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Student Wellbeing and Experiential Learning Report

Elsden, Esme; Sercombe, Hannah; Piper, Kim; Webster, Emma; Smyth-Zahra, Flora; Barkan, Melissa; Kador, Thomas; (2022) Student Wellbeing and Experiential Learning Report. University College London (UCL): London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

Objectives: To assess whether experiential learning informs student wellbeing. Background: The wellbeing of students in higher education has been decreasing, exacerbated further since the global coronavirus pandemic. Universities are places where students’ wellbeing could be better supported and research into how to do this is important to improve outcomes. Design: Mixed-methods explanatory sequential design where the quantitative study informed the subsequent qualitative study. Setting: An online survey delivered across University College London (UCL), King’s College London (KCL), University of Oxford (Oxford), as well as online 1-hour zoom interviews with students across the three universities. Participants: From the survey findings there were N=140 university students from undergraduate to postgraduates (UCL=37, KCL=71, Oxford=30, with other universities contributing 2). The qualitative arm recruited N=14 (UCL = 10, KCL=3, Oxford=1) Primary and Secondary outcome measures: Primary outcome measure was the ONS wellbeing questionnaire. Secondary outcome measure was the Harvard Flourishing Scale. Results: Across the three universities, students surveyed had worse life satisfaction (3.10% versus 9.84%) and higher anxiety (23.60% versus 59.84%) compared to the national average of young people aged 16-25 years old. Quantitative results showed that descriptively UCL (Life Satisfaction mean = 6.27(SD=2.58); Anxiety mean = 5.24(SD=2.74); Happiness mean = 5.95 (SD=2.89); Worthwhileness mean = 6.19 (SD=2.90)) had the worst reported wellbeing amongst the three, with Oxford having the highest (Life Satisfaction mean = 7.03 (SD=1.54); Anxiety mean = 4.24(SD 2.82); Happiness mean = 6.67 (SD=1.88); Worthwhileness mean = 7.07 (SD=2.02)). Independent t-tests were run on the sample of 140 students to determine if there were differences in ONS Wellbeing scores between our survey population and the national average. The results showed that survey participants had statistically significantly lower life satisfaction (t(138)=-5.08, p=0.000), happiness (t(138)=-5.80, p=0.000), feelings that life was worthwhile (t(138)=-4.85, p=0.000) and worse anxiety (t(138)=8.20, p=0.000) compared to the national average. Qualitative results then confirmed that students felt their wellbeing was impacted currently, from being at university. The qualitative findings explored the role experiential learning plays in adapting curricula to shape wellbeing as well as how cultural spaces and experiential learning might interact to support that. Accordingly, diversifying module content can positively influence student wellbeing with the physical learning environment also playing an important part. In particular, ‘interesting’ physical learning spaces have the potential to enhance student wellbeing compared to digital learning environments. Conclusions: Student wellbeing is impacted by how the curriculum is shaped. Curricula that embed wellbeing into their assessment, seminars, and weekly approach, as well as those that carefully consider the learning environment, might help to bolster student wellbeing.

Type: Report
Title: Student Wellbeing and Experiential Learning Report
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://culturehealthresearch.wordpress.com/studen...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
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 > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Arts and Sciences (BASc)
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10183835
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