Seminar Series & Grants Program

Exploring Well-being in Learning Environments: An Integrated Seminar Series and Grants Program

Health Promotion and the Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD) partnered to offer a well-being stream as part of a seminar series and grants program in 2019-2022. 

Participants in this program attended seminars to learn more about ways to create conditions for well-being in learning environments, connect with colleagues, and provide input and get feedback among the group to shape the development of project proposals that address well-being related inquiries they are interested in exploring in their classes. Program participants implemented projects and evaluated change in their classes or departments on a variety of different topics related to well-being in learning environments, including: instructor support, flexibility, social connection, inclusivity, and supportive classroom culture.

Highlight of outcomes

100% of respondents in this cohort shared that they:

“feel part of a community of people working towards creating well-being in learning environments”

“understand the impacts of learning environments on student well-being”

“learned something new about well-being in learning environments” and “intend to do something different in future to support student well-being”

Comments from students who were in a class that participated in the program

  • “It kinda gives you that feeling you know, that people care right that you're probably not alone in this stress you're feeling so and that it's okay and you know, there's tips and tricks for maybe how you can deal with it. So, I very much enjoyed all of these sessions and I think they're great”

  • “It is great knowing that the professor cares about the student. Though I never used it [the grace period], it was great knowing that in the back of my head.”

  • “I think that it really established environment that's positive for me because it shows how much [the professor] care about the student. So I don't feel as anxious asking questions or reaching out or about deadlines or anything because it shows that [instructors] really value mental health and wellness over grades and those kind of things so I think it made my learning experience in this course. A lot better A lot more positive and I was able to retain a lot more information than I would when I'm stressing out and I'm wearing not looking forward to coming to class and in general. I just feel like it was really safe and comfortable space that you created with these check-ins.” 

  • “Yeah, it does make a difference when you know your professor cares like the fact that he allowed us to make groups and have a group portion of our exam makes a big difference because lots of people get exam anxiety and they do bad and bomb it, but the fact that he actually cares makes a big difference in the vibe/atmosphere”

Comments from instructors who participated in the program:

  • “Students have appreciated the effort I put into this project for their wellbeing. I felt a sense of community and closeness both between me and my students, and among the students themselves.”

  • “The project demonstrated the importance of paying attention to students’ well-being and how much having check-in sessions helped with having a positive classroom environment. Students felt they are cared for and as a result, they were more comfortable reaching out or asking questions. It changed our understanding about the extent of care students need and the influence instructors can have on students. By having similar sessions in other courses, we can hopefully repeat the positive effect of the sessions.”

  • “Hearing from students through the focus groups – and anecdotally from casual conversations with students – fomented my belief that community-building and social connections are fundamental aspects of the university experience. Since coming to SFU, I have, at times, felt discouraged by the structural impediments (e.g., location) and folklore of an “unfriendly” university. This project has helped me recommit to putting emphasis on social connection in my teaching.”

  • “Through engaging in the workshops and work for this project, I have become more aware of pedagogically effective ways we can facilitate student well-being. I have also become more mindful about practices I have already been doing in my teaching. I have often incorporated course components with the goal of increasing students’ sense of community in my courses, and students’ sense of engagement with the class. I am more mindful of the ways these may also affect student well-being.”