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Academic Resilience: A "What Works" Showcase

Presentation Descriptions

Thursday, March 25th

SESSION 1.  Proactive Outreach to At-Risk Students
Thursday 11:00am-1:00pm  

Spring Forward: A Model for Targeted Academic Preparation Between Semesters

Ellis Mimms

Director of Academic Support, Student Academic Support Office
Xavier University of Louisiana
The presentation will cover an initiative that was implemented as another opportunity to support students in preparation for the upcoming semester. The purpose of the spring forward program was to offer an opportunity to help prepare students for the upcoming semester. This presentation will cover the format for the program. This included introducing students to various study methods that may help improve performance in the classroom. We also focused on fundamental skills necessary for success in those introductory courses. This program also afforded students the opportunity to build relationships with tutors that are employed by our various academic resource centers. Our target group of students were those that were on academic probation, and those students who earned a C or below in the courses that we were supporting. We will discuss areas of improvement and opportunities for growth. This includes potentially modifying the schedule to allow students to participate in multiple tracks.
Thriving in Action (TiA): Flourishing for Credit

Deena Shaffer
Coordinator, Student Transitions & Retention, Student Wellbeing; Lecturer, Sociology & Psychology and
Diana Brecher
Clinical Psychologist, Centre for Student Development and Counseling Division, Ryerson University

Thriving in Action (TiA) began as a semester-long, non-credit, course-like intervention, with a curriculum blending Positive Psychology and holistic learning strategies, serving students who self-identify as struggling. Equity-guided and research-driven, TiA has from day one aimed to reach underserved, racialized, mature, international, and first-generation students, and those identifying as living with a disability(ies). As the resonance of TiA itself bloomed, we launched Thriving in Action Online, an ever-ready digital resource to support student flourishing. And, since, TiA has scaled into for-credit courses reaching hundreds of students each semester. Through our once in-person, now online, Thriving in Action Training Institutes, we have also enabled TiA to freely spread and iterate across Canada, and is now implemented in various forms at over 30 institutions. In this presentation, we will briefly share this arc, and embed holistic practices throughout.
Resiliency Skills Training: Small Shifts Can Make a Big Impact 

Jessica Gifford
Well Student

This session will provide a brief overview of the Resiliency Skills Training (ReST) curriculum, which can be offered as a 4-session workshop in-person or over Zoom, or as a 4-week online program that can reach hundreds of participants. ReST provides participants with a weekly menu of resilience-building activities in areas of goal-setting, emotional skills, social connection, health, meaning and purpose, and self-talk.  Engaging in the ReST exercises for as little as 15 minutes a week led to significant reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression, and improved overall wellbeing. The ReST curriculum has been implemented on more than twenty campuses with exceptionally positive feedback. The ReST Facilitator’s Guide can be downloaded from the ARC library for free for those who are interested in implementing the program on their own campuses.
It Is Never Too Late and You Can Do It: Student Stories of Academic Failure and Resilience

Jenny Steiner
Student Academic Success Services
University of Minnesota -- Twin Cities

Students on academic probation at the University of Minnesota can enroll in an academic success course to support their academic goals. This presentation shares emergent themes from student qualitative data to better understand how students make meaning of their experiences of academic failure following enrollment in an academic success course. The presentation will briefly share literature on academic success courses (Arcand & Le Blanc, 2012; Kamphoff et al, 2007; McGrath & Burd, 2012; Morales & Trotman, 2005), move into definitions of probation at the University of Minnesota, and then provide emergent themes. Lastly, the presentation will provide strategies for sharing student experiences with the campus community and possibilities for follow-up with students to understand continued learnings and barriers.

