Resilience in the curriculum: outcomes of a curriculum infusion intervention with neuroscience students

Toledo-Rodriguez, Maria and Lister, Kate (2022). Resilience in the curriculum: outcomes of a curriculum infusion intervention with neuroscience students. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 24(1) pp. 139–164.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5456/WPLL.24.1.139

Abstract

Student mental health is of critical concern in higher education, with increasing numbers of students needing support. It is crucial for higher education providers to develop preventive strategies that will ensure students' mental health and academic success not only are maintained, but improved, through university and beyond. This paper reports on a UK study that aimed to embed mental wellbeing and resilience skills within the neuroscience curriculum using a 'curriculum infusion' approach. A programme was designed that included a series of 'neurobiology of resilience' workshops and reflective activities within compulsory modules. Students were surveyed at the end of the semester using the Resilience Scale for Young Adults, as well as questions on lifestyle and growth mindset. Additionally, thematic analysis was carried out on extenuating circumstances (EC) claims placed to identify changes in the number of mental health-related concerns. It is perceived that this approach might be of particular benefit for 'non - traditional' or 'widening participation' students, and students from minorities or disadvantaged groups, as part of strengthening their internal locus of control. The study compared results from a cohort receiving the intervention (N=42) with results from a previous cohort who did not (N=28). It found that students receiving the workshops showed significantly higher mental resilience in terms of optimism, adaptability and a decrease in emotional reactivity. This was accompanied by a lower proportion of mental health-related ECs submitted.

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