A new pop-up course that UConn launched in fall 2023 to help students develop skills for emotional well-being has proven so popular that it is being offered again for the spring semester.
The one-credit course, Feeling Well: The Science and Practice of Emotional Well-Being, complements UConn’s commitment to helping ensure its students develop skills for personal growth, resiliency, life satisfaction, and other attributes along with their academic achievements.
Like other pop-up courses that UConn has held in the past few years, the multidisciplinary “Feeling Well” course modules are taught by faculty and staff from across UConn’s many colleges, schools, and departments.
The fall semester course was successful by several measures: It had one of the highest rates of completion among UConn’s pop-courses and very positive ratings in surveys, with more than four-fifths of students categorizing it as good or excellent.
The course is free for UConn students enrolled in at least 12 credits on the semester’s 10th day, and is currently taking registrations for the spring 2024 semester.
It will run for the semester’s first seven weeks and is asynchronous, meaning that students can access the lessons online at their convenience rather than being locked into a specific date and time.
The course has its roots in a grant that a multidisciplinary team of UConn researchers received from the National Institutes of Health to identify and address gaps on the topic of emotional well-being, an emerging public health concern.
Its lead faculty, coordinators, and contributing faculty come from throughout UConn’s campuses and disciplines, and the 935 students who enrolled in fall semester had a sweeping range of majors, minors, and specialty interest areas. However, they shared a common interest in how emotional well-being affects physical and mental health, and how to develop the tools to pursue that emotional well-being at all stages of life.
“Emotional well-being touches every aspect of our lives,” says Sandra Chafouleas, one of the course’s coordinators and a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of educational psychology in the Neag School of Education.
“We need an interdisciplinary approach to identify what can work to promote it for different people across diverse contexts – there is not a single intervention pathway. That’s what has been so exciting about bringing the broad expertise of so many UConn colleagues to the development of this pop-up,” adds Chafouleas, who is also a co-director of the UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH).
Chafouleas coordinates the course with Beth Russell, the other CSCH co-director and an associate professor of human development and family sciences; and Karen McComb, director of health promotion and community impact at UConn Student Health and Wellness.
In total, 14 faculty and staff from across the University contribute to the course’s modules with a variety of perspectives related to emotional well-being.
“This course is an excellent example of ways in which UConn leverages its expertise and uses interdisciplinary collaborations across our campuses to address issues of high priority to our students and community,” says Amy Gorin, UConn’s vice provost for health sciences and interdisciplinary initiatives.
The class modules cross a variety of interrelated topics: defining emotional well-being and its contributors and consequences across the lifespan; its connections to the brain; positive affect; meaning and purpose; life satisfaction; goal pursuit that includes self and extending beyond the self; and a final discussion to integrate the concepts and wrap up the course.
More than 600 students shared feedback through a survey after the course finished in fall semester, with 46% describing it as “excellent” and another 39% calling it “good.”
Several students mentioned in their comments that the information resonated with them, and that the skills they learned will help them better understand how to foster their own well-being and improve their emotional and mental state.
The University hopes to eventually expand the course’s audience beyond UConn students to also be available to faculty, staff, and others, Russell says: “This topic has a timeliness to it that is felt in every corner of our community. We hope to expand the impact of the resources integrated into this course.”
More information on the pop-up course is available on the Provost’s Office website.
It also was discussed at length in a December podcast by the UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health, available for listening or downloading online.