Fostering Resilience and Engagement

We have created a dynamic program of research and practice that promotes adaptive mindsets—a mindset where students regard difficulties as challenges they can overcome rather than as fixed and discouraging statements of their worth—in law students and address their changing social and academic needs. As a collaboration between students, law faculty, and learning scientists, our goal is to create meaningful cultural change. Through a rigorous assessment process that places the students’ subjective experience at the center of the design process, we utilized data from surveys and student-focus groups to inform the development of a playbook of evidence-based intervention strategies for law students. We began by asking our students at Pitt Law questions through surveys to understand their experiences through their perspectives. Using this understanding, we are designing, implementing, and evaluating targeted, tailored, well-timed interventions to foster greater psychological resilience and engagement among our students. 

Anticipated Outcome 

One of our objectives is to help build a culture at the law school of reflecting on all students’ experiences as expressed directly by the students through ongoing student surveys, more small focus groups, and dedicated lines of communication with the administration. At this point, we have intervened primarily with the first-year class. To meaningfully influence the students’ experience and promote positive change, we are expanding our work to include upper-level students. We will continue working with the administration and the faculty to determine institutional barriers that are impacting student performance. To better support incoming first-year students and prospective Pitt Law students, we will create a video/interactive tool, based on responses from members of the current first-year class, to provide information and strategies for promoting adaptive mindsets. 

Building Resilience Case Studies on Student Interventions & Psychological Insights Conference

We hosted our inaugural conference on the law student experience and examined how we can promote mental health, well-being, and resiliency in students using psychologically based interventions on May 16-17, 2024. The goal of this conference was to convene a group of legal scholars and psychology researchers to discuss the ways in which we can craft inclusive learning conditions and to provide a grounding in psychology literature and research.