Resilience Training in Higher Education

Introducing resilience education into the curriculum of an undergraduate degree course at a higher education institution in the UK is a challenge for a scientist with expertise in geochemistry, and it can be a lonely obstacle course.

Knowing ‘in my guts’ that it was the ‘right thing to do’ for my students was one thing, finding (a select few) colleagues who backed the initiative and supported the delivery was reassuring, but finding out what the programme could do for individuals was just great!

So, I am grateful to Dr Lynda Rodwell for, in autumn 2018, taking the plunge with me to deliver the Path to Success Programme workshops and tutorials, providing feedback and sharing experiences. Our head of school at the time, Prof Mark Anderson, was brave to allow us to run the pilot for a year.

Anne Bentley and John Hilsdon from Student Services at the University of Plymouth were enthusiastic supporters of the programme, giving feedback on our plans for student sessions and providing supervision and debriefing afterwards.

Student feedback from a questionnaire and informal interactions showed us how supportive our approach was: for example for making the transition from home to university life, understanding ones stress triggers and responses, calming nerves ahead of assessments and managing thoughts about future events.

Of course, living by example makes teaching, mentoring and coaching an authentic experience for both sides. Engagement with the Path to Success Programme during editing, expansion, design of online and hardcopy versions, podcasts, workshop planning and face to face delivery left its mark on me personally: I’ve learned, reflected and changed through growing knowledge and understanding and applying the tools of our resilience education programme in my own life.

And I am still learning and developing, maintaining a keen interest in prioritising mental and physical wellbeing.

None of this would have happened at this time without the originator of the Path to Succeed Programme, Paul Hart, providing his experience and expertise.

Having already spread to Primary Education, Information Technology and Geosciences, it will continue to expand to Chemistry and Geography this coming year…and I am proud to see that happening after my departure from the university – a recognition of its value.

What next for me and resilience education?

It’s always there, running in the background… at my best, it filters through in my interaction with others.

Quietly, I embed it in my design of science education activities.

Perhaps, one day, I’ll have the time to transfer it into a format accessible to a wider audience again.

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