Inclusion or isolation? Differential student experiences of independent learning and wellbeing in higher education

Wilbraham, Susan ORCID logo ORCID: , Jones, Emma, Brewster, Liz ORCID logo ORCID: , Priestley, Michael, Broglia, Emma ORCID logo ORCID: , Hughes, Gareth ORCID logo ORCID: and Spanner, Leigh (2024) Inclusion or isolation? Differential student experiences of independent learning and wellbeing in higher education. Education Sciences, 14 (3). p. 285.

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Independent learning is frequently identified as instrumental to student success within higher education. Although there is a significant body of literature demonstrating the importance of independent learning for retention and progression, to date, the relationship between independent learning and student wellbeing within higher education has been under-explored. This article addresses the gap in the literature by interrogating this relationship, with a particular emphasis on the barriers and enablers to independent learning and the implications for the wellbeing of university students as part of a whole university approach. Drawing on data from a large national student survey and nine focus groups with university staff conducted during the formulation of the University Mental Health Charter, the findings demonstrate important intersectionalities between independent learning and student wellbeing. In particular, they highlight that facilitating independent learning has the potential to allow students to flourish in higher education but only when factors relating to accessibility, inclusivity, expectations, and goals are explicitly addressed. Going forward, it is imperative that these links are more widely acknowledged and addressed within higher education research, policy, and practice to ensure that students are supported to develop as learners during both their transition into university and their journey through and beyond their studies.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Education Sciences
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2227-7102
Departments: Institute of Health > Psychology and Psychological Therapies
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Depositing User: Susan Wilbraham
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2024 20:09
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2024 20:15


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