Gabriele Oettingen and Angela Duckworth Train ALA Faculty to “WOOP”

African Leadership Academy has partnered with renowned psychologist Angela Duckworth and professor of psychology Dr Gabriele Oettingen in an exciting project centred around WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan), a science-based reflection tool developed by Dr Oettingen that helps people achieve their goals. 

The WOOP collaboration forms part of ALA’s commitment to further cultivate and measure the development of the Seven Traits in ALA students. More specifically, this project seeks to take a deeper look into the trait of “autodidactism” and how it can be fostered.

Led by the Head of Year One class, Jake Galloway, the WOOP project involves a 6-week pilot where the Year 1 class will identify important aspirations they have for the future, identify potential obstacles, and make plans to overcome these, using the WOOP model. “Everyone is here at ALA to invest in their growth and development, and this is traditionally thought of as going to class. But doing well in school is not enough to achieve the kind of transformational change students are seeking in themselves as well as transformational change students are seeking in their communities. They need to be equipped to wrestle with ambiguity, and with problems that are complex but ill defined. This tool is a way to help students navigate that ambiguity,” says Galloway.

Jake Galloway

The WOOP pilot is also designed to help students further the collective mission of creating a peaceful and prosperous Africa. What makes this pilot unique is that all staffulty members guiding Year 1s through this process have been trained by Dr. Gabriele Oettingen herself and renowned psychology professor Angela Duckworth, making this tool even more tangible for the Academy.

In addition to empowering our students, this pilot will be the first time WOOP has been employed with students from the African continent. Learnings from this pilot will help other African schools adapt and deploy WOOP in their contexts. Galloway states, “We are leading and innovating by sharing and allowing others to stand on our shoulders and take the research and work further by adjusting it to their contexts.”

Galloway is also excited about how this project will help ALA align around a common language that speaks to helping learners reach their goals. Head of Wellness, Mandisa Mtembu, is excited about what the learnings from the WOOP pilot will bring into ALA’s Wellness Department. She says, “It’s a tool that’s going to help us achieve one of the most important pillars of our work as a department, and that’s helping students drive their own learning about themselves so they can develop a habit of connecting with their wishes and goals, whether small or large, and think about where they want to be, and how they can develop successful plans to overcome challenges and reach their goals.” 

The pilot officially kicked off in January 2021 and the Academy looks forward to drawing learnings from the data that will, in turn, inform ways in which WOOP can be applied in a diverse range of contexts both across the African continent, and the world at large.

Learn more about the WOOP project in the video below.