Attending to Student Well-Being

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Author: Kelly Jo Fulkerson Dikuua, PhD August 16, 2022
 

Within the classroom or clinical setting, faculty members can support student well-being by applying principles of Universal Design for Learning, centering transparency and accessibility, and cultivating an inclusive, welcoming course environment.  Beyond the classroom, faculty members often have a front-row view of the personal struggles students face. Life circumstances–whether interpersonal problems, housing or food insecurity, mental health, physical ailments, etc.–often impact learning and class performance. Additionally, some students deal with obstacles relating to the learning environment, including learning disabilities, systemic barriers, and/or anxiety around school, etc. Sometimes these issues are much broader than what a faculty member can address and students need professional support, such as from SASSI or UTHSC’s counseling resources. Additionally, it can be helpful to have on-hand resources like the Campus Cupboard or local shelters.

 
Use the comments section below to let us know your ideas about student well-being.

  1. Use transparency: Utilize transparency with your expectations, assignments, and feedback. Using clear learning objectives, signposting when you are giving feedback, and sharing rubrics for assessments can help students feel confident they can succeed and support their wellbeing.

  2. Invite students as co-creators: Studies show that allowing students to participate in policymaking, whether at a university-level, departmental-level, or even with the syllabus and course structure, can promote feelings of autonomy and wellbeing. (Baik, et al.)

  3. Be flexible & communicative: Are there places in your course that you could provide flexible deadlines? Or a penalty-free policy for late assignments, within reason? If you cannot be flexible in some areas, explain why to your students. Opening lines of communication around deadlines and maintaining reasonable flexibility can support student wellbeing.

  4. Share resources: Know campus resources available for students who come to you for support with mental health, financial challenges, or other life situations. As much as faculty often want to assist students, remember your own wellbeing is important and it is more helpful to refer a student to a professional than try to work through a problem with them.