Show Up With Purpose – Engage in Your Learning

Show Up With Purpose – Engage in Your Learning

If you have attended an event hosted by MN State IT Center of Excellence you have probably heard us talk about “showing up”. This may sound like a quick catch phrase, but I assure you it’s much more.

Engage in Your Learning

Student engagement refers to more than just attendance and doing school work. Student engagement refers to “the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students shows” ( In 2015 a study by Gallup showed that 50% of students across America were disengaged in their education and work (Balow, 2018). In this study disengaged students were 700-times more likely to report feeling discouraged about their future. Before we go into the doom and gloom of disengagement, let’s take a positive approach and talk about the 50% that were engaged.

Why be Engaged

There may be the attitude of “so what” but if you are reading this blog I bet you are not one of them. That said, it is still important to know why you should be engaged as there will be many times in the next year, and in your life, when engaging feels daunting. There are four focus areas or goals you achieve when you are engaged. (, 1995)

  1. Success – Yes, engaged people are successful people. Engaged people love to find ways to show mastery, to be the best they can be and to share that success with others. Being engaged means bringing new ideas and innovation to your world.
  2. Curiosity – Engaged people love to figure things out and understand what is happening. They look for ways to take bring energy into an old or new way of thinking. This curiosity leads to better focus and deeper understanding.
  3. Originality – Engaged people thrive on self-expression. They speak for themselves and are confident in situations. Their ego is in check, but their confidence is strong.
  4. Relationships – Engaged people need involvement with others. They like teams, networking, and working together. An Engaged person knows that working with others produces higher quality products.

Characteristics of Engagement

There are a few ways you can gauge your current engagement. Answer these questions?

  1. Do I attend events and competitions that challenge my way of thinking? (Success)
  2. Do I try and create new ideas and ‘things’ from what I am learning? (Success)
  3. Do I ask questions or just chit chat to make it look like I am engaged? (Curiosity)
  4. Do I take notes and write down additional understandings or thoughts? (Curiosity)
  5. Do I take leadership roles in student clubs or class projects? (Originality)
  6. Do I look for opportunities to speak in public? (Originality)
  7. Do I attend small group events or have I started a small group discussion? (Relationships)
  8. Do I look for ways to network and meet people in the industry? (Relationships)

If you answered YES to all of these, GREAT, you are engaged! If not, you know that you can do better!

How to Stay Engaged

There are a few of us that will be totally engaged every second of every day and there are reasons that we should disengage as well. However, when we think about our success and how we can move ourselves forward. I’d like to discuss three ways to solidify your ability to engage. They are; take ownership, understand the benefits of engagement, and focus your attention.

Taking ownership means exactly that. You are in charge of your thoughts, actions, beliefs, and world. To be engaged you need to take ownership of learning in the classroom and your involvement in your college, industry or region. YOU are the one that can make things happen but you need to SHOW-UP and be part of the larger discussion. Join a group, attend an event, compete, or volunteer. Just take ownership!

When you understand the benefits of engagement you can begin to see why it is so important. Remember Success, Curiosity, Originality and Relationships? All are benefits to engagement. Understanding these allow you to become more adept at finding ways to engage.

Finally, focus your attention. Being engaged means being focused. It’s ok to try a lot of different things (in fact that is a really great thing) but when it comes to engagement your focus is needed. Focus is the key to Showing Up with Purpose. When you show up with purpose you are in tune to the potential of the day, event, meeting, or learning. Your mind doesn’t wander and your vision is clear. When you show up with purpose you experience deeper engagement. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

Chris Evert is a retired World Number 1 tennis player. She won 18 Grand Slams and countless other titles. In the early 70’s, before she was known as a top tennis player, she was playing in an Open Tennis Tournament in Miami Florida. The location was not idela as it was very busy and next to the Miami Airport. Over the next few hours she showed her dominance and won the match. After the match she went up to the net to shake her opponent’s hands and her opponent said “can you believe all the noise from the airplanes, it was terrible to try and concentrate”? Evert’s response, “what planes”? She Showed Up with Purpose. When you Show up With Purpose the “noise” is moved away and you focus on the task at hand. This is what being engaged means.

How Can We Help

The majority of the work of engagement is yours, but we know that it helps to have a few events and options throughout the year that are safe places to practice your engagement. This Academic Year we will be hosting or supporting the following events and we hope to see you there! Stay focused, Stay Engaged and Show Up With Purpose!

Our website, has the latest information for you to get to know what is happening at the Center as well as linked to different training events, hands on learning challenges, conferences, career fairs, employer and faculty connections, and so much more.


Along with  planned events, there will also be a number of Career Fairs, Industry Conferences, and additional events you are welcome to participate in! The only way you will know everything we have going on it to connect now!

Good Luck in the Fall Semester and may this be your best year yet! Get Involved!


Balow, Chris (2018). What’s So Important about Student Engagement? Retrieved from

Strong, R; Silver. H, & Robinson, A. (1995). Strengthening Student Engagement: What do Students Want. Educational Leadership. Sept 1995; v53, n1, p.8-12. Retrieved from

The Glossary of Education Reform (2016). Student Engagement. Retrieved from