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Building Positive Relationships with Learning

The mental health needs of college students have come to the forefront since the pandemic. Many students coming out of the pandemic's remote-style learning are still struggling with the isolation, disruption, and insecurity brought by it. These students have grown to associate college and learning with virtual assignments, pixelated zoom boxes, and a lack of connection and support systems.

When students come into our center looking for help they often come in accompanied by negative emotions and fears associated with either themselves or the assignment. These negative emotions can hinder their learning.

Common issues can involve:

  • being intimidated or ashamed for asking for help

  • not liking the subject/assignment

  • "I've never been good at [math/English/etc]"

  • doubting their abilities/thinking they're not smart

  • outside stressors or personal issues

Building relatability

The interpersonal relationships you build with instructors, other students, and tutors are important for making yourself feel more comfortable in receiving feedback and being honest with your concerns. A good place to start with building some relatability in the classroom could be with your embedded tutor. Get to know your tutor better by checking out their tutor page on Canvas. Also, take a look at their tutor bio video introducing themselves. Your embedded tutors should have a place in Canvas where they provide all this information. In their tutor page, you should be able to find their contact information as well. Once you are comfortable, get into contact with your tutor and introduce yourself.

Learning in and out of Lectures

When students join tutoring groups with their embedded tutor, they are able to connect with someone else who has access to online course content and is present during lectures. Dedicating two hours of the week will not only help students find more time to work assignments, they will also feel less anxious about asking for extra help on their assignments. In order to improve writing skills, students must build comfortability with sharing their written work with others and receiving feedback. Meeting with a tutor outside of class will help students with this.

Tutors will also do their best to motivate students to come see them for tutoring in and out of lectures. Sending emails, posting announcements, and even sharing memes are all things we do to try to let students know we actively want to do our best to help everyone succeed in their courses!

Visual Environment

When you go to work on your assignments or begin studying, make sure that you are doing so in a comfortable environment. Where you choose to surround yourself while working could affect how well you are able to concentrate. If you don't know what environment works best for you to work in, try out different kinds. Try working at home in a quiet place; if that doesn't work, try working somewhere away from home like at the library or at the Reading and Writing Center. Some ways we have been able to create a more comfortable learning environment for students are by using art and decorations, providing an open space with tables spaced out from each other, and using lighting that is not too bright or dim for students to concentrate.

Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness. Sounds meditative, doesn’t it? In a way it is. Mindfulness, according to Purdue University, “is a state of awareness or focusing your attention on the present moment, free from judgment.” It’s acknowledging and understanding what you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally at a given moment. You don’t pay attention to the past or the future. The past is gone and the future is for later. The benefits of practicing mindfulness aren’t for you alone, as it can also benefit those around you. But what are its benefits, and how can it help others?

[For more information, check out the digital edition of the Paper Jam!]


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