This online learning package explores the role of trauma and how this impacts on our learners, and their experiences in the learning environment. This resource offers definitions of trauma, vicarious traumatization and retraumatisation. We consider the association of trauma with minoritised learner experiences. Trauma-informed approaches are considered as measures to accommodate affected learners, thereby enhancing inclusion.
The resource explores how trauma-informed approaches are establishing in higher education, and outlines principles for trauma-informed approaches and practical, classroom strategies educators can use to best support themselves and their students. Wider pedagogical benefits for non-affected students, promoting empathy development are also discussed.


This guidance encourages understanding of the role of trauma and adversity as it may impact on individuals and communities.

An increasingly accepted definition suggests;
Trauma results from event(s) or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as harmful or life-threatening. While unique to the individual, trauma can cause lasting adverse effects, impacting on functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Evidence demonstrates a relationship between traumatic experiences and poorer educational outcomes. This may be due to acute effects of retraumatisation and longer-term effects on belonging and integration in the learning community.

This guidance draws on trauma-informed which states that to be trauma informed means to:

  • understand the role and impacts of trauma and adversity in the lives of individuals
  • apply that understanding to the design and delivery of services in order to accommodate the needs and vulnerabilities of trauma survivors and prevent retraumatisation and revictimization.

These practices are implemented in a range of disciplinary settings including social work, psychology, healthcare and, increasingly, in education.

This resource has been informed by literature review and discussions with educators in other institutions nationally and internationally who have experience in implementing these approaches.

The guidance considers race-based traumatic injury theory, which considers the impacts of minoritised experiences, particularly racism as a collective trauma and we discuss how this is increasingly relevant in teaching and learning.
The resource encourages users to complete a reflective learning cycle, where they reflect on how to develop their practice going forward by implementing trauma-informed approaches.

Measurable Benefits

  1. Promotion of understanding of trauma experiences among learners (and educators) in the Warwick community; how these experiences arise and how approaches to teaching and learning may resonate with trauma experiences.
  2. Encourage recognition of the association of trauma with minoritised experience and the role of trauma in relation to strategies for Inclusive Education.
  3. Support for educators to implement simple and practical strategies in their approach to learning design and development, and curating an effective learning environment.
  4. Encourage role modelling of inclusive and compassionate pedagogies to support learner and educator belonging and wellbeing.

How it Works

  1. This technology-enhanced online resource can be accessed flexibility and revisited at any time.
  2. Users are encouraged to work through each section in their own time and to engage with the interactions throughout the training package. These include watching a video, responding to questions, completing short reflections on own practice and approaches, and looking at suggested responses.
  3. The resource contains a number of information buttons, which when clicked provide additional optional information in particular sections of the resource.
  4. In the final reflection, users are encouraged to consider how they can further develop their practice in this area.

Practical Example

Trauma informed approach: promote the role of peer support in teaching and learning, as a core principle of trauma informed practice.
This may include emphasising the need and expectation for respectful debate and tolerance of diverse experiences and needs in teaching and learning, and supporting others.

Several other practical examples are discussed in the resource, with reference to guiding principles.

Additional Information

The moodle resource can be accessed here.

Individual Perspective

This guidance has been developed in response to research undertaken with (medical) educators and students regarding their experiences of managing distressing content and issues in learning, looking at the varying perspectives and expectations here.
While having conversations with individuals as part of this research it became clear that a more holistic approach to accommodating learners’ needs and experiences, and to promote professional development and inclusion was needed. This led me to discover trauma-informed approaches, which are applied in a range of disciples and organisations and to see how these can be applied to learning contexts to support empathetic professional development and wellbeing. These approaches and training are currently being implemented in my own department.

Additional Resources

Several references and links to further guidance and support are contained in the resource itself.