• From transcendence to general maintenance: Exploring the creativity and wellbeing dynamic in higher education

      Hughes, Gareth; Wilson, Chris; University of Derby (Knowledge, Innovation & Enterprise, 2017-10)
      The issue of wellbeing in higher education has been an increasing area of discourse and action in recent years, driven considerably by in-creasing rates of recorded mental illness and apparent reductions in student resilience. With increasing recognition of the wellbeing challenge faced by the whole academic community, it is now incumbent on universities to move beyond deficit model support frameworks, to balance the necessary and essential challenge of study in higher education with the need for therapeutic effective interventions capable of engaging students and staff. There is a growing body of evidence relating to the health benefits of participation with creative activity, and engagement with creative experiences. This chapter presents a focused review of the creativity-wellbeing-learning dynamic to explore the possible opportunities for a move beyond the mere provision of supplementary student support. Given the increasing significance attached to creativity as a graduate attribute, the answer to the wellbeing challenge may be to question the notion of academic and therapeutic as being mutually ex-clusive ideals. Shouldn’t effective academic challenge improve wellbeing? Might the challenge actually provide the solution?
    • An investigation of the views, understanding, knowledge, experience and attitudes of sixth form teachers in regard to the preparedness of their students for the transition to university

      Hughes, Gareth; Massey, Frances; Williams, Sarah; University of Derby (Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), 2016-12)
      Research has identified that many students feel significantly unprepared for university life and study While much work has been done to identify ways in which universities can successfully support their students through transition, little attention has been paid, in the literature, to the preparation students receive in school. This report details a mixed methods study to better understand the role of 6th form teachers in preparing students for university and their perceptions of how prepared their students are for Higher Education A number of recurring themes emerged from the resultant transcripts and where supported by quantitative findings. The teachers in the study clearly believed that they had an important role to play in preparing their students for university. Much of this role is currently focussed on career planning, promoting university, helping students make choices and supporting them through the application process. While some work is taking place to help students develop personally and academically, most teachers indicated that they would like to be able to do more in this area. There were broad agreements and concerns about the personal growth and emotional resilience of students. Focus group participants, whose students are, in the main, from non-traditional university going backgrounds also indicated cultural barriers. Teachers in both phases of the research also indicated concerns that many of their students were unable to visualise the future or prioritise beyond immediate concerns and this was undermining planning and preparation. Academic concerns were not shared by all schools, although some indicated that they believed many of their students would struggle to integrate academically into higher education. Teachers in the qualitative phase also identified time, resources, culture and current student attitudes and behaviours as barriers to their ability to do more to prepare their students.
    • Student mental health: The role and experiences of academics.

      Hughes, Gareth; Panjawni, Mehr; Tulcidas, Priya; Byrom, Nicola; University of Derby; Student Minds; Kings College London (Student Minds, 2018-01-29)
      To understand more about how academics are managing student mental health, this project interviewed 52 academics at five universities. Participants reported large numbers of students experiencing mental health difficulties. A number of the academics interviewed described experiences of student mental illness that carried high levels of risk and distress. Academics who had worked in the role for many years stressed that they were seeing an increase in the prevalence of mental health difficulties. This report sets out 11 key findings and recommendations to ensure that students and academics are effectively and safely supported.