UBC Graduate Research

Faculty wellbeing on UBC campus : design guidelines and future research directions Desjarlais, Lecia; Cummings, Cassandra; Myers, Michael; Wang, Sophie


In this report, we examine three major factors in understanding faculty wellbeing on UBC campus: workplace mental health, learning pedagogies, and built environment factors. There are significant gaps in the research literature regarding faculty wellbeing. Our recommendations include potential avenues for further study, items to include in future faculty surveys, and a new methodological approach to study learning spaces and their effect on wellbeing. Workplace Mental Health Mental health issues in a workplace setting are common and should be addressed as it has severe costs in well-being to the individual and financially to the organization. Workplace wellness programs have evolved significantly throughout the last 6 decades with over 90% of organizations offering a comprehensive benefits and wellbeing services offered to their employees. Universities have become increasingly aware of the importance of positive mental health and are starting to look into designing programs and an environment that is supportive of student, staff and faculty’s wellbeing. In this report, we present guiding principles to guide program and intervention planning in order to achieve holistic workplace health for employees. We also identify key factors that affect faculty’s job satisfaction and present existing services for faculty members at both UBC and other universities across campus. Learning Pedagogies Although research doesn’t definitively defend this perspective, we propose that - when looking at learning pedagogies at the University of British Columbia - faculty wellbeing comes into play through teaching faculty how they can – and when it is appropriate to – apply different teaching strategies, in different settings and contexts, using different tools. One way to delineate between different teaching strategies is to look at models that are either teacher-centered or student-centered. There are advantages to both strategies. However, student-centered models better accommodate varying student learning styles, build student-teacher relationships, promote student-student communication, and improve student and teacher motivation, among other advantages. Much of the literature refers to a three or four-pronged approach to changing systems of pedagogical stagnation (self-perpetuating teacher-centered strategies). If a shift in pedagogies is to occur, the literature suggests that (1) faculty have access to changing technology; (2) they have support, training, and education from the university focusing on pedagogical knowledge; and (3) beliefs and attitudes towards instructional practice must change (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). The largest obstacle to enhancing wellbeing of faculty is the lack of research and awareness about how the university campus environment affects faculty. There is a need to expand theory and research on university faculty satisfaction, performance, and wellbeing. There are basic questions that have remained unanswered about how spaces affect learning and better theoretical frameworks are needed to examine these questions (Boys, 2011). This is particularly true when there is an increasing number of different teaching pedagogies and new technology integrating into the teaching environment in recent years. Occupational wellbeing and satisfaction surveys such as UBC’s Workplace Experiences Survey conducted in 2011 are first steps in a much larger information gathering process necessary for faculty. Faculty working environments differ in important ways from staff. Existing research about standard workplaces may not be sufficient for understanding the unique conditions faculty work under. With that in mind, we limited our focus to three design interventions and one programming concept. They include concepts such as introducing outdoor classrooms, increasing the number of tertiary spaces outdoors, service considerations and issues surrounding booking teaching spaces, and design issues surrounding faculty offices. Each of these concepts offers ideas for further investigation. Each of these topics requires further investigation or should be considered for inclusion on future faculty surveys. Major Recommendations • Assess avenues for future research including: the balance and potential conflict between engagement with students and needing time and space for independent study and research; unique faculty personality traits; and the impact of renovation and construction on students, staff, faculty and residents. • Evaluate preferences of faculty in future surveys for themes related to wellness, teaching pedagogies, and design ideas • Utilize ethnographic methods to document experiences of learning spaces and their effectiveness. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada