What happens within this Ph.D. project:

Compared to their non-studying counterparts, university students face more stress, a higher prevalence of mental health problems, and higher burn-out rates. If that wasn’t enough, this academic distress tends to increase throughout their studies while their well-being is on a constant decrease.

Scientific research has long discovered this phenomenon and is looking for potential solutions. Nonetheless, researchers mostly focused on how one can treat their symptoms of stress and depressive states. Positive psychology (Seligman, 1998), however, follows another approach. Namely, that of the presence of well-being compared to the absence of ill-being. This will be the theoretical framework we will base our research upon.

When targeting student well-being, student resilience comes to mind and its potential to strengthen students when facing academic distress. To cluster the broad findings concerning factors contributing to resilience, we introduce the self-determination theory (Decy & Ryan, 1983) as well. Within this project, we want to focus on resilience factors that can be altered within the learning environment.

The Ph.D. project consists of different phases:

Phase One: Finding a final set of resilience factors in line with the theoretical framework. To reach this research goal, we want to conduct semi-structured interviews with the different stakeholders of student well-being. Beyond that, a systematic review is supposed to give a rough overview of resilience factors focusing on student well-being.

Phase Two: With this final set of resilience factors, we want to survey these at the University of Groningen to get further insight into how the factors interact and how student well-being is perceived at our university.

Phase Three: Based on the previous findings, we want to implement an intervention targeting student well-being. Participants of this intervention will be actors within the learning environment, namely professors, curricula designers, etc.

Phase Four: This intervention will be evaluated concerning its efficacy.