Next #LTHEChat Wednesday 24th January 8-9PM (GMT) will be based on questions from Jenny Lawrence and Tim Herrick on the Higher Education and Wellbeing.
Dr Jenny Lawrence PFHEA, AFSEDA (@jennywahwah) is an Association of Colleges HE Scholarship Development Manager, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Hull, Associate of the Higher Education Academy, graduate of the University of Sheffield’s M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning in HE and independent consultant and coach in academic practice. Her research interests include the value and impact of the scholarship of teaching and learning to the HE learning community.Dr Tim Herrick SFHEA () is a Senior University Teacher in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. He teaches on a variety of programmes across the School, and supports colleagues in developing their own scholarly inquiries into learning and teaching.We can understand wellbeing as a state in which: ‘every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’ (World Health Organisation 2014).
Although student wellbeing is understood as compromised by the challenges presented by contemporary student life (tuition fees, graduate employment anxiety, social-media pressures) recent research concludes HE graduates have a greater sense of life satisfaction and are more resilient in the face of adversity than their peers (HEFCE 2017). It seems that in the long term for those passing through HE, it pays dividends in personal wellbeing.
What about the wellbeing of those for whom HE is a constant? For the teachers, learning support and related academic staff who work in HE, for those whom HE is their life? The University and Colleges Union (UCU) has reported year on year increases to workload across UK HE (UCU 2014; 2016), understood to have a detrimental effect on individual stress levels and the personal wellbeing of HE teachers. This has an inevitable negative impact on teaching and learning practices and thus the student experience (UCU, 2016).
So what can we do to address wellbeing for those of us who make HE our lives?
The New Economic Foundation offer an evidence-based model outlining activities that when exercised have the potential to support the realisation of wellbeing for the individual (Aked et al 2008). The ‘Five ways to wellbeing’ is recognised by the HEA as useful to embedding wellbeing in HE curriculum (Haughton and Anderson 2017). Jenny has applied these virtues to the context of Higher Education (Lawrence, 2017), used them as a framework for the ‘Maximising Success: embedding mental wellbeing in the curriculum tool-kit’ (Lawrence, 2016) and related workshop (Hainsworth, 2016). When exploring the impact and value of a programme of accredited educational development (an M.Ed in Teaching and Learning in HE, for which Tim is the programme leader), Jenny and Tim found the participants expressed a sense of wellbeing borne their engagement with this scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) led form of professional development. On closer investigation we came to understood that SoTL-led programmes of educational development provide the time, space, opportunity, and motivation for HE teachers to engage in the five ways to wellbeing in HE, further this has positive outcomes for the wider learning community. Participants recognised their refreshed teaching practice better engaged students, which further energised teaching delivery and motivated the HE teacher to seek our further SoTL-led CPD
The 5 Ways to Wellbeing in HE (Lawrence 2016; 2017) are to:
- connect to the learning process, curriculum content and learning community
- keep active includes physical activity. Jenny also includes active learning and the exercise of social and political agency (Lawrence, 2016; 2017).
- take notice of the learning community, curriculum content, and personal response to both.
- give to the immediate learning or wider community
- and keep learning through the entire student (Houghton & Anderson, 2017) and as Jenny suggests professional lifecycle and beyond (Lawrence, 2016; 2017).
Our HE and wellbeing #LTHEchat will explore the relationship between staff and student wellbeing, and consider how we can support wellbeing across the entire learning community.
We must acknowledge that wellbeing is a complex and deeply personal issue, informed by a host of variables out of our control: physical or mental health; personal history or context; sleep patterns or what we have eaten all play a part in our personal efficacy. We are clear that no process, policy or practice can ensure for the individual a state of wellbeing, but merely ‘create a context where educators [and learners] have every opportunity to realise the 5 ways to it’ (Lawrence, 2017).
Aked, J., Marks, N., Cordon, C., and Thompson, S. (2008). Five ways to well-being: the evidence. A report presented to the Foresight Project on communicating the evidence base for improving people’s well-being. London: New Economics Foundation.
Aked, J. and Thompson, S. (2011). Five ways to wellbeing: new applications, new ways of thinking. London: New Economics Foundation.
Hainsworth, P. (2016). Teach well: embedding mental wellbeing in the curriculum. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/blog/teach-well-embedding-mental-wellbeing-curriculum
Higher Education Funding Council England (2017) The wellbeing of graduates: Assessing the contribution of higher education to graduates’ wellbeing in the UK. London: HEFCE Retrieved from http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2017/201731/
Houghton, A.M., and Anderson, J. (2017). Embedding mental wellbeing in the curriculum: maximising success in higher education. York: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/embedding-mental-wellbeing-curriculum-maximising-success-higher-education
Lawrence, J. (2016). Maximising success in higher education: embedding mental wellbeing in the curriculum tool-kit. York: Higher Education Academy.
Lawrence, J. (2017). Educator wellbeing and the scholarship of teaching and learning: a virtuous intersection for the learning community. Educational Developments, 18.3
University and College Union (2014). UCU Survey of work related stress survey. Summary of fundings. Retrieved from https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/6908/UCU-survey-of-work-related-stress-2014—summary-of-findings-Nov-14/pdf/ucu_stresssurvey14_summary.pdf
University and College Union (2016). Workload is an education issue: UCU workload report 2016. Retrieved from https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/8195/Workload-is-an-education-issue-UCU-workload-survey-report-2016/pdf/ucu_workloadsurvey_fullreport_jun16.pdf