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Wellbeing Pedagogies

This Learning Circle, which was led by Elena Riva and Martin Mik, is closed.

The WIHEA Wellbeing Pedagogies Learning Circle (LC), co-led by Dr Elena Riva and Dr Martin Mik, was created in the academic year 2018-19, with the aim to bring together Fellows interested in exploring and shaping 'Wellbeing Pedagogies’. Since its creation, it engaged on average 20 members, mainly current and past WIHEA Fellows, but also a number of members outside the WIHEA fellowship, namely colleagues from Wellbeing Support Services.

The work of the Learning Circle has highlighted the need for wellbeing to be embedded in all aspects of University activities, for both staff and students, and it has in particular foregrounded the crucial importance of embedding and sustaining wellbeing in both the curriculum and the learning and teaching environment. Embedding wellbeing in the curriculum also supports the Inclusive Education Strategy recently developed, as it can foster many of the aspects of the inclusive learning environment, while sustaining personal and collective wellbeing. 

In particular, the Circle was to be a space for:

  • Sharing practice;
  • Thinking of how we can design a whole educational experience, from teaching space, to curriculum, to activities, to reading materials, and to assessment, that supports positive student wellbeing;
  • Exploring the existing literature;
  • Engaging with the different stakeholders across Warwick University for improving students and staff wellbeing in the teaching and learning environment.

The work of the Learning Circle was sub-divided into the following streams (fluctuating in activity over the years):

  • Wellbeing and Governance
  • Embedding wellbeing at modular level
  • Embedding wellbeing at course/University level
  • Wellbeing in the community (also looking at Staff Wellbeing)

Despite the fact that 18 months of the Learning Circle’s existence coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic and was therefore affected by the reduced ability of staff to engage with activities not critical to their role, a number of tasks were successfully completed by members of the Learning Circle.

Projects and initiatives:

  • Development of the Warwick Open Access Online Module ‘Understanding Wellbeing’ aimed at increasing wellbeing literacy across the entire student community at Warwick. This not-for-credits (not for CATS) module aims to provide you with a safe space and support to begin or continue your own wellbeing journey, and you can explore the module at your own pace throughout the academic year. Engaging with different sections of the module (Bronze, Silver and Gold levels) will provide you with Level Certificates, relative HEAR Accreditations and points toward the Warwick award.

The module was co-created by Dr Elena Riva with cross-faculty students and trialled by SLS, WBS and History in the Autumn Term 2021/2022 before opening to all Warwick students in the Spring Term 2021/2022. Since then, over 5,000 Warwick students have taken the module and over 500 students have thus far obtained assessed HEAR accreditation for this module, evidencing its value for them. Times Higher Education (THE) has celebrated the participatory module’s design approach as innovative and excellent pedagogic practice (Riva and Jeglinska, 2022).

Moreover, the module has been adopted by Glasgow School of Arts (GSA) and Arden University and more universities are exploring this opportunity (i.e., Salford University).

The University of Copenhagen also launched the module in the academic year 2022/2023, after a year of collaboration in developing the 'Danish version' of it (in Danish language). Copenhagen has decided to adopt our module as a cornerstone for enhancing their students’ wellbeing literacy (Koushede, 2020) and they have funded its creation (£12,000).

All this work has translated strongly through our input into the Wellbeing Strategy, and is captured in the Strategic Aim 2 (Develop a suite of prevention activities to increase knowledge skills and confidence in relation to wellbeing and mental health) and in particular: Objective 2.5 Embed wellbeing in the curriculum, recognising the impact positive wellbeing has on students’ learning and attainment.

This objective has a series of action points that have been fulfilled or suggested by the Circle activities and work:

1. Support the developing of wellbeing pedagogies/curricular approaches/activities within academic departments and other services that support and deliver learning experience, based on the review/mapping and utilising the open access online resource library.

Achieved (see above) but it needs further dissemination.    

2. Produce a 'myth buster' (introducing wellbeing does not mean 'dumbing down the curriculum') - link to the resource library to provide simple examples of how to embed wellbeing without changing the curriculum drastically.

Achieved (see above) but it needs further dissemination.

3. Promotion of wellbeing literacy and wellbeing pedagogies at module and course levels, as well as extra-curricular (e.g. through running workshops across Departments – similarly to the Masterclasses delivered in the past 18 months, see below).

The Circle has created a model for embedding wellbeing literacy and pedagogies but dissemination across Departments needs to be more widely carried out.  

The Open Access Module ‘Understanding Wellbeing’, aimed at increasing wellbeing literacy of all Warwick students, has also been developed and successfully launched (see above).

4. Embedding wellbeing pedagogies and curricular activities/strategies that improve students' wellbeing in the learning and teaching setting (e.g. by providing input into module/course design guidance provided by EPQ; working with ADC on providing guidance to staff via APP programmes; introducing a specific item in TEG meetings).

Initial investigation work has been completed by the LC but further investigation is needed, as well as close collaboration with Inclusive Education Strategy Delivery Team and the Curriculum Review Team.

The work of the Learning Circle has also contributed to the Strategic Aim 3 (Ensure that all mental health and wellbeing initiatives are informed by data, research and intelligence to provide agile and flexible responses that are robust and evidenced based), namely:

  • Objective 3.4: Develop a library that identifies data driven approaches for embedding wellbeing in within the curriculum.  

    Achieved – see above.


Additional Dissemination:

Members of this Circle included:

Elena Riva (Co-Lead)

Martin Mik (Co-Lead)

Liz Blagrove

Lauren Schrock

David Lees

Bo Kelestyn

Joanne Lee

Louise Gracia

Rebecca Freeman

Rachel Dickinson

Helen Toner

Adam Miller

Tiana Holgate

Ruth Leary

Leticia Villamediana Gonzalez

Nicholas Jackson

Claire Rocks

Sam Parr

Ant Brewerton

Emily Harros