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Experiential learning spaces and student wellbeing: a mixed-methods study of students at three research intensive UK universities

Elsden, Esme; Kador, Thomas; Sercombe, Hannah; Piper, Kim; Barkan, Melissa; Webster, Emma; Smyth Zahra, Flora; (2023) Experiential learning spaces and student wellbeing: a mixed-methods study of students at three research intensive UK universities. International Review of Psychiatry 10.1080/09540261.2023.2268720. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

There is clear evidence that university students are experiencing significant mental health difficulties, further exacerbated by the temporary closure of university campuses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Against this backdrop, our study – Student Wellbeing and Experiential Learning Spaces (SWELS) – explored the role of experiential learning spaces in supporting student wellbeing. We adopted a mixed-methods approach, consisting of an online survey and interviews with students from three research intensive UK Universities. The survey results revealed that compared to the national average of 16–25-year-olds from the UK Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) wellbeing questionnaire, the sampled students exhibited significantly lower levels of life satisfaction, happiness, perceived worthwhileness and higher levels of anxiety. The qualitative results further confirmed that students perceived their wellbeing to be affected by their university experience and the COVID pandemic. However, the results also suggest that experiential learning spaces (such as museums, collections, libraries, and gardens) hold strong potential to support student mental health. Accordingly, the study indicates that diversifying module content and conscientiously considering both physical and digital learning spaces can positively impact students. In short, curricula that are cognisant of the physical learning environment and embed a focus on wellbeing into their content might help to bolster student wellbeing.

Type: Article
Title: Experiential learning spaces and student wellbeing: a mixed-methods study of students at three research intensive UK universities
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/09540261.2023.2268720
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/09540261.2023.2268720
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Arts and Sciences (BASc)
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10179744
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