):

a.      Visit the writing lab or math lab at the For assistance with an assignment;

b.      Seek better study skills and/or time management skills guidance from your academic advisor;

c.      Ask for a tutor (tutors are available for many, but not all, subjects; you should request a tutor as soon as possible during a semester); or

d.     Obtain counseling at the Student Health Center to talk through a problem you may be having difficulty with.

16.  Form a study group, or join one, during the next seven days

17.  See a professor for guidance on “how to do better” in a particular class and/or to review your last assessment (with the goal of determining how to better prepare for the next assessment);

18.  Apologize to someone you have done wrong, and/or admit you were wrong

19.  Write a “personal log entry” in which you forgive someone for a wrong done to you.  Let go of bitterness. Let go of a grudge. (Whether you choose to communicate your forgiveness to the other person is up to you, and is of course dependent upon the circumstances.)  Life is too short to continue to go through life with hurt and pain.

20.  Write and either mail or deliver a handwritten thank-you note, once a day, for the next three days (counts as 1 of the 7 required activities)

21.  Repeat aloud, and in the presence of at least two others: “I am a scholar, motivated to succeed. I am part of a diverse, caring community of scholars.”

Strategy #10: “Ooze Confidence” (And if you are not confident … then fake it!)

In all of my classes, I have all of my students stand and repeat after me, several times during each semester, my “favorite” two words: “OOZE CONFIDENCE.” In addition to providing stories of my own experience (“Rush Toward Your Fear,” etc.”, I provide students with the following text, for their reading near the semester mid-point.

“Fake it till you make it” is not about faking happiness until you trick yourself into being happy. It’s not about acting like you’re too cool for school until other people also believe you are, and then basing your life around a made-up personality. It is about confidence. It is about meeting situations that you feel intimidated by head-on, telling yourself that you’re ready for them, and putting   “I-can-DO-this” intentions out there, until you’ve done such a good job convincing yourself that you suddenly can handle the challenge before you.

Appear confident, in everything you do. And if you are not – fake it!  By appearing to act confident, those around you don’t know of your insecurities – and it actually trains your mind to think confidently!

For a good part of my life, I was overly shy. (I remain a SEVERE introvert, but that’s different from being shy.)  In college I dreaded being called upon in class. I would never approach a girl.  At parties I always stood in the corner of the room. But then, one day, I figured it out - introversion is a strength, but not an excuse to fail to socialize effectively with others.

So, I sought out a little help from friends (the few I had) and read various books. (Of course, nowadays there is all kinds of advice on the Web about dating, small talk, confidence-building skills - just search for videos on YouTube). And I learned that I needed to push out the bubble of my "comfort zone."

I learned the power of a smile. I learned the power a handshake, a gentle touch on a person's hand or arm. I learned to greet others - even complete strangers - as I passed them by, or sat down in a classroom, etc.

At parties, I learned to pretend (without telling anyone) to be the “host” - and I took it upon myself to make others comfortable, introduce a person to another, etc. I found that fully one-third to one-half of the persons I encountered were also shy – many even more shy than I was (and I found that hard to believe, at first).

I learned that asking questions of others was the best way to keep conversations going, rather than just by continuing to talk myself. I learned the importance of focusing on the other person, as he or she talked. He or she deserves my undivided attention.

And I learned that I constantly needed to push out my “comfort zone” in order to get better and better at socializing and networking, and not revert back to my old habits. Why? Because I’m still an introvert – and I always will be. But being an introvert is a blessing, and a source of my inner strength. In fact, as an introvert I give energy to others. I am also much more contemplative of the world around me than most extroverts. I would never change that. I am proud to be an introvert.

College is that it is the perfect place to push out the boundaries of your own comfort zone - to expand the "bubble" of your ability to socialize with others.  And this is such an important skill, in the world of business, and in life in general.  It’s much better to practice and develop skills in college, than try to build those skills later “in the real world.”

About a year ago I saw on a college campus a dynamic speaker, Adam LaDolce, author of “Being Alone Sucks!” Adam LaDolce offered a lot of suggestions to those who were either shy or introverted.

