Language of Life and Learning

word and image cards for reflection and connection

Abigail Lipson, Ph.D. and Sheila M. Reindl, Ed.D.
Bureau of Study Counsel, Harvard University

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Why are conversations about our thoughts and feelings important?

  • Opportunities to explore and share one’s experiences are a core principle in college student development.1
  • Precision in the use of language is a key factor in college student learning.2
  • Effective communication about one’s concerns and feelings in a supportive environment helps to (a) relieve stress, (b) facilitate adjustment and adaptation, and (c) contribute to resilience.3
  • Communication competence is associated with college students’ academic success and persistence.4
  • The integration of emotion and cognition is an essential aspect of health brain development during the adolescent and young adult years.5


Magolda, Marcia Baxter. Making Their Own Way: Narratives for Transforming Higher Education to Promote Self-Development. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2001. 
2 Light, Richard J. Making the Most of College. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.
3 [a] Five Tips to Help Manage Stress. American Psychological Association. 2014. Accessed 18 February 2014.; [b] Lapore, Stephen J., Jennifer D. Ragan, and Scott Jones. “Talking Facilitates Cognitive-Emotional Processes of Adaptation to an Acute Stressor.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78.3 (2000): 499-508. [c] Brooks, Robert and Sam Goldstein. The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2004.
4 Hawken, Leila, Robert L. Duran, and Lynne Kelly. “The Relationship of Interpersonal Communication Variables to Academic Success and Persistence in College.”Communication Quarterly 39.4 (fall 1991): 297-308.
5 Immordino-Yang, Mary Hellen and Antonio Damasio. “We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education.” Mind, Brain, and Education 1.1 (March 2007): 3-10. Journal Compilation by International Mind, Brain, and Education Society and Blackwell Publishing. Wiley Online Library. Accessed 14 February 2014.

The Language of Life and LearningTM is available for purchase for $105 per deck (includes U.S. postage). 

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