Values, Goals, and Threats

Lunar-ratedTopics and Competencies


Grade Level

Middle GradesHigh SchoolCollege/Adult

Subject Area Integration



Christy Byrd


Byrd et al. (2020)

Date Created/Most Recently Revised

June 2021


20-30 minutes


Type and Level of Engagement

Individual Work, Group Work, High Engagement


Learning Objectives

  • Identify the goals and values students bring to the learning experience


  • Sheet of paper and writing utensil for each student
  • Copy of Figure 1 from Byrd et al. (2020)
  • Area for recording class guidelines and regulation strategies


  • This activity helps prepare students for the idea that they will sometimes have negative emotional reactions to the course content. Those reactions are normal and sometimes helpful, and they can decide how to respond to their feelings. The activity helps the class generate individual and group strategies for managing feelings.
  • Part 1: Goals and Threats
    • “Everyone has different goals when they come to a class like this. Of course, our hope is that you want to learn as much as possible, but as learners we usually have more than one goal. Make a list of three to four goals that you have for today, and then rank them in order of what’s most important to you.”

      After giving students 2-3 minutes to list and rank their goals, the instructor should explain the learning objectives for the day and the content that will be covered.

    • Give students a few minutes to identify beliefs and values that are relevant to the class’s learning objectives.
    • “Since my main goal is to have you meet our learning objectives, this activity is going to be structured toward those goals and this content. Sometimes what happens in the class will conflict with one of your goals or values. When you experience a conflict, you might feel confused, or uncomfortable, or angry, or sad. We call this experiencing a sense of threat or being triggered. On your page, write down some ways that you might feel threatened today.”
  • Part 2: Process Model
    • Introduce the model in Figure 1 and explain the multiple pathways. IThe instructor may want to supplement this section with the idea of comfort zones and learning edges.
    • “When people experience threat, they try to cope with the threat to make themselves feel better. People respond to threat in different ways. Some people lash out. Some people become silent. Other people try to reason with themselves. We call these responses coping. Some coping is directed at trying to get back to a place where you can learn, and other coping is about just trying to feel better. How you choose to cope will influence me and everyone else in the class. Then we start the cycle again. Can someone give me an example of each type of coping?”
  • Part 3: Group Norms and Regulation Strategies
    • In this section students think about how to help themselves and each other self-regulate. Try to create strategies that students can use on their own as well as ways for students to hold each other accountable. Note that some students may feel uncomfortable with other students “calling them out”, so be sure to discuss individual preferences and come to a consensus or majority view on the collective strategies.
    • “As I said, going through these cycles is a part of the learning process. Our goal is to help each other spend as much time using learning strategies rather than having to cope. However, sometimes we will feel threatened and need to cope. Fortunately, we can use each other as resources. Let’s make a list of guidelines for behavior to minimize threats to each other. Let’s then identify learning-focused coping strategies to use if we find ourselves or another person on feeling threatened.”
    • After identifying group strategies, have students identify specific strategies that they want to use throughout the activity and write those down. Encourage students to keep their lists visible to them.




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