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Understanding the learning experiences of first year Science students is an important step towards creating classroom settings that support them.

That’s why faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and staff members in the Faculty of Science came together for the inaugural First-Year Experience Science Education Symposium at UBC, a day-long workshop focused on developing high quality teaching practices and learning environments and better understanding how to create positive learning environments.

“The Faculty of Science has shown incredible leadership in learning more about their first-year students, resources available to them on campus to help them thrive, and how to build student resiliency and wellbeing,” says Patty Hambler, Director of Health Education & Promotion. 

The Symposium, championed by Karen Smith (Lecturer, Microbiology and Immunology), also gave attendees the opportunity to share best practices in first year instruction, network with colleagues from a variety of departments within the Faculty of Science and to collaborate on developing strategies to help students succeed in the classroom.



Science student Gurshabad Singhera talks about his experiences as a first year student. 

The Faculty of Science has committed to exploring opportunities to support and enhance student wellbeing. With support from the Student Wellbeing Promotion team, they have identified key priority areas to focus on and are working towards embedding wellbeing into their departmental culture, policies and practices, including teaching methods. 

“The Faculty of Science has really recognized the important role that instructors play in not only promoting student learning, but their health and wellbeing as well. Faculty members have been incredibly proactive about working to build capacity to support student wellbeing,” says Sarah Joose, Wellbeing Promotion Strategist who works closely with the Faculty of Science to identify opportunities to promote wellbeing in learning environments. 

In addition to working with the Student Wellbeing Promotion Team,  the Faculty of Science has also been participating in an ongoing study, supported through the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, to explore how teaching practices influence student mental health and wellbeing. The study, a joint effort with the Faculty of Arts is a multi-year project, that sought to identify specific teaching practices that are effective at both promoting learning and supporting student wellbeing. After initial data collection and analysis were completed, three clear themes for teaching practices that supporting student wellbeing in learning environments were apparent:

  • Student wellbeing is enhanced when students are holistically supported.
  • Student wellbeing and learning are supported when students feel a sense of connection and social belonging.
  • Student wellbeing is supported when their learning (and motivation to learn) is supported.        

In the upcoming year, the Student Wellbeing Promotion team will continue to work with the Faculty of Science to create resources for instructors to assist them in integrating these wellbeing-promoting practices into their teaching.

“It is wonderful to see just how passionate our faculty and staff are about setting students up for success,” says Hambler. “Hopefully we will continue to see more opportunities for collaboration and engagement like this across the university!”


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We all have a hand in shaping campus environments that support health, wellbeing, and sustainability. By championing wellbeing, we can build stronger and more inclusive communities at UBC and beyond.