Changing the Narrative of Student Success

Mary Napoli, Co-Principal Investigator
Rebecca Farabaugh, Co-Principal Investigator

As students transition to college, many of them question whether or not they belong. When they receive a poor exam score or compare their success to the success of others, the question of belonging becomes even more prominent. If students do not receive feedback to show that these experiences are a normal part of the college experience, they are less likely to succeed.

Study Lab is changing that narrative.

At Study Lab, students have the opportunity to learn how to overcome challenges and exceed their academic goals using personalized tools to develop study strategies and forging connections with their peers. Study Lab makes the process of experimenting with and trying new study strategies part of the normal college experience––without any stigma. By incorporating student voices in outreach efforts and providing tools that are available to students in any discipline, Study Lab not only helps students understand that exploring different study methods is an important aspect of the college experience, but also provides them with the concrete information they need to start making necessary changes.

This project encompasses several components aligned with the broader goal of normalizing the academic challenges college students face and the steps required to address those challenges. For example, one of the primary obstacles for students who need academic support is the mindset that they do not have time to pursue it. To begin to address this, Study Lab created an online “Time Management Calculator” which helps students see how they can make time in their schedules for more efficient studying.

In addition, Study Lab is continuing to expand the “Knowledge Drop” video library of student tutorials. In focus groups, students reported that when they are stuck in their studies, they Google answers and look to videos for assistance. Yet, that content is often not personalized to the Pitt student experience. With Study Lab tutors working virtually this summer, video content was developed and expanded using a software program that could be accessed by all.  

Lastly, in order to ensure that students continue to receive quality peer support during a time of rapid growth, Study Lab developed a mentoring program for new tutors. The program includes observation, training sessions, Q&A opportunities, shadowing, and monthly meetings to discuss any issues that arise during tutoring sessions.

With the implementation of all of these aspects of the project, Study Lab hopes to be able to meet the demands of the student population and provide valuable tools to support their academic skill development. The hope is that these efforts will result in students feeling more connected with one another and a greater sense of belonging on the Pitt campus.

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