CREATING AN ENGAGING & INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT (read more: pp 62 - 74 in the JITT Guide)
WHAT IS IT?
Asset-based approaches to student wellbeing are policies, practices, and strategies that identify and draw upon the strengths of individuals, families, and communities. Asset-based (aka strengths-based) practices involve shifting away from deficit approaches that tend to emphasize problems and instead focus on the positive contributions that students make in the classroom.
Wellbeing is a multifaceted construct and can be conceptualized into five dimensions: Career, Community, Financial, Social, and Physical and Psychological (Rath & Harder, 2010)1.
Asset-based approaches benefit students by:
- encouraging them to engage in campus services and support structures;
- empowering them to more effectively participate in class;
- helping them to build positive support networks through relationships with peers and instructors (Green et al., 2004).
- of UCD students report that inconsistent access to housing or homelessness is an obstacle to school work or academic success.
- of UCD students report that they could not afford to eat balanced meals in the past year (UCUES, 2018).
Provide links to Campus Resources on your syllabus and on Canvas, and make sure to highlight these services on the first day of class and during high-stress times of the quarter (e.g., midterms, finals, etc.).
Consider all costs associated with your course. For example, instead of asking students to purchase a course reader, consider providing PDFs of articles or single chapter readings on Canvas.
Look for indicators that a student is experiencing distress. You need not take on the role of a counselor or attempt to diagnose a student, but instead notice the signs of distress and communicate these to the appropriate resource.
Combat stigma by normalizing help-seeking behaviors and respond compassionately to students experiencing mental health crises.
Encourage students to explore possible avenues for physical activity, especially during stressful times in the quarter, by reminding them that their student fees grant them access to the UC Davis ARC.
- “I once had a class where our instructor had us meditate and practice mindfulness in class…like when we visualized being successful on exams.”
- “Some of my professors are really good about encouraging students to talk to them in office hours or through email if we are struggling with food and/or housing insecurity. This makes me less afraid to approach them about my challenges.”
- The whole catalog of open-access resources can be found here: Healthy UC Davis: Open Access Resources. How might you connect students to this website at the beginning of and throughout your course?
- How can you build flexibility into your attendance and late-work policies in order to work with students (e.g., to establish plans for getting back on track if they fall behind)?
- 1. List of all references in the complete JITT Guide.