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Tools for Well-being in the Classroom (TWC) piloted in Fall 2021-Spring 2022. 30 faculty/instructors in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 signed up to take action in their courses to impact student well-being and evaluate the outcomes. 60 people attended 5 online events/sessions held in 2021/2022, which sparked knowledge exchange, ideas, and connection.
There is some evidence that this positively impacted students’ and instructors’ experiences in the learning environment. When compared with the Undergraduate Student Survey (UGSS), students who participated in classes that were part of the TWC agreed that their instructors provided learning environments that:
encouraged social connection (68.9% TWC compared to 62.3% UGSS);
were flexible to their needs (77.08% TWC compared to 61.8% UGSS);
were welcoming, respectful, and inclusive (90.39% TWC compared to 89.4% UGSS);
And agreed that instructors cared about their well-being (86.24% TWC compared to 69.9% UGSS).
76% of instructors involved agreed that the project was valuable for their students and 82% agreed it was valuable for themselves.
Note: stats are from Fall 2021
Students & instructors share about their experiences
"Coming to this class was a little escape from all the stress of other classes. Having the opportunity to connect with my classmates and truly make new friendships allowed me to enjoy my time so much more. The way that the class was run with the flipped classroom made it much more exciting going to class compared to sitting there scrambling to take notes as a professor lectures. The activities were great, and I liked how if you came to class and participated you were able to do well." - student
“The relaxation and de-stressing exercises were great. And just knowing that the instructor really understands about these issues was great- this is the most supported I have ever felt in a classroom.” - student
“I felt the professor in my class this semester really cares about her students and their well-being. I would feel comfortable reaching out to her if I was struggling in anyway. Knowing that support is there and seeing her clear care contributed to a positive class environment, and positively impacted my experience.” - student
“It was really nice to have a prompt to help get conversations with new people started. It made it feel less intimidating to talk to someone new. I also loved how open the prompt were, allowing us to engage as lightly or deeply as we liked. I feel like we often started out saying pretty standard things like being stressed about exams, but after a while people started sharing more personal and meaningful things about themselves. The activity made me feel like a part of a community.” - student
"Research data shows that students in higher education are in dire need to improving their mental health. In subjects such as Engineering talking about soft skills such as well-being in TL may not come naturally and may initially intimidate instructors. My personal experience has shown me that when instructors care for and promote well being in learning to their students, a little goes a long way. Students appreciate it and benefit from it, and instructors themselves learn from it." - Atousa Hajshirmohammadi, School of Engineering Science
“I was worried that adding wellbeing content and check-ins would feel forced, or like a checkbox activity, but students loved it and it added energy and engagement to the rest of the lecture.” - Kate Nicholchok, Beedie School of Business
“Participation in this initiative, validated some of what I already knew about building connections and student well-being, and encouraged me to include more opportunities. As I watched my students shift to a community of kindness and support for one another showed my efforts were successful. The smallest effort really can make a world of difference.” - Dr. Sheri Fabian, School of Criminology
“This initiative has proved to be highly rewarding for me and my students. We are now more aware of how important well-being should be in higher education. All forms of instruction should prioritize that.” - Elisabeta Aida Osian, Centre for Digital Media
“It was a flexible program that instructors can include in their class as they see fit and when there is time. The program gave me a few good activity ideas that I plan to keep using in future terms.” - Joanna Niezen, Department of Mathematics
“The best thing about this initiative is the return on investment. The activities took very little time and were easy to run, but made such a difference in how students interacted with both me and each other. I got several messages stating how much they appreciated the efforts. I am excited to keep doing them!” - Diana Bedoya, Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology
“We are living social realities that create a lot of stress, hardship and isolation, and we need to adapt our pedagogies to include mental heath support, in order to build an academic environment that acknowledges this and is supportive of student learning.” - Natasha-Kim Ferenczi, Department of Sociology & Anthropology
“I noticed the positive effect of this on the students and I recommend to embed the activity in their course.” - Mehran Ahmadi, School of Sustainable Energy Engineering
“The support, resources, and list of activities made it very easy to participate in the project. It helped me come up with new ideas.” - Fall 2021 TWC participant
“My students said in class that they enjoyed taking the time to connect at the start of class. It made our class more relaxed, and I think it helped them to trust me more and to recognize that I was their ally - they approached me for help, asked for extensions when they needed them, and were transparent about their own challenges so that I could help them. This made teaching far easier.” - Fall 2021 TWC participant
“There are small and easy things that you can do that make a big difference to students' well being, and this is particularly meaningful now, considering how stressful and chaotic life can be. So please get involved and pick one thing to try this semester. Then try another small thing the following semester. Each step forward will make a big difference in how your students perceive and interact with you, your course, and this unpredictable world we live in :).” - Kevin Lam, Department of Biological Sciences
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