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Conflict Resolution Tools and Tips for Students

Conflict is perhaps an inevitable part of most students' life, but it doesn't have to be just a source of tension and distraction. Conflict can actually provide some good learning opportunities, and can open up stuck relationships, making it possible for them to deepen and mature. In this section, we provide links to some tools and information that might help you make the most of conflict when it takes center stage in your life.

Roommate Conflict Resolution

Roommate Survival Guide is a helpful guide to resolving roommate disputes, including those that involve more than just one roommate in the mix. It was developed by the folks at the Student Legal Assistance office at Northern Illinois University.

The website ResidentAssistant.com provides support for students working as RA's. Their Roommate Conflict section includes comments from RA's on approaches to handling roommate conflict resolution as well as a few sample handouts to be used before or after a roommate dispute arises.

ResLife.net, another residence life oriented website, provides an article called Resolving Roommate Conflicts written by Jeanne Clark, Residence Hall Director at Quinnipiac College.

Consider these Ten Tips for Managing Conflict, Tension and Anger by Clare Albright, Psy.D.

Group Conflicts

It seems that faculty are using group assignments more than ever. However, as students know, the groups you get are not always well-balanced or composed of the folks you would pick if you had the choice. Even when working with friends, conflicts can and will crop up. A handout on working in groups called Group Diseases in the Science Classroom: A Reference Guide to Symptoms and Treatments provides some sage advice about navigating the group experience.

Puzzled About Teams is a downloadable pdf handbook for students working in teams. It was developed by the folks at the Schreyer Institute for Innovation in Learning at Penn State. It includes a section specifically on conflict resolution. Warning: clicking the link starts the pdf download.

General Tips and Advice

This article on Resolving Conflict in Friendships is an article by Kristin Feenstra from a site called IAMNEXT that brings a Christian perspective to social issues facing students.

Tips for Resolving Conflict from the Student Conflict Resolution Service at the University of Colorado at Boulder provides some straightforward steps for talking things through with another person you are in a conflict with.

Materials Especially for Graduate Students

Graduate students often face conflicts and disagreements with their advisors. This can be a delicate area for many students, because the power of the advisor to make life within the department uncomfortable if things don't go well.

Finding and Dealing with an Advisor is a short selection that provides some ways to think about your job finding an advisor and navigating your relationship with them. It is from Graduate School in the Computer and Mathematical Sciences: A Survival Manual by Dianne Prost O'Leary.

The Graduate School at Michigan State University has developed a program seeking to reduce graduate student and advisor conflicts. The program, called Setting Expectations and Resolving Conflicts, seeks to clarify areas of misunderstanding early, and to help in the setting of reasonable individual and departmentwide norms of behavior. Included is a sample video clip (requires RealPlayer to view) used to stimulate discussion.

The CalTech Ombuds office provides materials on conflict resolution, including a section on Grad Student-Advisor Issues. Includes "You and Your Advisor: Establishing Good Relationships"; "Tips on Resolving Issues Productively" and "After the Discussion."