Academic Success: Let’s Talk About Failure


Academic Success: Let's Talk About Failure

In partnership with Academic Success, the Innovation Hub ran student-led feedback sessions to gain a deeper understanding of what it’s like to experience failure at UofT, however students define it, and how it can be supported. These were supportive, inclusive sessions where students can share what happened, how it’s hard, what students wish they had known, and more.

Fall/Winter 2021-2022

How do UofT students experience failure and what are their stories of failure?

Most students experience some form of stress or setback during their education, but UofT students experience academic setbacks in a particular way. Worsened by the narrative of excellence, stories of failure do not appear to be formative of growth and learning at UofT, even though failure or setback is a common part of learning and life. The Division of Student Life Academic Resilience Initiative has partnered with the Innovation Hub to collect student failure stories.


Students need the freedom to fail to become compassionate towards themselves

What does freedom to fail entail? We learnt about failure from student stories—from their reconsidering narrow ideas of achievement, coming to terms with failure and its negative feelings, and feeling free to be themselves fully and more wholly, along with their failures. The freedom to fail involved three themes:
  1. Challenging Narrow Measurements of Success
  2. The Self Struggle
  3. Paradigm Shifts
Theme visual representing the research - includes an individual at the centre, with arrows spiraling outwards representing each theme & need.