Since much of college learning happens outside of class, having the self-discipline to commit to a dedicated and diligent study schedule can be the key difference between students who excel and those who struggle. This 50-minute lesson combines interactive discussion, videos, and lecture-style instruction to share with students so that they can establish and practice self-regulation and develop positive habits.
- Understand the concepts of self-discipline, self-regulation, and willpower
- Assess current level of self-regulation
- Understand the key factors of willpower
- Recognize the power of habits, both good and bad
- Understand the stages of self-regulation
- Gain awareness of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that could interfere with academic success
- Explore methods to strengthen academic willpower
- Recognize the difference between growth and fixed mindsets
Sellers, D., Dochen, C. W., & Hodges, R. (2015. Academic transformation: The road to college success. Boston: Pearson, 137-148.
Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business. New York: Random House, 130-144.
Baumeister, R. F., & Tierney, J. (2011). Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength. New York: Penguin Press, 11-17.
Summary of actions, via slides and activities
- Introduce the concepts of self-discipline, self-regulation, and willpower
- Discuss how much willpower students believe they exhibit currently
- Have students complete the Willpower Self-Assessment exercise
- Explain why willpower is important in college.
- Review the highlights:
- Willpower's finite limit—once you expend it, it does not replenish until the next day.
- Willpower is like a muscle—while it can be fatigued and become temporarily weaker, it can be strengthened by exercise over time
- Improving willpower by exercising it in one area can create a positive “spillover” effect into improved willpower in other areas
- Habits are a mixed blessing. They require less willpower than intentional behaviors; however, falling back into poor habits running on auto-pilot can negatively impact academic performance
- Certain habits are “keystone” habits. Significantly improving those habits leads to overall improved performance across other activities/actions such as:
- Sufficient sleep
- Physical exercise
- Healthy diet
- Stress management
- Study habits
- Introduce the stages of self-regulation, but be prepared for regression:
- Stage 1: Chaos
- Stage 2: Stability
- Stage 3: Flexibility
- Stage 4: Mastery
- Have students complete the Behaviors, Thoughts, and Feelings exercise (can be done individually, in pairs, or as a group discussion at the instructors discretion) and discuss results.
- Introduce methods to strengthen academic willpower:
- Ownership (Can’t vs Won’t)
- Self Esteem
- Mindset (Fixed vs Growth Mindset):
- Summarize and discuss how students will implement the material.
- Show optional Thomas Frank video that reviews self-discipline principles and introduces the “cold shower” challenge to develop/exercise self-discipline (from College Info Geek, https://collegeinfogeek.com/joel-runyon/.