Welcome to Fall ’19 @ PENN!

Source: Penn Today, Move-In Day 2019, University of Pennsylvania

Dear Students,

Undergrads, Grads, Professionals, Execs, welcome back or welcome anew! Our beautiful Penn campus is bustling with activities, initiatives and energy, but we are never complete until our students are on campus!

Your Team at the Weingarten Learning Resources Center awaits you with much anticipation and are excited to partner with you for another stimulating, demanding, yet fun and rewarding, Fall semester!

Here are our Top 8 Helpful Suggestions for Kicking-Off Fall ’19:

  • Come say “Hi!” and relax, study or hang-out at YOUR Weingarten Student Study Lounge!
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  • Come pick up your semester planning calendars! I always suggest a minimum of two copies, one for above your desk and another to post by the door coming in and out of your dorm room or apartment. There are always copies at the front desk. Remember the colors: Blue for Undergraduate and Green for Graduate:
  • Schedule an initial Consultation with any of our wonderful Learning Instructors to help get you started on the right foot! (hint, hint: time management consultation? reading strategies?)
  • Browse the Penn Wellness website and familiarize yourself with all of our wonderful campus resources for students to establish your roadmap to wellness and success! Penn has defined 8 helpful domains of wellness for a holistic approach to self- and collective care:
  • Finally, take pause, close your eyes, breathe, and connect to our wonderful community as well as supportive physical and figurative campus spaces!

At Weingarten, We Welcome You with Arms Wide Open!

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow.

Relaxation Room @ Penn’s Biomedical Library

Penn is committed to the heath and well-being of all students, faculty and staff. Dr. Dubé is the University of Pennsylvania’s inaugural Chief Wellness Officer. The Wellness at Penn website provides eight categories of wellness:

Adapted from the Wellness Wheel of SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services)
https://www.wellnessatpenn.com/

On April 25, 2019, Amanpreet (Aman) Kaur, Community Health and Engineering Librarian at the Biomedical Library, and her team’s idea of “Weekly Themed Walks” was selected as one of the finalists for Penn Wellness’ Big Pitch event, which invited students, staff and faculty to pitch their ideas for innovative wellness programming for the community.

Aman has also developed the Relaxation Room at the Biomedical Library:

Relaxation Room by Amanpreet Kaur
Penn Libraries

On May 30th, Aman provided us with a tour of the Relaxation Room in support of the Sow, Nurture and Grow: Cultivate Your Purpose theme of this year’s SALT (Student Affairs Leadership Team) conference at Penn:

  • There are spaces for physical, intellectual and spiritual relaxation, including yoga mats, chair yoga and prayer mat.
  • There are spaces for drawing, coloring, sensorial manipulatives, puzzles and even an Operation game!
  • There are relaxing sounds stations where you can scan QR codes with your cellular device and listen with a headphone.
  • There is an adjacent room that can be accessed for more interactional activities.

And, of course, get some studying and research done before or after your relaxation, as the Biomedical Library continues to be a great Study Spot at Penn!

For more information about the Biomedical Library, also see our prior blog: Study Spots: Biomed Library.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Instructor, Weingarten Learning Resources Center.

Refueling Research Passion

University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall, Fireside Lounge
Photo by Scott Spitzer
Source: University of Pennsylvania flickr

How do you keep the intellectual fire alive?

Whether you’re an undergraduate, graduate, professional or executive student, everyone has experienced a feeling of plateau in their scholarship. Your “long-term” goal may range from a term paper, a capstone thesis, a peer-edited publication, a grant proposal, to a dissertation and beyond.

But what happens when you experience intellectual fatigue? When the passion and excitement of your research question appear to have dimmed? When fogginess surrounds your clarity of conviction and analysis? You have been so focused and poured so much time and energy into your academic, scholarly and professional endeavors, that all of a sudden you start doubting yourself, including your research.

