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A framework for being your best, for yourself and for others.

At SMU, we believe that the outcomes of one’s education could and should benefit more than oneself. This is why we have developed SMU LifeLessons as a framework for complementary platforms that will prepare and inspire you to make a meaningful and positive difference to the lives of others.


You can experience SMU LifeLessons through self-directed and facilitated activities delivered across a range of co-curricular learning platforms. However you choose to shape your learning journey, you will encounter 5 key elements in every SMU LifeLessons experience.


It is values-based.

Every SMU LifeLessons experience is an ongoing examination of one’s personal values. These are not prescribed ‘moral values’, but values that you choose; that you say matter the most to you. Your personal values are what define you, and are your deeply-held driving forces. They shape your perspective of the world, and determine your words, actions and decisions.

When you are a part of any group - be it a team, a community, or an organisation, you will likely be introduced to the group’s shared values, which will determine how the group will conduct itself, make decisions, and achieve its goals. It is important for you to examine how your own values may align or be in conflict with a group’s shared values, and decide for yourself what these shared values mean to you.

As you go through the SMU LifeLessons Learning Cycle, you will have the opportunity to talk about and enact your personal and shared values in the context of the activity. You will be invited to reflect on how your values have contributed to decisions and actions. Similarly, you will be asked to consider how the activity has provided you with new insights on your values.

Over time, it is natural to find that certain values will evolve, become clearer to you, or become less important, as other priorities and aspirations emerge.

It encourages personal reflection and quality conversations, as means of 'sense-making'.

'Sense-making', in brief, is the way you assign meaning to your experiences. It helps you understand the relationships you have - with yourself, with others, and the world; and it helps you decide what it is you need to do.

The practice of self-examination and reflective questioning is an essential part of this process.

For your personal reflective practice, you may use the SMU LifeLessons Pathfinder Journal as a guide. Each chapter contains questions and exercises that help you recall specific experiences for you to think and write about.

When you participate in team activities, you will likely engage in conversations with a staff advisor or student facilitator. These provide an opportunity for each team member to talk about his or her personal perspective of a shared experience or a conflict. Quality conversations seek to go beyond talking about what one feels, to uncover why one may feel a certain way.

Students we have spoken to have shared that they find this practice of reflective questioning helpful, for instance, in setting personal goals, in understanding their peers better, and in working more purposefully in their respective teams.

It takes you through the SMU LifeLessons Learning Cycle.


The SMU LifeLessons Learning Cycle is made up of two inter‐related components. One is the Values Relationship, which focuses on drawing out your personal and shared values, and understanding how these values may drive your decisions in different scenarios. The other is the Action‐Learning Process, which focuses on drawing out learning through a solo or group activity.

The two components in the Learning Cycle are inter‐related in the same way gears are inter‐linked: one moves the other. Engaging in activities would lead to a better understanding of your values and purpose. Similarly, an examination of your values would shape your perspective going into an activity. Regardless of which stage of each component you may be at, the learning that you gain in one component will have an impact on the other.

It nurtures you towards (at least one, if not all of) the SMU LifeLessons Outcomes.

The SMU LifeLessons Outcomes articulate what you can expect to learn to do through this transformative journey.

Each Outcome is further defined by three to five Aspects. These Aspects describe behaviours that are characteristic of a given Outcome, and help us focus on what is essential and impactful within that Outcome.

Current, the SMU LifeLessons Outcomes are described as follows:

Self-Directed Learner

As a Self-Directed Learner, you are empowered to take ownership of your own learning journey. Apart from taking the initiative to gain new knowledge, you are asked to reflectively and critically examine your motivations for learning; how you acquire and evaluate information and how you can synthesise and use your knowledge to modify behaviours, respond to the challenges, or create new and useful knowledge for others. As a lifelong endeavour, self-directed learning helps to build your resourcefulness, adaptability and resilience.

Trusted Leader

Every student has the potential to be a Trusted Leader, regardless of his or her position or role in a team. To be trusted requires not only a clarity of vision, purpose and process, but also a commitment to people and relationships. To inspire trust from others, your are called to embody your personal values; take responsibility for your actions; and act with integrity and courage in the face of challenge or conflict. This Outcome has five Aspects which are named after The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®.

(The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® is a registered trademark of John Wiley & Sons, inc.)

Responsible Global Citizen

As a Responsible Global Citizen, you are expected to look beyond self-interest to take up roles and responsibilities in your immediate community, and the world-at-large. You are able to navigate and make sense of this increasingly interconnected and complex world by engaging with and learning from individuals whose identities, values and experiences are different form yours. You also recognise that to effect meaningful and positive change, you would need to collaborate by seeking out diverse perspectives, and by sharing resources, decisions and accountability.

It enables your learning and development to be measured through the SMU LifeLessons Rubric.

The SMU LifeLessons Rubric is a matrix that is anchored on the SMU LifeLessons Outcomes and its Aspects. It provides a set of criteria that can be used for self-monitoring, or assessment and appraisal by a staff, trainer or supervisor.

Descriptors are provided at each level to articulate what you are expected to learn, demonstrate, or be assessed on, at a given level. In other words, the Rubric helps you describe what you can do to be a Self-Directed Learner, a Trusted Leader, or a Responsible Global Citizen.

We are progressively integrating the use of the Rubric within our co-curricular platforms. In the meantime, you are encouraged to use the Rubric to guide and monitor your own learning and development.

If you would like to use the Rubric to guide your team’s development, please speak to your staff advisor.


Download Rubric