  • First, don’t over-exaggerate the importance of certain events in your life.  Think about it – a short conversation with another, of “muffing it” in class, is not that big a deal – if it goes wrong.  It’s just the opportunity to learn to be better.
  • Second, realize this truth: “I’d rather regret doing it than regret not doing it.”  This is like the old saying, “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for.”
  • Third, smile and say “hello” to everyone you pass by.  Try it – for the distance between one class and wherever you are next going.  Try it again and again.  Over time, you will find that people start saying “good morning” or “good afternoon” back to you. And, over time, more people will seek you out to get to know you.
  • Fourth, imagine standing on a chair in a room and shouting: “I love all of you very much!” Some people will laugh, and some of these will want to get to know you more.  But a few in the room may look down on you. Guess what? These other people – they don’t exist to you anymore! There are plenty of people who do want to get to know you, who are lonely themselves. All you have to do is take a risk. What's the worst that can happen? You’ll discover that “the worst” is not really all that bad.

Do you always have to "ooze confidence"?  While this is important in my situations (interviews, the world of business, etc.), there are times when it is permitted to show a little vulnerability. For example, here's one way, especially if you are shy, to meet other people. It’s as simple as this - approach other people to seek out a conversation.  If you are shy, use this excuse: “My crazy professor wants me to push myself out my comfort zone, and go out and meet more people. Do you suppose we could chat sometime, perhaps over a drink or lunch at the Central Dining Hall, so I can practice socializing?” It’s o.k. to show a little vulnerability, by the way, in this instance.  (Another great pick up line ... "Hi. My name is ____. I've been told that I'm really shy, but I wanted to ask you if we could chat sometime, so I can get to know you better.")

What’s the worst that can happen? The other person says “NO WAY!” and turns away from you. And, if he or she does, then just move on – that person no longer exists for you, at least within your own universe. But there are hundreds or thousands of others out there who will want to meet you, and who desire to have a conversation with you.

How do you conduct a conversation? Have some questions prepared. The best conversation is where you talk 30% of the time, and the other person talks 70% of the time. (Once a relationship is formed, 50/50 is a better ratio.) A good way to get the other person to speak is for you to ask questions about that other person. First, seek out some basic facts, nothing too personal. For example, where is the person from, are they an only child or from a larger family, why they attended this college, what is their major, and what type of career they desire. Also ask for the other person's opinion - such as what classes to take, what professors are best, or what clubs or organizations to consider joining. As the conversation ensues, more personal questions can follow.

Here's how to OOZE CONFIDENCE every day:

·     First, be certain to smile – always – in the presence of others.

·     Second, say “good morning” or “good afternoon” or "Hello!" or "How are you doing?" as you pass by others.

·     Third, walk tall and with purpose - like it is important for you to get to where you are going, and quickly.

·     Fourth, rush toward your fear – and fake confidence while you are doing so. For life is great on the other side!

·     Fifth, dress for success. You feel more confident when you are clean and wear nice, clean clothes.

·     Lastly, imagine the other persons you greet are much more fearful (i.e., shier) than you. Strive to make others comfortable around you.

OOZE CONFIDENCE in everything you do, and be more successful in life. And, even if you are not confident in a particular situation, act as though you are. You'll impress others that way, and in so doing you will open doors that you never imagined would have existed for you.

FINAL REFLECTION. All of these techniques are designed to enhance the achievement of the learning objectives. Not only in mastery of the “technical content,” but also preparing students to excel in all aspects of their lives.
I continue to learn from my colleagues and to try new techniques. Why? Perhaps one student said it best via an email to me during the Fall 2015 semester: “I must say, at the beginning of the semester, I really questioned your class and the structure thereof. If it wasn’t a requirement for my degree track, I likely would have dropped the course. However, reflecting back, I am incredibly glad that I did not. Not only have I learned a lot about investments in general, I have learned a lot about myself. Your inclusion of the motivational videos and talks has been an incredible point of reflection for myself. There have been a handful of the videos that I reflect upon daily and have substantially altered my attitudes and perceptions in order to include the lessons learned into my life. Not only has this had incredible effects on the relationships with my co-workers at work, which in turn enriched both their personal and career lives, but it has also been a game changer in many of my important personal relationships. Sometimes it takes an outside force to help remind you that your ‘perfect’ existence, the existence that we all fall victim to becoming complacent to, is really not so perfect; there is always room for improvement.”

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