SESSION 2.  Engagement and Personal Meaning
Thursday 1:00pm-3:00pm

Academic Resiliency Workshop – What it Is and Why It Matters 

Amanda Montgomery
Director, Student Outreach & Academic Retention (SOAR Advising Office)
University of Texas at Dallas

I developed a workshop/presentation for students - it has been presented to our first generation program, our academic probation and scholarship probation students, student organizations, etc. - entitled "Academic Resiliency - What it is and why it matters." It has been extremely well received, shared, and requested by others by students and staff alike. Especially given the circumstances in 2020, resilience amongst college students is critical. Let's teach them what it is and why it matters. It's not always just about the grades. 
Community Cultural Wealth: The Engagement Factor in Student Success, What We Can Learn from HBCUs

Shanique McCallister Nixon
Ed.D. Candidate and Graduate Research Assistant, Educational Leadership
Tennessee State University
My current dissertation study is on how HBCUs are able to retain and graduate students that are most likely to drop out of other colleges. Given the data that exists on that success, I have completed an ethnographic study of two southern HBCUs to review their practices of engagement and see if and/or how engagement and academic success connect in an HBCU setting. This is done through a focus on culture and Yasso’s Community Cultural Wealth Framework. There were limitations to my participant observations due to COVID that I wish I’d been able to circumvent. I also wish that I’d been able to do a more immersive mixed methods study. However that would be a much longer and more labor intensive approach than a traditional dissertation.
ProjectConnect: Building Connection as a Road to Resilience

Jessica Gifford
Well Student

Strong social connections are essential to mental health and wellbeing and are the most important factor in protecting against suicide risk. ProjectConnect is a peer-facilitated program that successfully reduces loneliness and helps students make friends through structured conversation and activities. It can be offered in person or over Zoom, and students love it! 98% of participants say they would recommend ProjectConnect to a friend.
Career Exploration Challenge: Engaging GenZ Students

Soulyka Agana- Woodbine
Director of Career Services
Trinity Washington University

This presentation will demonstrate an effective partnership between Advising and Career Services. Both departments collaborated and created the “Career Exploration Challenge”, a series of workshops, site tours and lunch with professionals to expose students to new people, majors and careers. Translating this experience into a competition by adding points and incentives to experiences, specifically tailored to the Gen Z population. We decided to create a special program for students who are undecided about what major or career to pursue. We wanted to provide guided experiences for our students to assist them with their exploration. Most students are required to select a major by their second year and often feel “rushed” or “unprepared” to make this important decision, but this program helped students feel more confident in identifying a major and/or career field of interest. 

SESSION 3.  Health/Wellness Initiatives
Thursday 3:00pm-5:00pm

ResilientNU: Enhancing Student Social and Emotional Wellness through Small Group Programming

Samantha Conway
Senior Program Coordinator, Health Promotion and Wellness
Northwestern University

ResilientNU is a Northwestern University student and staff collaboration, which hosts quarterly small group cohorts with the aim of increasing students’ social and emotional wellness. In addition to cohorts that are open to all students, we offer some identity-based cohorts, for example: a cohort for Black identified students, led by Black identified facilitators. All groups are co-facilitated by a student team member and a staff member. The presenter will describe the creation of ResilientNU curriculum and programming, as well as provide preliminary assessment of the program’s learning outcomes. This program was created to address the need for preventive mental health and wellness programming on our campus. The presenter will discuss setbacks and limitations such as scalability, and progress towards solutions for these.


Student Wellness Hub: Building Resilience at McGill University 

Dana Carsley
Associate Director, Resilience and Wellness Enhancement, Student Wellness Hub
McGill University

McGill University’s Student Wellness Hub was developed to increase community and the capacity to respond to student mental health using a holistic wellness framework. Consistent with the Hub’s focus on awareness, prevention, and early intervention, this presentation will explore the creation and implementation of the Hub’s framework for Building, Enhancing, and Achieving Resilience (BEAR) in the university culture. We will discuss the foundation for BEAR, which is based on the student life cycle to determine when and how to integrate positive psychology themes, activities, and resources throughout the academic year to support student wellness and build resilience. In addition, we will discuss how the Hub included student voices as part of the co-design to increase access and reduce potential mental health inequities, as well as the importance of collaboration among faculty, staff and students within different faculties in implementing this resilience model.
Control What You Can (CWYC): An Online Stress Management Program for Students

