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potential to be successful and that he or she has your support. Support is good; cheerleading is often seen as overkill. Words of encouragement can be very helpful, as are words of praise, when used with care.

Here are some specific examples of motivational interviewing, taken from conversations I’ve had with my students.

SAMPLE DIALOGUE 1: When a student was upset about her performance on a recent test, we had this discussion:

PROF: “You seem upset by your exam performance. STUDENT: “Yes, I can’t believe how poorly I did.”

PROF: “Let’s see if together we can find some ways to help you to do better on the next exam. Tell me about how you prepared.”

STUDENT: “I read the chapter and looked at my notes.

PROF: “Okay, so you prepared using the text and your notes. Have you thought about trying some other study techniques?”

STUDENT: “Yeah, I could try using flash cards for the vocabulary. I used to study with my friends and we would quiz each other. That helped a lot in my anatomy class.”

PROF: “Flash cards, studying with your friends, reading the text and reviewing your notes—that’s a nice list of options. What will you try for next time?”

STUDENT: “Maybe I’ll still read the chapter and review notes, but make the flashcards and see if my friends want to study together.”

PROF: “Okay, You’ve put together a solid plan that you are very capable of doing. Let’s see how it works out for the next exam and we can talk again.”

SAMPLE DIALOGUE 2: Here is the exchange with a student who was arriving to class ten minutes late each day, disrupting other students and underperforming:

PROF: “When you arrive late to class, it disrupts other students who trying to learn. And, I think you miss some of the important parts of the class which affects your ability to do well. Earlier in the semester you were arriving on time, what has changed?”

STUDENT: “Yeah, sorry about that. I stayed up late, and then this morning I overslept and missed the bus.”

PROF: “That situation does present some challenges, let’s work out a solution to get you to class on-time and ready to learn. What do you think about that?”

STUDENT: “Okay, I know I just need to get up earlier. Then I can make the bus. PROF: “So, what steps do you need to take? How can you make it happen?”


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