At Weingarten, we love to partner with and support our students through the ups and downs of their academic journeys. We offer a framework to help you assess and reignite the passion within for your scholarship:

Refueling Research Passion Pyramid
Conceptual Framework by Min Derry

In the Refueling Research Passion Framework, each triangle represent spheres of opportunity to re-engage, learn and restore, while the circles represent stratification and fortification:

  1. Wellness Triangle (top): How can you engage Self-Development, Community & Network, and available Resources to nurture and restore your Wellness? For instance, is it time to make that doctor’s appointment, or to try that new circuit route for your running or workout routine? How about joining a Philly @ UCity Fitness or Nutrition Meetup?
  2. Intellectual Triangle (bottom left): How can you explore Self-Development, expand your Community & Network, and seek new Resources to deepen or broaden your Intellectual Pursuits? For instance, is it time to step outside of your comfort zone and try a new Conference that brings other players and perspectives, or to try an interdisciplinary Conference that will “shake” up your ideas a bit?
  3. Vocational Triangle (bottom right): How can you explore Self-Development, connect with your Community & Network, or seek new Resources for Professional Development? For instance, can you email that distant colleague or professor and finally connect over good conversation, an article, coffee and/or writing for publication?

PEDAL@GSE
Second-year lead facilitator Yuxiao Li speaks with the team of four first-year GSE students she is mentoring during a discussion after teaching the intermediate class at Penn.
Photo by Louisa Shepard.
University of Pennsylvania flickr

So, next time that you feel in a slump, fret not! There are ways to reignite your research passion! Refer to our helpful Framework for Refueling Your Research Passion.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

“Lifewide Learning:” Developing Resiliency Wherever Life Takes You

Many of us may have heard the term ‘lifelong learning,’ as it relates to an educational journey that may span several decades or even a lifetime. However, this term is often used to refer to the kids of education that happens within formal settings for adults – in classrooms such as on college campuses, or certificate programs that might prepare us for a career in a specific field. The term ‘lifewide learning[1],’ was created to acknowledge that adult learning happens in a nearly infinite range of places and situations, most of them outside the traditional classroom. Although we generally think of learning as intentional or deliberate, lifewide learning acknowledges that learning frequently happens unintentionally. Navigating these unexpected situations as opportunities for growth, no matter how frustrating, help us to develop resilience.

For students ending the semester and reflecting on what they learned from classes, the biggest takeaways may not have been from the syllabus or class assignments. For example, maybe the shock of receiving a bad grade on an important exam caused you to reexamine your time management and study strategies in ways that will ultimately help you succeed later in life. As students across Campus embark on summer internships, or perhaps a new job after graduation, remember that your biggest opportunities for growth may also be spontaneous or unplanned. You might find that your next job experience is something very different than what you expected. Again, rather than dwelling on this disconnect, be open to what you do learn. Uncomfortable or challenging situations can be particularly important opportunities for personal growth, if we are open to the lessons they bring.  


[1] Source: Reischmann, J. (2019). Lifewide learning – Challenges for Andragogy. Journal of Adult Learning, Knowledge and Innovation, 1(1), 43–50. https://doi.org/10.1556/2059.01.2017.2

By Staff Writer: Jennifer Kobrin, Learning Fellow

Wellness: How-To’s! (Staying Unplugged Part 2)

In the last post of this two part series, we considered why unplugging from our phones is important to destress, become more productive, and connect with the people around us. But is unplugging really even possible? Phones have become a ubiquitous part of life in 2019, and in many ways have made life easier. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my phone, and neither would you, possibly (I am thinking about myself and many of our students who got lost while trying to find the Weingarten LRC).

In my last entry, I suggested some simple alternatives to picking up your phone, like taking a deep breath or giving a friend a quick hug. I hope that if you tried them, you felt more connected or relaxed, even if it was only for a moment. My wish is that the more you make unplugging from your phone a habitual practice, the more peace will enter your day, causing you to actually want and need a phone-free space in your life. This is a lot easier said than done, however. Like I tell myself and many of our students, keep trying. Very few things that are worth it feel effortless the first time.

Here are some ideas to help you reduce your daily phone usage:

  • Available for both iPhone and Android, the highly-rated forest app plants an actual forest on your phone’s main screen. Help your forest grow by staying off your phone!
  • If using an app on your phone to stay off your phone sounds too meta, consider asking a friend or partner to join you in your goals. Set a phone free time when you are together and stick to it!
  • Finally, you may wish to consider throwing your phone into the Schuylkill! That’s a joke, but keeping it in a drawer or elsewhere out of site or (gasp) not bringing it with you on your trip to WaWa can help. I’d recommend a cool, dry place.

