Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Dr Elena Riva - IATL Head of Department

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

For her ground-breaking contributions to interdisciplinary education, she was honoured with the Warwick Teaching Excellence Award and the prestigious Butterworth Award, bestowed upon individuals with six or fewer years of experience in higher education teaching. Her dedication to enhancing student learning and experience was further recognised when she received again the Warwick Teaching Excellence Award in 2020Link opens in a new window particularly for her impactful work in embedding wellbeing in the curriculum. In 2023, she achieved the esteemed National Teaching Fellowship Link opens in a new windowin acknowledgment of her outstanding contributions to these fields.

Elena is a Warwick International Higher Education AcademyLink opens in a new window Alumna and an Honorary Fellow of the Warwick Institute for Engagement.Link opens in a new window

Elena serves as an External Examiner for the University College for Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL)Link opens in a new window at the University of Manchester and for the Combined Studies Programme (School of Engineering and Physical Sciences)Link opens in a new window at Heriot-Watt University. She served as External Adviser on the "Open"Link opens in a new window Board of Studies (2020-2024), the cross-Faculty curriculum offering at The Open University and as External Approval Panel Member for the "Ruskin Modules"Link opens in a new window offering (2021-2023), the interdisciplinary provisionLink opens in a new window of Anglia Ruskin University.

Elena additionally contributes as a Times Higher Education CampusLink opens in a new window reader panel member.

Pedagogic Research Interests

Elena's primary focus in pedagogic research revolves around investigating the influence of the learning and teaching experience on the wellbeing of both students and staff in higher education.

Her research has yielded significant insights into methods for fostering student wellbeing throughout their educational journey. Notably, Elena leads this area of pedagogic research at both institutional and broader levels, as evidenced by her extensive track record of securing grants from national and international funding bodies, totaling over £700K in the past five years. Moreover, her work is highlighted through publications in internationally respected peer-reviewed pedagogic journals, keynote presentations at conferences, and regular contributions to Times Higher Education (THE).

Central to her research approach is the innovative use of participatory methods, specifically co-creation, to address issues affecting often overlooked student demographics within the university community. For instance, Elena held the role of Principal Investigator for the University of Warwick in the Office for StudentsLink opens in a new window funded project Positive Digital PracticesLink opens in a new window (2020 - 2023). The project's objective was to integrate and uphold beneficial methods that promote mental wellbeing among part-time, commuter, and distance learning students. Collaborating with Elena were institutions such as the Open University, the University of Bradford, Student Minds, Jisc, and UMHAN.

Appointed by the European Commission for her expertise and research in the field, Elena has compiled a reportLink opens in a new window (2024) that examines approaches to support mental health and provides recommendations to shape the European Union prospective policies aimed at improving mental health and wellbeing across Higher Education Institutions through holistic, whole-institution approaches.

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

- Wilson S., L., Riva E.*, Lister K. Positive Pedagogies: Co-creation partnerships to support social and emotional learning in higher educationLink opens in a new window Social and Emotional Learning: Research, Practice, and Policy, 2024, 3.

- Riva E., Lister, K. Helping students means taking university staff wellbeing seriouslyLink opens in a new window, WONKHE, March 2024.

- Riva, E.,* Lister, K., Jeglinska, W. Student and staff mental well-being in European higher education institutionsLink opens in a new window, 2024, NESET report, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. doi: 10.2766/146281.

- 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., 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