Supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing through the integration of companion animals into tutorial programmes at a teaching-led university
Keywords:student anxiety, companion animals, innovation, student experience, relational learning, mental health and wellbeing, tutorials, student engagement
This paper considers the protocols and processes of a small-scale project involving final year students and the companion animals (dogs and guinea pigs) of tutors, aimed at improving student wellbeing and fostering relational learning. Narratives and survey data revealed a range of perceived benefits including those relating to the technique of distraction to reduce anxiety and improve student wellbeing. Also identified are possible further benefits including relational learning and improved attendance. The paper reflects on a range of other issues, such as the welfare of the animals, potential risks and objections from staff and students. Recommendations from the pilot project are provided and the potential for further research identified.
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