Patricia Frazier
Professor, Psychology Department
University of Minnesota

In three studies conducted between Spring and Fall 2020 (total N = 800), we evaluated the efficacy of two online stress management programs for students. One intervention - Control What You Can (CWYC) - had been evaluated in several prior studies and involved learning to focus on the things you can control. In the other intervention - CDC Stress Management Recommendations - students completed surveys regarding whether they were following CDC recommendations for coping with stress. Both were administered as Canvas courses. The first study compared the two interventions, the second compared the CWYC intervention to a waitlist, and the third compared both interventions to a waitlist. To assess efficacy, groups were compared in terms of changes in stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom from pre- to post-intervention. Both interventions were more effective in reducing distress than was no-intervention; these interventions can be easily disseminated to students to help them manage stress.
The Mental Health Coalition (MHC): Harnessing Student Voices 

David Andrews
Associate Director 
Swathi Prabhu
Mental Health Initiatives Coordinator, Hokie Wellness
Virginia Tech

The Mental Health Coalition (MHC) is composed of representatives from various undergraduate and graduate student organizations that meet monthly to engage in meaningful dialogue regarding mental health on campus.  The MHC aims to serve as a peer network where student organization leaders can: learn about & support each other’s programming/advocacy efforts; elevate the discussion and actions around mental health on campus; collaborate for a common annual goal (policy change, event, etc.); engage in personal and professional development through trainings and workshops; provide a student voice to the university mental health taskforce.  Come learn about why we felt there was a need for this coalition, how it was created, what we have been able to accomplish thus far, even in the midst of a pandemic. We will also cover some of the early challenges and lessons we learned from convening such a passionate, diverse, and ever-changing group of student stakeholders. 

Friday, March 26th

SESSION 4.  Voices/Narratives of Resilience
Friday 11:00am-1:00pm

Encouraging Academic Resilience through Reflective Journals

Kay C. Dee
Associate Dean, Professor, Learning & Technology, Biomedical Engineering
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Picture a discussion forum in a Learning Management System (LMS). Are you envisioning the dreaded “post a response and reply to two other posts” whole-class forum, with students contributing mostly rephrasings and agreements with each other? Instead, envision journals for individuals, with students regularly reflecting on academic resilience, establishing dialogues with an instructor who provides challenges and support as needed. The LMS can be used at convenient times and places, with any overall course delivery method - useful for accommodating students in quarantine/isolation. I’ve been using LMS forums as online journals with graduating seniors and first-year students, creating reflective ‘wrappers’ around their college experiences, focusing especially on academic resilience with first-year engineering students. I’d like to share lessons learned, evaluative rubrics, an example list of reflective prompts, and logistical (both technical and workload) efficiency tips. 
Peer-Inspired Student Agency

Rashmi Kumar,
Associate Director 
Ryan Miller
Director, Office of Learning Resources, Weingarten Center
University of Pennsylvania

Beginning in 2016, the Weingarten Center and faculty partners at the University of Pennsylvania initiated in-class, peer-led and peer-moderated panels wherein students have opportunities to get candid advice from peers representing a mix of gender and race. The program began in one undergraduate STEM department and has now expanded to four departments in STEM disciplines. The frequency of peer-led sessions has varied depending on students’ needs.  Students' questions for the peer panelists: Have you ever done poorly in a midterm and been able to recover from bad grades? Did you find it easier to select easy courses? Is it better to avoid challenging courses? How can peers help?  The program’s success is premised in being transparent about recognizing student’ challenges, doubts, and struggles with perceived failure. This structure enables struggling students to repurpose their academic efforts without giving up or feeling the stigma of 'failure.'
Putting Words into Action: Creating Pathways for Building Academic Resilience

Margaret N. Mbindyo
Assistant Professor/Advising Center Coordinator College of AHSS and College of Business, Department of Academic Advisement and Student Development
Millersville University of PA

