Skip to main content

Integrating Motivation: Motivate Lab's Student-Centric Approach

January 2024

Motivate Lab was one of this year’s TxCAN Pitch Competition’s finalists. Learn how Motivate Lab’s relevance affirmation writing activity helps unlock student aspirations and motivation, helping to simplify and expand advising supports for students without strong academic profiles.

Motivate Lab is a hub of exploration and innovation focused on understanding the mindsets and motivations crucial for learning, growth, and well-being of students. At its forefront is the Navigate Project, a research translation initiative committed to elevating student identity, voice, and agency through evidence-based advising practices.

Their relevance affirmation writing activity, which helps students connect their core personal values to their postsecondary plans, made them a finalist at the 2023 TxCAN Pitch Competition.

Relevance Affirmation: A Game-Changer in Motivating Students Without Strong Academic Profiles
The relevance affirmation writing activity encourages students to intertwine their core personal values with their postsecondary plans. The process is simple but profound – as students identify and reflect on their most cherished values, exploring how further education aligns with these principles. This practice is strategically crafted to motivate students, particularly those without strong academic profiles, by guiding them to bridge the gap between their core personal values and their postsecondary aspirations. For students facing academic challenges, this practice serves as a powerful motivator, offering a pathway to academic success through a lens of personal relevance and purpose.

Research supports the effectiveness of relevance affirmation in motivating students, especially those facing academic obstacles. Studies show that engaging in this reflective activity not only improves academic performance but also instills a sense of belonging and purpose in students, creating a motivational boost that transcends traditional academic metrics (Kizilcec et al. (2017); Tibbetts et al. (2016)).

The Practice Benefit: Scalable and Tailored Advising
Relevance affirmation facilitates the integration of motivation into advising support in a way that is tailored to students, scalable, and inclusive of diverse student populations.

The heart of relevance affirmation lies in its ability to integrate motivation into the advising process. As students reflect on their core values and articulate the connections to their postsecondary plans, they are actively engaging with their own motivations. This process not only helps them envision a future aligned with their values but also fuels intrinsic motivation, a powerful driving force for academic success and personal fulfillment.

The flexibility of relevance affirmation is a key advantage. It seamlessly integrates into various educational settings, adapting to the unique needs and schedules of different institutions. Whether incorporated into classroom activities, workshops, or one-on-one advising sessions, the practice is versatile and easily woven into existing curricula.

Unlike traditional advising practices that may inadvertently exclude students based on academic metrics, relevance affirmation is inherently inclusive. By design, it doesn't hinge on a specific grade point average or standardized test score. This inclusivity ensures that every student, regardless of their academic standing,  can engage meaningfully with their postsecondary plans.

Additionally, recognizing that each student is unique, relevance affirmation can be easily adapted to accommodate diverse learning needs. Whether students prefer written expression, visual representation, or other forms of communication, the practice allows for a personalized approach. This adaptability ensures that students with various learning styles and preferences can fully engage with the process.

How Your Team Can Implement
This relevance affirmation practice is extremely replicable and scalable with a monetary cost of $0 per student. The resources needed to implement this effective practice include the following:

  • Relevance Affirmation lesson plan and presentation slides
  • Writing prompt that asks students to connect their values with their postsecondary plans.
  • Advisor, instructor, or advisory teacher to model and guide the activity
Learn More
If you're intrigued by the Relevance Affirmation writing activity and want to learn more about how your team can implement a similar curriculum, please contact Monique Calderon Dotson, Postsecondary Pathways Director of the Navigate Project at Motivate Lab (