UBC Undergraduate Research

Engaging Allard Law Students in Virtual Wellbeing Programming Little, Meghan; Lateef-Vaksvik, Aliya; Yu, Bohan; Kunkonlakarn, Ploykarn


This research report, produced in partnership with the Allard Law Wellbeing office and the SEEDS Sustainability program at the University of British Columbia, seeks to develop tangible ways to increase law students’ wellbeing through participation in Allard Wellbeing programming. It is well-documented that law students suffer from higher rates of depression and anxiety after their first year in law school and that they experience higher rates of poor wellbeing than the general population (Larcombe et al., 2013; O’Brien et al., 2011; Skead et al., 2020). It is therefore surprising that there has been little research to date on how to increase levels of participation in university-administered wellbeing programs. Additionally, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many post-secondary institutions to transition legal education and other programming to online platforms. Since the onset of the pandemic, Allard Wellbeing’s online programming has faced low-turnout and engagement from law students. The pandemic presents a unique challenge for law school administrators in promoting wellbeing in law students. How can Allard Law School address barriers to participation and encourage students to participate in wellbeing programming virtually? To investigate this research question, we administered a survey that (a) identified barriers to participation and (b) examined potential incentives that may encourage increased participation. The survey was sent out through the Allard Wellbeing email to collect data from law students across all year levels and programs. Survey questions were a mix of closed and open format questions. Based on the review of relevant literature, we developed a codebook to analyze perceived incentives and barriers to participation in responses to the open-format question. Overall, the analysis found three important findings. First, there was a strong desire for programming involving feelings of social connectedness. Second, fatigue from online events was a large barrier preventing students from participating. Third, Allard Wellbeing’s website may be too focused on one-on-one counselling rather than other programming and this lack of emphasis on other programs may prevent students’ participation in them. This study is a preliminary response to the unique challenges of operating university programs during a global pandemic. Ultimately, it finds that a multi-component strategy to wellbeing programming may be most effective in increasing student engagement (Robroek et al., 2009). This strategy includes offering a variety of programming to meet the variety of different needs and preferences of potential participants. Based on these findings, we developed the following SMART recommendations (1) Increase the offerings of wellbeing programming that specifically emphasize social connectedness with peers, professors, or professionals, (2) Increase off-line wellbeing resources for students to use on their own time, and (3) Develop a tool for students to navigate the website based on their personal needs or preferences. Building off of these findings and recommendations, this report suggests areas for future research including extending the research question to other methods and investigating certain key findings in more depth. 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.”

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