Given the myriad challenges, students are facing during the pandemic, some can easily give up and drop out from college. Cultivating and nurturing academic resilience which is a single most beneficial trait required to succeed in today’s academic situations is critical. The Millersville University Academic Resilience Initiative was started to motivate students through short personal video clips that relate to common struggles students face. Due to the pandemic, the initiative has expanded to include academic resilience speaker series. The invited speakers are from diverse backgrounds and professional inclinations and speak to students through video, zoom, or webinar platforms. Objectives for the presentation: share successes and the challenges faced along the way with a hope that attendees will put words in action in their respective institutions; continue the discussion about innovative advising strategies; and showcase how students can build connections during the pandemic.
Flipping Failure: MIT’s Collection of Student Stories of Resilience and Coping with Academic Challenges

Lourdes Alemán
Associate Director for Teaching and Learning
Teaching and Learning Lab

Flipping Failure is a new MIT initiative to encourage students to share their personal stories of resilience in the face of academic challenge. The project aims to remove the stigma of struggling at MIT and provides students with practical tools they can use to learn from challenging academic experiences. The stories are curated on a website (flippingfailure.mit.edu), where students can search and explore video segments which are organized by specific challenges and by specific resilience-building strategies. During this presentation, we will share the process that we arrived at for producing the video stories, what we found helpful and our future directions.

SESSION 5.  Scaling Up Across Campus or Campuses
Friday 1:00pm-3:00pm

Building First Year Student Resilience through Text Message based “Nudging”

John M Burdick
Associate Director, and Emily Peeler, Administrator, Student Success,
New York University

This presentation will discuss the behavioral nudging campaigns being instituted by the NYU Office of Student Success and how they have grown and scaled over the past two years. In the Fall 2019, the NYU Office of Student Success developed and implemented a behavioral-nudging text messaging pilot program to target academic at-risk students in high-fail courses. As Covid 19 fundamentally changed student life, we decided to scale up this tech intervention to include over 5,000 NYU first year students. In doing so, we intentionally focused our nudges on building resilience and increasing student support and connectedness during this challenging time. We will discuss how we grew a successful pilot into a large university-wide initiative that has sent over 300,000 behavioral nudges this past Fall. We will discuss some of the setbacks and learning that has taken place and we also quickly discuss how this relatively low cost initiative could be implemented at other universities.
The FSU Student Resilience Project: Scaling Up A Campus-Wide Online Wellness Program 

Karen Oehme
Director, Institute for Family Violence Studies, Social Work
Florida State University

Florida State University is now beginning Year Three of our online, universal prevention program, the Student Resilience Project, which depended on intensive cross-collaboration from multiples colleges and departments across campus. Crucial considerations in scaling up this resilience/wellness program for wide dissemination included:  using an early-adopter model, developing a scope of work, non-disclosure agreements, and licensing issues. We learned from our mistakes, and you can too! This program will give you a lot to think about and perhaps a path forward.
Mason's Resilience Badge

Katie Clare

Associate Director for Resilience Programs, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being
George Mason University
George Mason University’s Resilience Badge team will share how it transitioned a hybrid co-curricular program into a fully digital offering. Mason’s Resilience Badge launched in 2016 with approximately 300 students earning this digital credential between spring 2016 and spring 2020. A fully digital version of the program launched in fall 2020 not because of COVID-19 but to better reach Mason’s large, diverse population of learners (38,000+ students). The team will share its experience working with an outside vendor to translate a largely in-person experience to a meaningful online one. The team will share some lessons learned and how it hopes to move the project forward to meet team goals alongside those of the university’s administration who support this initiative. Finally, the team will position this effort as part of institutional efforts to support student success in holistic ways and to serve as a model well-being university.
The Purdue Steps to Leaps Initiative: Supporting Resilience Inside and Outside of the Classroom

Carl Krieger

Director of Residential Education, Division of Student Life
Purdue University
We will outline the Steps to Leaps initiative. A collaborative campus wide initiative created by students for students under the auspices of the Office of the Provost, Steps to Leaps speaks to the heart of students’ struggles in today’s world and strives to nurture perseverance, vision, intention and the formation of social support groups, all while reducing stress. We will discuss the creation of the program through research and assessment, the identification of the five pillars, and the programs that have been created within academic and co-curricular settings to enhance learning within the five pillar areas which include Grit, the name we chose instead of resilience. We will culminate in a discussion about what has gone well and what areas can be improved after year two.

