Imperial Learning Well Project

Project summary

The Learning Well Project is a two-year study (2023-2025) funded by the President’s Excellence Fund for Learning and Teaching Innovation. This project is aligned with the College’s Race Equality Charter Action Plan (2021) and Learning and Teaching Strategy (2017) that have foregrounded the importance of students’ general wellbeing for their academic potential. This work also urges the need for an inclusive and active learning environment that nurtures students to focus on broader educational values and goals beyond attainment. Building on our earlier work on Supporting the Identity Development of Underrepresented Students (SIDUS), our aims are to:

  • explore Imperial undergraduate students’ study strategies and wellbeing-related issues to identify gaps in current study support and wellbeing resources
  • develop evidence-based materials informed by primary research data gathered from student focus groups, a student survey and professional conversations conducted with colleagues in relevant departments based across the College.

Understanding how students navigate their academic studies and university life will contribute to our knowledge of their successes, challenges and opportunities, allowing for better support of the wellbeing of our students.

Intended outcomes and outputs

Driven by the University’s priority to prioritise students’ wellbeing in relation to their learning, and insights from our students and educational research projects, we will work with key student support services across the University to synergise new and existing resources and expertise and co-develop these into a flexible student wellbeing learning programme. The aim of this will be to engage students with evidence-based learning and wellbeing strategies to consider their study approaches and scaffold students to recognise learning behaviours linked to improved wellbeing. The developed resources will be linked to existing staff training workshops so that staff can also use these to support their students.

Essentially, our intention is to move away from the deficit-based model (i.e. ‘something goes wrong which needs to be referred or fixed’) and acknowledge that simply knowing or being aware of something (e.g. work/life balance is an important part of university life) is not sufficient to change one’s behaviours and institutional culture. In other words, simply having ‘knowledge’ does not equal long-term and sustainable change. We intend to take a more proactive approach by creating a safe and transparent space for students to reflect, explore and discuss wellbeing-related issues and different study strategies. We would like to empower students to take an evidenced approach to their study and incorporate a range of wellness activities into their own learning journey. It is our aim that this proactive approach will help to mitigate the ‘stigma around mental health’. To realise this initiative, there are three key areas of focus:


Collaborating with Student Support Services

Working in collaboration with student support services across the College (e.g., Education Office, Student Services, Library Services, Imperial College Union) to map out and bring together various resources and expertise that support student study and wellbeing.

Fostering student collaboration

Working in partnership with students through the StudentShapers programme to identify gaps in current study support and wellbeing resources and develop evidence-based examples/resources (informed by student focus groups and surveys across the departments).

Building a 'Fit to Learn' Toolkit

Where relevant, strengthening the scientific and psychological underpinning for the new and existing resources to develop into a ‘fit to learn’ toolkit and a flexible learning programme that can be used/adapted by academic departments to actively assist student learning, happiness and wellbeing.

The learning resources developed from the project are expected to be applicable across departments and faculties, given the breadth of views and learning trajectories of the STEMM students we have gathered across the College. Students’ active engagement in the creation of the resources will enhance the relevance and usefulness to the Imperial learning and teaching context, adding value to the support of student wellbeing. The features of authenticity of these resources strive to empower and inspire students to recognise their learning behaviours linked to improved wellbeing, which can contribute to their level of learning engagement and success.

Project presentations and publications

Chiu, Y.L.T. & Sing, S. (2024). "It’s not how smart you are. It’s not how hard you work. It’s about the strategy you use": The Learning Well Project. Research project presented in CHERSNet seminar. 23 January, 2024, Imperial College London, UK. Presentation slides can be found here.

Chiu, Y.L.T., Bale, R., Sing, S., & Bannister, H. (2023). The Learning Well Project. Festival of Learning and Teaching, Imperial College London, UK. 17 May, 2023. Presentation slides can be found here.