ISQOLS Member Research Webinar
"Which factors support student wellbeing at university?"
Monday, November 11, 2019; 07:30am Pacific Standard Time/16:30 South Africa Standard Time
Prof Irma Eloff
Editor of the Handbook of Quality of Life in African Societies (Springer) and professor of Educational Psychology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Prof Tharina Guse,
Head of the Department of Psychology, University of Pretoria, South Africa and Founder and President of the South African Positive Psychology Association
Background: This exploratory, qualitative study is investigating the factors that support student wellbeing at a large, urban university in South Africa. The aim of the study is to gain deeper understandings of the complexities of student wellbeing in the post-colonial era of tertiary institutions.
Methods: Data was collected in two phases. In Phase one, undergraduate students (n=2480) were interviewed to assess the factors that support their wellbeing during the first semester of the academic year. In Phase two, supplementary data were collected from 10 focus groups with undergraduate students in all faculties of the university during the second semester of the academic year, in order to further explore the factors that support their wellbeing. Data was captured by means of audio-recordings and transcribed. Data analysis was conducted by means of theme analysis.
Findings: Findings from the study indicate that student wellbeing is supported by a wide variety of institutional factors. However, two dominant themes emerged from the study: 1. The quality of the learning environment and, 2. The support of academic and non-academic staff members at the university.
Discussion: The findings from this study emphasize the importance of investments in high quality learning environments at universities. It also indicates the fact that university staff members play an integral role in student wellbeing, which extends well beyond the academic task.
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