SESSION 6.  Faculty and Staff Support
Friday 3:00pm-5:00pm

Pause for Wellness: Fostering Advisor Resilience

Laura Johnson
Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Advising, Courtney Joly-Lowdermilk
Program Director, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, and Taryn Andrea
Academic Advisor, College of Arts and Sciences
Boston University

The Pause for Wellness initiative at BU is a collaboration between the Advising Network (AN) and the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation (CPR) designed to foster advisor resilience. The AN offers regular training and professional development opportunities to1100+ faculty and staff through its annual symposium and monthly workshops. After hearing that advisors were struggling with the psychological and emotional impact of supporting students through the pandemic, the AN reached out to the CPR to pilot a community listening and support session. The goal was to fill a gap in employee support services. During the pandemic, BU has instituted excellent workplace safety measures and increased its physical wellness offerings for faculty and staff. While these supports address critical needs, they only peripherally address advisors’ emotional experience of the COVID workplace. Initial assessment of the pilot was promising and indicated an ongoing need, launching a new monthly series.
Resilient Teaching Online (RTO): The Impact of Communities for Faculty Resilience

Judit Torok
Director and Maura Conley 
Learning Designer, Center for Teaching and Learning
Pratt Institute

As a response to supporting faculty to teach online, our Center for Teaching Learning (CTL) developed a Resilient Teaching Online (RTO) faculty development program. This series, which modeled inclusive online pedagogical practices with tenets of faculty and student resilience at their core, was growing to be a vibrant and supportive community until we were faced with the challenge to ‘scale’ it to the whole campus. When we took the elements of the ‘community’ out of the RTO series and offered it only as a self-paced scalable structure, the program began to fail. In our presentation we will showcase the components and highlights of this program, the several iterations that we’ve implemented since its inception, and the implications of trying to meet the needs of the institute before meeting the needs of our communities. We will discuss our lessons learned from this project and how it brought to focus the need of building communities that support faculty resilience.
Well-Being for Life & Learning: A Guidebook to Support the Whole Student

Megan Kennedy
Director, UW Resilience Lab
University of Washington

The UW Resilience Lab’s Well-Being for Life & Learning initiative supports faculty in designing learning environments that promote well-being. Over the last two years, more than 40 WBLL Fellows (faculty, staff, students) participated in a community of practice, shared teaching strategies, and helped conceptualize a framework for advancing student well-being that serves as the foundation of our new Well-Being for Life & Learning Guidebook. The guidebook includes four core sections: teaching for equity and access, nurturing connection, building resilience coping skills, and connecting to the environment. It recommends dozens of teaching practices, features the work and testimony of UW faculty and staff, and offers student reflections on these concepts and practices. Our presentation will provide an overview of this resource and touch on some of the setbacks and breakthroughs described by our community of practice as they work to support the whole student in a remote learning context.


The Radical Resilience Training Program: Nurturing Internal and Community Resilience Across Campus 

Nikita Gupta
Resilience Educator and Program Director
Gwynn Benner
Assistant Vice Provost, Division of Student Affairs and Success
University of California, Santa Cruz

College campuses are working to increase access to resources that promote self-care & activate resilience. The Radical Resilience Training Program (RRTP) is a self-paced, virtual training program that includes 6 comprehensive modules and related toolkits on a variety of topics and skills to help students, staff and faculty promote resilience. Campuses can implement the RRTP to scale up efforts toward enhancing community care and spaces of support The modules offer skills that apply to all dimensions of resilience, including individual, interpersonal, and community resilience. At the end of the series, participants will gain 1) appreciation for their own resilience, 2) understanding of how to regulate their stress response through practices of self-care, and 3) actions they can take to support others on campus. This presentation will detail the structure of the RRTP, the support needed to implement this program as a campus-wide initiative, and best practices for sustainability. 


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