OLT Project: Curriculum Resources
Four broad approaches to curriculum resources to support student success and well-being:
- General Module: A whole module that focusses on the theory, research and practice of student success and well-being, which may be open to being taken by any university student.
- Discipline/profession-specific module: A module that focusses on success and well-being in a particular profession (e.g. Justine Rogers’s Law Course).
- Integratable Strategies: Well-being resources that can be integrated into any module, as additional non-assessable resources, or as the subject of learning, teaching, and assessment activities (e.g. a time-management activity, or a values activity).
- Breadcrumbs: Strategies that take very little effort on the part of the academic/faculty member, but nevertheless may be very helpful to students.
General Module Approaches
Science of Student Success
The OLT project took the first approach, in developing a course/module prototype from scratch. Two very similar versions of the same course were created, and we present here the essential resources for the second version, “The Science of Student Success”, which (a) did not assume any previous psychology study, and (b) had less assessment requirements (in particular, did not include a self-development assignment). Essentially this approach can constitute an elective or core unit in an undergraduate psychology major program, or could be taken as an elective or general education module by any university student.
This module was delivered in flipped-classroom format, whereby students were expected to undertake pre-practical activities (listed on the learning management system, Moodle) prior to each weekly classroom (termed “practical”) 2-hour session.
Presented below is the module/course outline, and the slides for each of the nine weeks of substantive work. Please contact the module coordinators for further information on how this module was run.
Course and Module Outlines
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Stress
Week 3: Psychological Science
Week 4: Positive Psychology and Realistic Optimism
Week 5: Self-knowledge
Week 6: Academic Competencies
Week 7: Connectedness
Week 8: Managing thoughts and feelings (CBT)
Week 9: Student group meetings
Week 10: Psychological flexibility and psychological literacy (and ACT)
Week 11: Student group meetings
Week 12: Group presentations
Integratable Strategy Approaches
The third approach could, for example, take some of the material from the OLT Module (Week 6), which focuses on study strategies and time-management (see also relevant resources under SPECIFIC HELP: Learning, and under MINI-PROJECTS), and embed it into ANY course, preferably with an assessable exercise whereby students need to apply the strategies to themselves, discuss the strategies and/or progress in class, and write at least an assessable reflection (if not a report) on the exercise. A “lighter” approach would be to assess the content of this material in examinations; at least then students have the semantic knowledge regarding effective strategies, if not the more powerful experience of application.
Breadcrumbs (i.e. 'Sowing the Seed' or 'Baby Steps')
This fourth approach constitutes small but effective ways for educators to painlessly provide opportunities for students to improve their chances of succeeding, whether this is through pointing to resources, encouraging students to try out simple but effective strategies, or by normalising help-seeking. As you (the educator) are an example of someone who has successfully completed academic studies, students will take notice of you—particularly if you can personalise the examples.
Mindfulness with Reading to Study
Professor Prue Vines, in her first-year law class, first has a meditation teacher, Dr. Patricia Morgan, give the students an introduction to mindfulness meditation. Then, every few seminars thereafter, Patricia will give students a brief mindfulness practice reminder, or Prue will give the students a reminder about the usefulness of mindfulness meditation. For example, she suggests to them that when they are reading a required article, they have a piece of paper beside them, and note each time their mind wanders from the reading, thus highlighting the usefulness of mindfulness practice.
Normalising Smart Help-seeking
- As each assessment is set up (and at least 2weeks prior to due date), mention in lectures or on the learning management system, how useful any academic student support service or website is, in terms of supporting required academic literacy (e.g., online essay writing skill advice).
- As the mid-semester assessment period approaches, remind students in lectures or on the learning management system, of time-management resources (e.g., on www.thedesk.com), and also of the counselling services, if stressors are starting to become extremely distressing—ie getting help to manage those stressors preferably before they become overwhelming, but certainly when they become overwhelming.
- If there is any peer-assisted learning program, indicate to students several times, how you think it is a smart thing to do to participate.
UNSW CAPS, in collaboration with Medical Science and Optometry, has developed a brief Test Anxiety Module that provides helpful opportunities and information to students suffering from test anxiety. A simple strategy that educators can take is to list this resource on their learning management system, and then at least a couple of weeks prior to significant tests, mention its existence, indicating that it would be smart to have a look at it.