I hope you enjoyed this two-part series on unplugging from your phone, and good luck!

By Staff Writer: Jennifer Kobrin, Learning Fellow & Instructor

Wellness: Why You Should Unplug (Staying Unplugged Part 1)

Crossing Locust Walk during peak hours can be a risky venture. Twice yesterday, I narrowly missed crashing into students on their way to class, their eyes too fixated by whatever was happening on their phones to notice. It’s easy to judge, but I’m sure I too have been guilty of this unsavory behavior. Although body-slamming another student on Locust Walk would be extremely unpleasant, if we were crossing the street or driving there could have been far worse consequences.

We all know that smartphone use has become an epidemic. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, 26% of Americans go online almost constantly. No pun intended, given that another statistic I found online claimed that 40% of people check their phones on the bathroom. For busy students, phone overuse can be a barrier to productivity and focus, or even cause feelings of anxiety as we compare ourselves to photos of our seemingly happy and healthy friends on social media, outside having fun on a sunny day while we are trapped in the basement of Van Pelt.

The next time you reach for your phone (I am guessing it is at some point as you read this short article), consider the following alternatives:

  • Take a few deep breaths and a moment to check in with yourself today.
  • Stop by to say hello to a coworker or give a friend a hug.
  • Get up and walk around for a few minutes.
  • Go get a healthy snack or a drink.
  • Listen to your favorite song (or try a new dance move, no judging!).

My challenge for you today is to try 2-3 of these strategies. You may find it’s harder than you think. I’ll be back with part two of this series, where we’ll explore strategies to help you unplug from your phone.

By Staff Writer: Jennifer Kobrin, Learning Fellow & Instructor

Wellness: James G. Kaskey Memorial Park, The Biopond and Biology Greenhouses

Biopond @ James G. Kaskey Memorial Park

The James G. Kaskey Memorial Park is a fitting tribute to the first day of Spring, an unassuming nature oasis tucked away within Penn’s urban campus.

“This green space which we call today the James G. Kaskey Memorial Park, or BioPond, was created during the last decade of the nineteenth century, opening as a research garden in 1897. Although the idea for a garden on University of Pennsylvania campus was first presented by Dr. J.T. Rothrock, then chair of the Department of Botany, it was Professor of Botany, Dr. John M. MacFarlane who finally convinced the Biological Department of the special advantages to be gained by reclaiming the waste ground which surrounded the department. Although the area was a scant five acres, generally considered far too small a space for a Botanical Garden, Professor MacFarlane did succeed in transforming waste hills and hollows of sand and gravel into a garden which fulfilled not only the botanical research needs of members of the department, but was also a graceful addition to the University landscape” (Penn Arts & Sciences).

Over the years, it has been renovated (dredged, relined and realigned) for maintenance and sustainability; however, it has lost some of its original acreage due to campus development around it. Nonetheless, it still stands today as a campus treasure.

If you like the outdoors, there are benches and a few picnic tables where you can take in the sun and read/study. I prefer to go for a nice walk when I need a break from my work, and especially pack my lunch there where I can eat al fresco. You will delight in some of the live species that inhabit the pond, such as fish and turtles, if you observe carefully. Now is the best time to enjoy it, before it gets too hot to be outside in the Summer. But crisp Fall-Winter walks are also unexpectedly enjoyable.

As you set out to walk and meander through the paths, cross over bridges or perch on a bench upon which to find a point of rest, consider an analogy to your academic journey:

  • Which paths have your consciously and unconsciously taken thus far?
    • What have they revealed?
    • What have you learned?
  • What experiences, wins and apparent defeats have served as bridges to where you have arrived or hope to arrive?
    • Who or what has kept you connected and/or motivated?
    • What connections have you made?
    • How have you made sense of your experiences?
  • Where have you found rest and support?
    • What is the value of pause and reflection?
    • How do we plan for and schedule rest points in our schedule, in our paths?
    • How will you support others?

Next time you take a study break or seek an outdoors green space for studying, consider the opportunities that the Kaskey Memorial Park, including the biopond and greenhouses, offer for self-reflection, self-assessment, self-nurture and growth.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow