What We’re Learning About Learning Podcast: Supporting Student Wellbeing and Learning

Students everywhere have experienced the brunt of the pandemic not only through learning loss but also through extended, well-documented mental health issues. Results from a survey done by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health in 2021 show that students struggle to cope with coursework and the pressure to excel in school, especially as their priorities have shifted to maintaining personal relationships and mental health. In CNDLS’ latest podcast episode of What We Are Learning about Learning, hear how faculty members at Georgetown have fostered trust and belonging and motivated students by opening up to those students and creating a shared space of vulnerability and whole-person learning in the classroom.

According to the Americal Psychological Association, mental health needs are rising on college campuses. A recent national survey of nearly 33,000 college students across the country revealed that, during the pandemic, half of the respondents were experiencing depression or anxiety and 83% of respondents reported that their mental health had negatively impacted their academic performance. 

Georgetown is no exception to these trends. A 2020 survey by the Georgetown Student Association found that “nearly 100 percent of students feel the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health and more that [sic] 60 percent indicated that the coronavirus ‘negatively impacted their access to Georgetown mental health services.’” Georgetown has responded to the mental health crisis by expanding campus and telehealth services for students and faculty

Georgetown leadership knows how important student well-being is to the success of all students. President De Gioia has noted that “the core of what we are takes place in the interaction between our students and our faculty. And when you create an environment where it is normal, it’s appropriate, it’s encouraged, it’s valued to talk about the kinds of challenges that every one of us faces, I think this provides a much healthier environment for our entire community.”

Our new Director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services at Georgetown, Durriya Meer, asserts that fostering well-being begins with “something as simple as acknowledging that we are all struggling in our own ways. […] I don’t need to know the details, but I welcome you to come and talk to me and tell me why you’re struggling, and how we can work to help you accomplish your goals and accomplish my goals.”

In the podcast you’ll hear from many faculty who detail how their own teaching practice has evolved. For example, Huaping, Associate Professor in Philosophy, states that “I just started loving teaching because I brought my whole self into the classroom. And teaching became a liberating practice, and also a process of learning, both learning about my students, about who they are as whole human beings, and also about myself.”

For more, check out our latest podcast episode, “Supporting Student Well-Being and Learning,” where faculty share practical teaching techniques that may help mitigate threats to student well-being and improve learning.