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Hopeless to hopeful: Instructional strategies to support science students’ mental health


An increasing number of post-secondary students are experiencing emotions such as anxiety in response to academic and non-academic stressors. This seminar will discuss anxiety and other emotions in learning and the research on student learning and mental wellbeing. The role of psychological stress in learning and cognition is an active area of investigation in neuroscience, psychology, medicine, and education. Stress influences attention, decision speed, memory formation, and recall. It is well established that worrying thoughts and feelings that present as test anxiety reduce students’ cognitive capacity required to show what they know on tests.

Dr. Stewart’s research with organic chemistry learners indicates student anxiety correlates strongly with increased feelings of shame and hopelessness, and weakly with decreased grades, strategic learning behaviours, perceptions of homework value and persistence. Encouragingly, supportive teaching practices can promote students’ emotional health and quality of life.

Her talk will discuss strategies to foster social connection, learning motivation, and perceptions of learning in large and small science classes. Designing courses with emotions in mind allows for students to remain hopeful in the face of challenges and persist in working toward their learning goals.

DATE AND TIME: Tuesday October 19, 2021 at 2pm



Dr. Jaclyn (Jackie) Stewart is an Associate Professor of Teaching in the Department of Chemistry and the Deputy Academic Director of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She has a BSc degree in honours chemistry, a MSc in wood science, and a PhD in educational psychology. She is passionate about helping students learn to use research-tested study strategies and supporting faculty to adopt evidence-based instructional methods. Her current research interests include investigating how emotions influence learning from feedback, learning assessment, and equitable and inclusive teaching. She is a member of the inaugural UBC Equity and Inclusion Scholars Program.


Oct 19 2021


2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


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