Undergraduate Academic Affairs

October 29, 2020

New guidebook helps faculty and instructors support student well-being

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Cover of Well-Being for Life and Learning guidebookThis week, the University of Washington’s Resilience Lab released the Well-Being for Life and Learning Guidebook, a new resource for instructors to aid them in designing learning environments that promote well-being. Combining research, best practices and personal testimony, the guidebook gives faculty and other instructors concrete ideas and direct input from the campus community around supporting the whole student and promoting resilience and compassion on campus.

Students’ well-being has been a growing concern for several years and has been exacerbated by 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, economic fallout and the national reckoning over race and policing. A recent survey by the American Council on Education found that campus mental health was the top concern of university presidents. 

“As we prepare the next generation of citizens and servant leaders, future educators, researchers, entrepreneurs and more, it really is critical that we incorporate practices that support our students’ whole lives and lived experiences,” says Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean on Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “As a public research university, much of our work is focused on understanding the factors that contribute to resilient communities. This guidebook helps us with that work right here at our UW home, knowing that it expands beyond campus as we all interact with our broader community through research, service and teaching.”

The guidebook’s Foundations for Advancing Student Well-Being are the framework for the guide and include the themes of teaching for equity and access, building resilience coping skills, nurturing connection and connecting to the environment. This framework promotes core skills and mindsets of social and emotional learning and draws on best practices modeled at other institutions. This resource was researched, developed, co-written and edited by the Resilience Lab team and more than 40 Well-Being for Life and Learning Fellows who are faculty members, instructors, staff and students across disciplines and from all three UW campuses. Their contributions give the guidebook a UW-focused, holistic perspective on the impact of teaching the whole student. In that way, the guidebook is both a call to action and an invitation to the work of helping students develop the tools and habits for well-being so they are mentally and emotionally equipped to learn and thrive. 

“All of us at the Resilience Lab are so honored to have worked on this guidebook with such a committed group of instructors, staff and students,” says Resilience Lab Director Megan Kennedy. “We know that advancing student well-being really takes all of us, so our goal was to create a tool for our campus colleagues to add to their pedagogical toolbox. We wanted to give instructors a foundation of both why this work matters and how they can incorporate it into their teaching no matter where they are in terms of personal and professional experience.” 

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The Resilience Lab promotes well-being at the University of Washington through education, research partnerships, and core programs and initiatives.

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The Well-Being for Life and Learning guidebook sits at the prevention and promotion end of a mental health continuum of care within the UW and is aimed at preventing larger issues or crises by bolstering students’ resilience coping skills and helping them respond to stress and stay connected to others. It’s a part of the Resilience Lab’s Well-Being for Life and Learning initiative, one of the Lab’s efforts toward building and sustaining a culture of well-being at the UW.

About the Resilience Lab

The Resilience Lab was founded in 2015 and is a program within Undergraduate Academic Affairs that promotes well-being at the UW through education, research partnerships and core programs and initiatives.

For more information about the Resilience Lab or its Well-Being for Life and Learning initiative and guidebook, contact Megan Kennedy at meganken@uw.edu.