Exploring values

This lesson is about exploring the concept of values with students and having them identify and reflect on what they personally value, or what makes their life meaningful.

Several studies have explored the role of values clarification and goal setting for students’ academic success and motivation. Important findings include:

  • Letting students reflect on what they value increases performance outcomes and decreases dropout rates;
  • Higher benefits have been observed for disadvantaged student groups (girls, students from low income, students with low confidence, minorities exposed to negative stereotypes…) (Cohen et al., 2006, 2009; Miyake et al., 2010, Hulleman et al., 2009);
  • Benefits of one short intervention can still be visible after two years (Cohen et al., 2009);
  • Identifying values & goals is more effective than identifying goals alone (Chase et al., 2013).

Interventions usually take no longer than 15 minutes and can include an activity in which students sort a range of values by personal importance, as well as short writing reflections on important values, or on how the themes learned in the classroom connect to their lives.

More information and a summary of important findings can be found in the teaching materials.

The suggested lesson contains a number of optional activities for deepening understanding of human values.

Author: Susan Hanisch

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