2013. 11 - 2013. 12

- Imagining the future of learning/living on campus. More info please click here


ResEd.Compass is a project partnered with Stanford Residential Education to help students gain skills of self-reflection to clarify learning goals, release stress, and increase happiness. In 2020, we hope every student can master self-reflection techniques to live a balanced life. Meanwhile, a more human-centered campus learning/living experience will blossom in Stanford.

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(Design details please see below)


 In future Stanford where online learning may be prevailing, campus experience will become more unique and irreplaceable. Therefore, what should we do to give students much better campus experience at Stanford in 2020?  At the @Stanford project, different teams explore different topics, including accreditation, future library, Residential Education (us), and experience institute. My group partnered with the Residential Education (ResEd), and we approached the "coming of age" problem from the residential perspective. 


Through our survey and interviews about happiness/failure, "coming of age," and freshman's general feeling about Stanford, we identified several big themes: 

  • The gap between the reality and the expectation (the perceived Stanford is very different from what they are experiencing at the beginning of their college life.)
  • The cycle of prestige (Many students avoid to take relatively high risks because they are afraid of failure -  they are always "excellent" students, and they cannot fail.)
  • Use the "external" value system to guide through the college life. (Many students blindly follow what they are told or what other students are doing rather than actively pursing their own goal because of various reasons, e.g. no security/uncertainty)

Some of the students' quotes:

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“Coming of age” is a learning process of finding who you are and what you want; self-reflection is the compass showing you the direction to move forward with confidence in the life journey. Time is not the barrier to self-reflection, perception of its value is.


Indoor one-week reflection workshop + Outdoor one night reflection camping at Lake Lag 

I. One-week reflection workshop [Two major workshops + small daily activities]

Because of the time and resource constraints, we decided to run a one-week reflection workshop in an understand dorm. 5 students signed up. The workshop consists of two one-hour workshops and one-week small daily activities/reflection journaling.


Workshop flow:  Intro -  Priming - Reflection - Group Sharing - Learning Materials Intro - Recap 

The workshop happened in the dorm lounge at 1pm on a Sunday. Students all got their journal and pens. The music was played during the whole workshop to create a relaxing environment. Students were given time to consider questions like, "What's your definition of failure?" "What's your happiness level now?" "How do feel about Stanford so far?" Students were encouraged to note down or sketch their thoughts on the journal. They were also given time to share with each other. At the end, we gave them some scientific studies and experience about "coming to age," the power of self-reflection, and happiness. 


We provided artifacts to facilitate the whole workshop activities. Here are three samples.


  • "Daily reflection activity card": identify 5 things that you do the best and consider where they can fit in their Stanford lives. (We sent out this kind of card every day to students via emails. Students reported that they really liked the one that encouraged them to do something small, but grateful.)
  • "Complex Brain": Draw the most important things in your life, and the portion means the importance level. (We then introduced the psychology term, "complexity" - the more "complex" you are = the more things you value in your life, the more stable you life will be, so you will not be trapped or stressed out by only grades, etc.) 
  • The journal: is handmade and  imported from Nepal. Its texture is very raw - we wanted to convey a sense of intimacy, privacy, and simplicity. Also we asked the students to draw a thing on the journal to represent themselves - we wanted to create a sense of belongingness. All students reported the journal to be very helpful, and it's their favorite. 



We considered the space to be very important to engage everyone, so we were actively experimenting different spaces around campus. 

  • Lighting: the good combination of shadow and light will create a sense of zen - the intertwining dynamics and statics. You can see the dust slowing flowing in the air. 
  • Sound: calming music can help people get into a different mode - slowing down, slowing down, slowing down...
  • Decoration: books, candles, artistic decoration, and table cloth all can create a homey feeling - very easy to release stress and let the mind flow.
  • Color tone: warm color makes people feel cozy as well.
  • Air circulating: soft wind gently brings in more energy. 
  • Animal: there is a cat sitting on a chair. Pet can bring more fun into the whole reflection process. 



II. Outdoor one night reflection camping at Lake Lag

We set up 5 tents at Lake Lag and 7 students participated. 

Activity flow:  warm-up activity - intro - reflection activity [watch stars - share thoughts] - sleep time

All the participants liked the "gazing star" activity - they thought it's an amazing experience. Usually people are more vulnerable at nights, and this kind of experience can easily create a bond among the participants, so they will become more open to share their deep thoughts and really quiet down internally. 


Here are two feedbacks from our participants:

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OUR SOLUTION - RedEd.Compass project

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How does it work? 

  • You, as the Stanford freshman, will have a Compass Orientation at the beginning of your Stanford life. You will be introduced the Compass team who will help you build up the soft skills, such as resilience, growth mindset, and self-regulation, through self-reflection-related activities. 
  • At the end of the first quarter, you will experience a whole different week called Compass Calibration Week. During the time, you will experience many self-reflection themed activities individually or with others. You may also go outside the dorm and live with other students together to spend the whole week. The main purpose of the Compass Calibration Week is to help you debrief the life at Stanford and re-gain focus. 
  • At the end of the year, you will have one day Compass Debrief session about your Compass experience. 
  • Meanwhile, the Compass team, which consists of psychologists, career planner, nutritionist, and space designer, will provide you with daily mind stretch activities. They will also design special space, like Reflection Loft, for you to enjoy a different self-reflection experience. 
  • At the time you graduate from Stanford, you can choose to come back to join Compass Alumni and help the new class. 

* Compass Team will be hired by Residential Education. 


Teammates: Jess, Ivy, Borui, Pam, Qyuen, Shigeki 

Time: 4 Weeks 



I personally learned so much from this project, and I really love my teammates! 

Self-reflectionI have been doing self-reflection for over 7 years, but I just treat it as a habit. However, after the deep investigation from this project, I realized that self-reflection is like a mirror that reflects who you are and what you really want, so that I can see my path more clearly. The power of clarity is unpredictable. It gives me confidence and motivation to move forward.

Coming of age: Coming of age happens during college. However, you need to find jobs after graduate as well. So basically we need to finish 1. coming of age 2. study hard 3. find a job within 4 years. It's hard to image how much the pressure will be if you are a perfectionist at Stanford. Therefore I do think school should give support to help students get through the process naturally. In retrospect, I would appreciate so much if there was a person to support me emotionally. 

Team work: Diverse team is great, but also hard to release everyone's potential to reach synergy. During this project, I have learned how to balance your opinion with others, how to position yourself in the team, and how to contribute the most for the whole team. There will be obstacles, but there will be solutions to conquer them as well. 

Design process: We used the Design Thinking methodology and many techniques to tackle this project. For example, we used the Analysis Map (see below) to make sense of our data and dig out the hidden relations. 

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