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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Inclusive study space created to help increase productivity for students

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Maria Welzant ’24 sits in the new study space on the ground floor of Bellarmine Hall. PHOTO: SAVANNAH WARNER ’24 / THE HAWK

The St. Joe’s Office of Learning Resources has partnered with Theresa McFalls, director of College Support at the Kinney Center, to create a new study space on the ground floor of Bellarmine Hall, which formerly housed a convenience store.

The study space was created with inclusivity for all students in mind, containing many items meant to enhance focus. According to Kristen Goldberg, M.S., director of the Office of Learning Resources, the space contains numerous types of seating, noise-canceling headphones, whiteboards and fidget objects.

“In addition to traditional furniture and whiteboards, the space also includes two yoga balance ball chairs, two sets of noise-canceling headphones and a dozen fidget objects. Those items are meant to make the space sensory-friendly and are designed to help all students increase their focus,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg first thought of the idea of a new study space while in her doctoral program, the Interdisciplinary Doctor of Education Program for Educational Leaders (IDEPEL). During her Campus Master Planning class, she was required to create a new space on campus, which she later decided to turn into a real idea.

She chose to work with McFalls, as she has an interest and background in inclusive learning on campus with the Kinney Center.

“We had a final project to design a fictional space on campus. I knew my office was planning to open the space mid-semester,”said Goldberg. “So I asked Dr. Heasley if I could focus my project on that space. Theresa had a background in, and interest in, inclusive learning environments. I asked her to partner with me because I thought we could create a truly unique space.” 

According to McFalls, the space was created to be inclusive to all students and attempts to meet their different learning needs. 

“I think we designed this space particularly with ASD, ADHD in mind, those with physical handicaps, but of course everyone has different learning needs, regardless if you have a formal diagnosis or not,” McFalls said. “And so we really tried to be inclusive and think about things that could be utilized by all students.”

Naomi Brooks ’25 has been taking advantage of the study space the last few weeks. She said that the environment is calming and the items provided help students’ productivity.   

“It’s kind of relaxing. They have fidget objects with yoga balls that are really fun,” Brooks said. “They’re supposed to help you focus on studying, but I think they’re fun.”

The study space is currently open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are usually around two to three students there at a time, Goldberg estimates, but there are hopes to raise these numbers as people become aware of the new area. 

“It’s exciting that we were able to do something like this at St. Joe’s that’s outside of the Kinney Center, so it’s more open to just anyone,” McFalls said. 

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