Paying attention to students’ psychological strain could improve outcomes. The College Transition Collaborative studies interventions that reduce ‘psychological friction’.
By Tara García Mathewson | June 10, 2016
Freshman year is a tough time for students, especially those who are navigating an unknown world as first-generation students and those who are underrepresented minorities. Many students struggle with feelings that they don’t belong. And it contributes to their failure. Researchers in the College Transition Collaborative focus on problems caused by psychological friction, which, in turn, lead to lower academic performance, dropout, and decreased student satisfaction. One of their areas of focus is the issue of social belonging. An intervention targets a school’s freshman class, separating out students who will get the treatment and those in a control group. The intervention digs into the psychology that contributes to the challenges faced by students in new environments. ………………..
…………………At Stanford, interventions like the one the CTC is testing at campuses across the country are part of an overall strategy about how to make as many students successful as possible. Urstein said being able to implement something that had been rigorously tested was exciting, especially given that colleges and universities, with the best of intentions, often try a lot of things — sometimes based simply on intuition. In this case, the belonging intervention proved to help students, and, importantly, it also helped faculty, staff, and administrators develop a heightened sensitivity to important psychological factors affecting student success.
“Without that sense of feeling like this is a place you can belong, almost nothing else at Stanford is really possible,” Urstein said.