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Dr Elena Riva - IATL Head of Department

Elena is Head of Department at the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning - (IATL), Associate Professor (Reader), WIHEALink opens in a new window Alumna, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education AcademyLink opens in a new window, and National Teaching Fellow (2023)Link opens in a new window.

Elena, who joined IATL in October 2015, develops new interdisciplinary modules, events, and activities that explore complex and global scientific topics and issues, creating connections between the scientific disciplines and the humanities. She developed and convenes the IATL modules Genetics: Science and SocietyLink opens in a new window, Understanding Wellbeing: Theory and Practice Link opens in a new windowand Thinking Water. She previously served as IATL Director of Studies (2017-2021) and as IATL Director of Education (2022-2023).

She was the recipient of the 2018 Warwick Teaching Excellence Award and she was also awarded the honour of the Butterworth Award, which recognises individuals with six or fewer years of experience teaching in higher education. She received again the Warwick Teaching Excellence Award in 2020Link opens in a new window in recognition to her work in the field of wellbeing in the teaching and learning environment. In 2023, for her work in these fields she also received the prestigious National Teaching FellowshipLink opens in a new window.

She serves as External Adviser on the "Open"Link opens in a new window Board of Studies, the cross-Faculty curriculum offering at The Open University. Elena is also the External Approval Panel Member for the "Ruskin Modules"Link opens in a new window offering, the interdisciplinary provisionLink opens in a new window of Anglia Ruskin University.

Elena also serves as a Times Higher Education CampusLink opens in a new window reader panel member.

Pedagogic Research Interests

Elena's main pedagogic research efforts are dedicated to the exploration of the impact of the learning and teaching experience on student and staff wellbeing in Higher Education.

Key findings of her work indicate how to support students’ wellbeing throughout their learning experience; this is a strand of pedagogic research that she is leading at an institutional level and beyond as evidenced by a sustained record of grants awarded by national and international funding bodies (for over £700K in total in the past 5 years), publications on internationally relevant peer-reviewed pedagogic journals, invited keynote talks to conferences and regular invitations to contribute to the Times in Higher Education (THE).

Her research work is underpinned by the pioneering use of participatory methods (co-creation) for tackling issues that affect the university experience of often neglected categories of students. For example, Elena is currently the University of Warwick PI for the Office for StudentsLink opens in a new window funded project Positive Digital PracticesLink opens in a new window (2020 - 2022) that aims to embed and sustain positive practices that support mental wellbeing for part-time, commuter and distance learning students. This project is a joint effort with the Open University, The University of Bradford, Student Minds, Jisc and UMHAN.

Elena serves on both the Warwick Student and Workforce Wellbeing Strategy Groups and played a key role in the development of the Warwick Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2024Link opens in a new window.

Resources created by Elena

Explore some of the resources that Elena has created for supporting wellbeing positive learning experiences:

Recent pedagogic publications

- Riva, E.,* Stewart-Brown, S., Rahman, Y., Gerson, J., Ashworth, S. Can an academic, interdisciplinary intervention help to solve wellbeing issues among higher education students? in Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching: Practice and Pedagogies Link opens in a new window, Ethics Press, Cambridge, Forthcoming.

- Lister, K., Riva, E., Hartley, A., Waterhouse, P., Moller, N., Downes, L., Coughlan, T., Kukulska-Hulme, A., McPherson, E., Macdonald, I., Jones-Tinsley, S., Brown, C., Tudor, R., 2024, Positive Digital Practices: Supporting Positive Learner Identities and Student Mental Wellbeing in Technology Enhanced Higher Education,Link opens in a new window Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2024(1): 5, 1–20. DOI: opens in a new window 

- Slates, S., Cook-Sather, A., Riva, E., et al. How can students-as-partners work address challenges to student, faculty, and staff mental health and well-being?Link opens in a new window. International Journal for Students As Partners, 2023, 7(2), 221–240. DOI:

- Riva, E., Meyer, H. Reconceptualise the classroom for enhanced student engagementLink opens in a new window, Times in Higher Education, October 2023.

- Lister, K., Riva, E.,* Kukulska-Hulme, A., Fox, C. Participatory digital approaches to embedding student wellbeing in higher education Link opens in a new window, Frontiers Education, 2022, 7:924868. DOI: 10.3389/feduc.2022.924868.

- Riva, E., Gracia, L., Limb, R. Co-creation: how to find the ‘super’ in supervision Link opens in a new window, Times in Higher Education, August 2022.

- Riva, E.,* Gracia, L., Limb, R. Using Co-Creation to Facilitate PhD Supervisory RelationshipsLink opens in a new window, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 2022, 46(7), 913-930. DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2021.2021158.

- Riva, E., Jeglinska, W. Co-creating an interdisciplinary well-being module for all studentsLink opens in a new window, Times in Higher Education, January 2022.

- Riva, E., Mik, M. Wellbeing in Higher Education, Modern History Review, 2021, 23 (4), 28-29.

- Riva, E. Well-being pedagogies: activities and practices to improve the student experience onlineLink opens in a new window, Times in Higher Education, February 2021. This article on Wellbeing Pedagogies was one of the most read resources on THE in 2021. To celebrate this, Elena featured on a Times in Higher Education podcast about her contribution. You can listen to the podcast hereLink opens in a new window.

- Riva, E.,* Freeman, R., Schrock, L., Jelicic, V., Özer, C-T., Caleb, R. Student Wellbeing in the Teaching and Learning Environment: A Study Exploring Student and Staff PerspectivesLink opens in a new window,Higher Education Studies, 2020, 4, 103-115.

♣ You can check all my peer-reviewed publications, including contributions to top Chemistry and Biology journals hereLink opens in a new window.

Elena obtained a master degree (2007) and a PhD (2010) in Chemistry from the University of Milan. After holding a Research Associate position in the Chemistry Department at the University of Cambridge (2011), she became a Research Fellow in the Chemistry Department at the University of Warwick (2012) and was subsequently awarded an IAS Postdoctoral Fellowship. You can read all about her scientific research in several articles that have been published in top-ranking chemistry and biology journals.


E dot Riva at warwick dot ac dot uk


024 761 50531


Senate House