Having reviewed strategies and examples of autonomy-supportive teaching practice in 3.1, you may well ask whether teaching for student wellbeing is just the same as effective or good teaching. In many ways, autonomy-supportive teaching and effective teaching do overlap significantly.
In his influential book, “What the best college teachers do”, Ken Bain identifies six common characteristics that are shared by recognised excellent teachers across various disciplines. These are outlined below.
We found that the best teachers usually have a strong faith in the ability of students to learn and in the power of healthy challenge, but they also have an appreciation that excessive anxiety and tension can hinder thinking.
What do effective teachers do?
How teachers design curriculum and what they do to facilitate learning inside and outside the classroom has a powerful affect on student motivation and the approaches they adopt to learning (see read more). As outlined below, the common practices of effective teachers also supports the mental wellbeing essentials of autonomous Motivation, Belonging, positive Relationships, Autonomy, and Competence.
Develop techniques to help students grasp fundamental principles and organising concepts in the discipline.
- What should students be able to do as a result of my teaching?
- How can I best help and encourage them to develop those abilities?
- How can I help students understand the quality and progress of their learning?
Create a challenging, yet supportive conditions in which learner feel a sense of control over their education and works collaboratively with others.
These six common practices of effective teachers lead to enhanced student engagement in learning and support the mental wellbeing essentials, particularly Motivation, Competence, and Autonomy. 3.5 Good Practice Examples provides examples of strategies used by educators to enhance feelings of Belonging and positive Relationships.
Research snapshot 3.2: Student motivation, learning and wellbeing
For university educators, there is strong incentive to consider the psychological impacts of teaching practice: learning outcomes are also improved when the importance of student mental wellbeing is recognised. Key points from the literature:
- The social dimensions of a learning environment influence the motivation that students experience – autonomous or controlled (Black & Deci, 2000).
- Students who have autonomy-supportive teachers show educational and developmental benefits including: greater engagement, higher quality learning, enhanced intrinsic motivation, enhanced well-being, and higher academic achievement (Su & Reeve, 2011)
- Students’ autonomous motivation has been shown to be enhanced when learning tasks are optimally challenging – that is, when tasks stretch students but are within their range of competence (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Pintrich, 2003b); when learning tasks are designed around students’ interests (Schraw & Lehman, 2001); and when students are able to collaborate on tasks with others (Su & Reeve, 2011).
- Teachers can also support autonomous motivation by taking the perspective of their students, offering opportunities for choice, being receptive to students’ questions and ideas, and making learning relevant to students’ lives and work (Wijnia, Loyens & Derous, 2011).