Chloe Agg: Embedding Wellbeing Skills
Student centred pedagogies, and in particular journaling, have been found to empower students to engage with their learning and construct their own learning environments (Tillapaugh and Haber-Curran, 2013).
As personal wellbeing is inherently something we must to some extent learn about in our own environment, this empowerment and self-constructed learning environment is key to students continuing their action on wellbeing beyond graduation. Journaling is a well-known practice frequently recommended by Wellbeing Services and other psychological support groups as part of a course of action to improve wellbeing and mental health.
The 3rd year dissertation project within the School of Engineering is known to be a particular source of stress for our students and as such it was identified that action needed to be taken to address this. Furthermore, as this is one of the final modules many students complete prior to graduation, it is our last chance to ensure students have the skills they need for industry before departing from academia. Given that this module already incorporated a logbook a journaling methodology was chosen.
Students use an online logbook/portfolio throughout their dissertation projects to record progress in their research, experiments and design. This includes pages on time management, risk, budget, literature and many other topics. As the logbook covers so many elements, adding wellbeing was a natural extension. The students have 1-1 project supervision, which means that they have the opportunity to receive regularly personalised feedback, but also holds them more accountable for taking regular action on their wellbeing. The logbooks are assessed, which also holds the students accountable. Due to the assessment however it was important to ensure students were only obliged to disclose as much information as they felt comfortable with. The wellbeing pages required students to have plans for proactive wellbeing management and to reflect on their plan, rather than on any specific issues they are experiencing.
To support the inclusion of wellbeing into the logbooks, guidance documents were made including videos and exemplars. Wellbeing Services were also invited to attend the module’s regular drop in sessions.
Tillapaugh, D. and Haber-Curran, P., 2013. At the intersection of leadership and learning: a self-study of using student-centered pedagogies in the classroom. Educational Action Research, 21(4), pp.519-531.