Thriving in the Classroom

According to Dr. Laurie Schreiner, student thriving has five dimensions:

Academic Determination

Schreiner describes academic determination as the motivation, attitudes, and behaviors that students use to navigate challenges in their learning. She breaks academic determination into subskills that include students' abilities to invest effort, self-regulate, have environmental mastery, and develop goal-directed thinking. These elements of thriving are especially highlighted in the metacognition, resilience, and promoting a positive perspective modules.

Engaged Learning

Engaged learning is the students' abilities for meaningful processing, focused attention, and active participation. "Engaged learning occurs when students are meaningfully processing the material, making connections between what they already know or are interested in and what needs to be learned. They are focused and attentive to new learning opportunities and actively think about and discuss with others what they are learning. In short, they are energized by the learning process." (Schreiner, 2010a, p. 4) In this way, we can see the importance of faculty and instructors in facilitating learning environment where students can thrive.

Diverse Citizenship

The Thriving Quotient frames diverse citizenship as "a complex combination of an openness and valuing of differences in others, an interest in relating to others from diverse backgrounds, a desire to make a contribution in the world and the confidence to do so, and what psychologist Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset”—the belief that change is possible with effort." (Schreiner, 2010a) There are several avenues for cultivating diverse citizenship in our curricula; the teamwork, the difficult conversations, inclusive practices and positive perspectives contribute to this subject.

Social Connections

As one expect social connections is about, "having friends, being in relationships with others who listen, and experiencing a sense of community within the college environment." (Schreiner, 2010a) For faculty and instructors, we can help foster social connections through meaningful classroom activities, well-structured guides to classroom interaction, and increase the varieties of representation in our teaching content. See the modules on teamwork, difficult conversations, and inclusive teaching.

Positive Perspective

Schreiner describes positive perspective as: "a way of perceiving events and the type of strategies one uses to cope with difficulties. In a nutshell, students with a positive perspective keep trying; even when progress is slow or difficult, they remain confident of their ability to achieve the final outcome and therefore persist in the face of challenges." (Schreiner, 2010a) Please see the metacognition, resilience, and positive perspective modules in particular.

Thriving in the Classroom eLearning modules

The Centre for Teaching and Learning has created six eLearning modules in OWL to help you foster the learning conditions that help your students thrive at Western. Each module will take about 1.5 hours to complete, and will include readings and videos, reflection questions, activities, and additional resources to support your learning. The modules can be accessed by joining the Thriving in the Classroom OWL site.


Thriving Through Teamwork

This module encourages instructors to evaluate, revise and strengthen their existing team projects. The principal goal is to provide you with pedagogically-informed best practices and hands-on activities that you can quickly and readily apply in practical ways. We'll also draw your attention to thriving principles of engaged learning, social connectedness, positive perspective and diverse citizenship strengthen and support best practices in teamwork design and practice. 

Thriving and Metacognition

This module explore how faculty and instructors can build courses to support student metacognition in deep ways. The literature shows that when we demonstrate and encourage metacognition throughout a course, students are more engaged and are much more likely to thrive during their university years -- and beyond. We will explore a process for building a course on a foundation of metacognition for increased student success and thriving.

Removing Barriers to Student Thriving: Trauma-informed Pedagogical Practices

This module on teaching for student thriving centers on raising awareness of trauma-informed pedagogical practices. Being aware of what trauma is and is not can help us introduce small, but powerful, curricular changes. These changes benefit everyone on campus, but those who bear trauma will benefit especially well. Working, teaching, and responding to trauma-informed practices contributes to everyone's thriving at Western.

Difficult Dialogues and Sensitive Subjects in our Curricula

There are times when we want to or need to have difficult dialogues in the classroom. Having students tackle a sensitive subject that is pertinent to their learning requires significant preparation. Helping students wrestle with controversial topics can provide them with a better understanding of they we are and their relationships with other people.

Developing an Inclusive Teaching Practice

Inclusive teaching is about fostering a sense of belonging in your classroom, in your institution, and in your discipline. This belonging is related not only to social connectedness, but also through learning environments where students feel that they are active participants in constructing knowledge and feel that their needs as a learner are being satisfied (Rovai, 2002; Schreiner, 2010). This module touches upon inclusive pedagogical strategies, both small and large, that anyone can implement in their own classroom as part of contributing to a thriving culture at Western.

Promoting a Positive Perspective

This module allows you to help students cultivate a positive perspective, even when it doesn't come naturally for them...or for you! The lessons in this module equip you to teach students how to respond to stressful moments in the classroom to promote thriving, reframe failure as an essential component of learning, defeat imposter syndrome, apply student strengths through partnerships that allow them to achieve their goals, and develop a growth mindset as a strategy for academic success.

Limitations of the Thriving model

There is much to recommend about Dr Schreiner's work as we have outlined above. Her anti-deficit approach is particularly noteworthy, and much of the work she draws upon is well-founded research on positive psychology. As one would expect with any paradigmatic framework, there are limitations. While the thriving quotient does address BIPOC students in predominantly white institutions (PWI), there are some who point to an underestimation of the institutionalized forms of racism and marginalization in the thriving research. (e.g. Okello & Perez, 2018). Moreover, the Thriving Quotient research has not put significant effort into the experiences of international, indigenous, LGBTQ+, commuter, or returning adult students. The extent to which the experiences of these latter populations would have on the Thriving Quotient research has yet to be determined. At the same time, one can see many ways in which Schreiner's Thriving Quotient research could well apply to remote and hybrid learning. Still, little has been published on correlating factors of thriving with online education.

Further Reading

  • Okello, W. K., & Perez, D., Ii. (2018). "Don't believe the hype": Complicating the thriving quotient for latino undergraduate men at selective institutions. About Campus, 22(6), 27-31.
  • Schreiner, L. A. (2010a). The “Thriving Quotient”: A New Vision for Student Success. About Campus, 15(2), 2–10.
  • Schreiner, L. A. (2010b). Thriving in the classroom. About Campus15(3), 2–10.
  • Schreiner, L. A. Michelle Louis, and Denise Nelson (Editors) (2012) Thriving in Transitions: A Research- Based Approach to College Student Success. Columbia, South Carolina: National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.


If you need help incorporating something you have learned in one of our Thriving in the Classroom eLearning modules into your course, please contact one of our educational developers.