Supporting student wellbeing during COVID-19: Tips from regional and remote Australia
Type of Publication: NCSEHE Fellowship report
Lead Organisation: University of Tasmania
Year Published: 2020
Lead Researcher: Nicole Crawford
“All classes will shift to online, effective this Monday.” In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching staff at universities across the world are being told they must shift courses from face-to-face to online delivery — not next year, not next semester, but next week. Some colleagues have been teaching online for many years, but for many of us it is a daunting change.
In this time of physical distancing, the preliminary findings of my NCSEHE Equity Fellowship research on supporting the mental wellbeing of mature-aged students in regional and remote Australia may be helpful. Why? The majority (53 per cent) of the students surveyed (n=2,401) and interviewed (n=51) study fully online.
Their experience is quickly becoming the “new normal”; with almost all tertiary study suddenly online, no longer is it a tyranny of distance for the few, on the periphery and out of sight.
The survey and interview findings highlight the importance of teaching practices and the learning environment on student wellbeing. What can we learn from these regional and remote students to support students’ mental health, wellbeing and success, in the context of learning and teaching online?
I’d like to acknowledge and thank members of my Fellowship Advisory Group, Dr Benjamin Veness, Associate Professor Lydia Woodyatt (Flinders University) and Mr Matt Brett (Deakin University), for their invaluable feedback on this piece.