Possible Selves

Possible Selves is designed to increase student motivation by having students examine their futures and think about goals that are important to them. Students think about and describe their hoped-for possible selves, expected possible selves, and feared possible selves. They set goals, create plans, and work toward their goals as part of this program.

In research studies, students in the Possible Selves condition scored significantly higher than students in the control group on measures of goal identification. In one study involving college student-athletes, at the end of six years, the students in the Possible Selves group earned higher grade-point averages (2.65) than students in the control group (2.25) and in a career-counseling group (2.41). In addition, 75 percent of the students in the Possible Selves group graduated from the university compared to 45 percent of students in the control group and 60 percent of students in the career-counseling group.

Author(s): Michael F. Hock, Jean B. Schumaker, and Donald D. Deshler

Publication Info:

  • First Edition, Edge Enterprises, 2003
  • Second Edition, Edge Enterprises, 2023

Research Articles

  • Wenhao Wang, Kingston Neal, Gail C. Tiemann, Michael F. Hock. (2021). Applying Evidence-Centered Design in the Development of a Multidimensional Adaptive Reading Motivation Measure. Educational Measurement Issues and Practice. August 2021. DOI:10.1111/emip.1246812
  • Hock, M.F., Deshler, D.D., & Schumaker, J.B. (2006). Enhancing student motivation through the pursuit of possible selves. In C. Dunkel & J. Kerpelman (Eds.), Possible Selves: Theory, Research and Application.Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers. This chapter describes the Possible Selves program and the results of three studies involving university-level student-athletes and middle school students.

For more information about Possible Selves, contact KUCRL at 785-864-4780 or crl@ku.edu.