The Science of Learning and Wellbeing is a 12-week undergraduate course developed by Dr. Santor at the University of Ottawa. The goal of the course is to teach students effective study habits and coping skills that have been shown to increase academic success, enhance wellbeing and improve relationships. Dr. Santor is a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience lecturing at the university and working in clinical practice. This course differs from many university courses in a number of ways. These include:
Acquisition of practical learning skills
Lectures and readings are supplemented with practical exercises to help students acquire the necessary learning and time management skills that can lead to better grades. In fact, 90% of students said that they did better in their other classes after taking this course. And 75% of students said they continued to use most of the skills they learned long after finishing the course.
Understanding the science behind the skills
Each of the 24 topics, from the importance and impact of sleep, to the effectiveness of relaxation breathing for both learning and mental health, to strategies to deal with unfairness while at school, are accompanied by the key scientific studies that support the effectiveness of the strategy and make the case for their use in day to day life.
Interactive self-assessments tools
Interactive online surveys and screening tools are an integral part of each lecture. These brief self-assessment tools allow students to identify their personal strengths, learning habits, and potential mental health difficulties. Feedback from these tools helps students understand the impact of a variety of factors that can affect their learning and well-being and can help them with the acquisition of the skills and strategies taught in this course.
Weekly habit-building exercises
Each lecture is accompanied by a brief worksheet to help students experience, appreciate and acquire the skill. Seven days of relaxation breathing is not enough to master the skill but it is sufficient to experience the benefit of those skills, which in most instances is enough to keep students using the skill. Once a skill is introduced, subsequent lectures become opportunities to restate the evidence supporting its use and to practice the skill again, and again, and again.
Skills are practiced and rehearsed throughout the course. Once a week, lectures often start with 4-minutes of relaxation breathing along with reminders of when to use it, and end with reminders of the most effective skills to for learning and on how to build grit.
How to write a great paper
Most students in most programs will have to write a number of papers. Many arrive not knowing how to do this. In this course, students learn and practice how to breakdown writing a paper into small elements, and get started on writing the first elements of a great paper. Instructors walk students through each and every element, with time to draft, revise and submit on time.
Option to retake and rewrite
Sometimes students, despite all of their best efforts, just do badly on a paper or on an exam. The approach take in this course is to provide students an opportunity to get it right, even if they blow it. The goal here is to get everyone up to speed on how to do well at papers and exams. That doesn’t always happen the first time around. But, with practice, most students get there
Our goal is to help every student succeed — learning all of the skills needed to enjoy school, succeed in their courses, and discover their untapped potential.
We would like to partner with other schools, colleges and universities to see this kind of course delivered in every institution.
All of the materials (i.e., lectures, slides, worksheets, quizzes, evaluation materials and readings, even the Brightspace/D2L export) are ready to go. We can show you how to get started quickly and help you out along the way.
Whether you are an administrator, instructor, student or even a parent of a student, please contact us if you are interested in learning more about how to make this course part of your learning experience at school.
Dr. Santor would be happy to talk to you about bring this course to your college or university at your convenience.
What students are saying about this course:
“I’ve been getting good grades because of the skills learned. And I’ve been having less stress.”
“Everything about the course helped me prepare for the university — taking notes, scheduling, using the Pomodoro technique to manage time, etc. I really recommend this class to any student.”
“I have been able to apply the skills to other classes and have been able to use the skills on fact-checking and mindfulness in other situations that cause me anxiety outside of class and exams.”
“Being able to redo assignments and tests gave me the opportunity to really learn how to do my best.”
“I definitely think this is my favourite class so far in terms of how organized and confident I feel. The material is extremely helpful for everyday life, and the speed that we are moving at is perfect to me.”
“This course from the very beginning was my comfort course. I first of all didn’t feel like I had to prove myself to the class or the professor in any way, which really took the pressure off. It was a place where I could go to learn, and make mistakes on the way. This class made me feel like my mistakes were okay, and it was the only class where I felt like the professor looked at us as people too and not just student numbers. It also gave me a sense of enjoyment with school, which is something that I used to have and longed for in university. It was almost like the lecture topics were planned accordingly to the stage in the semester, as sometimes I would leave class thinking that was exactly what I needed to learn in that moment. The skills, habits and techniques I learned greatly benefitted my first semester, and I can say with confidence that my mental state would not be where it is at this point if I had not taken this class. I believe that this class should be something that every first year should take as it benefitted me so much. “
List and description of lectures
Here is the list and description of lectures delivered over the 12-week course.
|Lecture 1: IntroductionIn this first lecture, you will be introduced to how this course works, as well as the two major themes that will be addressed throughout all of the lectures, namely what it means to be happy and successful and what skills you need to get there. Read more >>|
|Lecture 2: Five Pillars of the Good LifeContemporary psychologists believe that there are five domains that contribute to your overall wellbeing and happiness. In this lecture, you are introduced to the five domains of wellbeing, and how all of the skills taught in this course contribute in some way to these domains. Read more >>|
|Lecture 3: How to write a great paperWriting papers is a big part of many courses. In this lecture, you will be introduced to the key elements of a great paper. In subsequent lectures, you will be shown step-by-step how to excel at writing each and every element, until you have finished your first great paper. Read more >>|
|Lecture 3: Fast and effective note-takingNote-taking, when done correctly, can increase your retention your depth of understanding, help you stay on top of your classes and even reduce your boredom. This lecture covers a variety of strategies, such as how to make Cornell Note, as well as the use of comparison charts and diagrams. Read more >>|
|Lecture 4: The science of great sleepSleep is essential to your physical and mental health. In this lecture, you will learn about the mechanisms that govern how sleep affects most of what we do, including how we learn. You will also learn how to improve your sleep with a number of evidence-based tips and strategies. Read more >>|
|Lecture 5: Scheduling: How to make it all fitIn this seminar, you will learn about a number of strategies to improve your scheduling, increase your efficiency when you do study, and also learn about the extraordinary benefit that scheduling has for academic performance. Read more >>|
|Lecture 6: Beating the forgetting curveResearch shows that most of what you read or listen to in a lecture will be forgotten by the end of the day – unless you do something active with that information. In this lecture, you will learn about the most effective retention strategies. Read more >>|
|Lecture 7: Relaxation breathing & mindfulness Relaxation breathing and mindfulness have been shown to reduce stress, improve attention and even increase your math grades. In this lecture, you will learn about science, the explains the benefits of breathing and learn how to acquire these skills in just minutes a day. Read more >>|
|Lecture 8: Challenging negative thinkingEveryone has doubts. But sometimes, negative thoughts can overwhelm you. In this lecture, you will learn about the different types of negative thoughts and their impact as well as learn some of the most effective skills to deal with worries, doubts and what-ifs. Read more >>|
|Lecture 9: Test anxiety & exam readinessIn this lecture, you will learn how to prepare for exams, manage the worries and doubts that often arrive during an exam, as well as identify the pitfalls that most students make and which can be easily avoided.Read more >>|
|Lecture 10: Engine check In this lecture, you will review how well you have been able to all of the study skills and coping strategies you have learned into practice, and identify and troubleshoot the hurdles that many students face in turning these skills into lasting habits. Read more >>|
|Lecture 11: Managing finances Hard time making ends meet? Spending faster than you should? Can't reign in that desire to spend? In this lecture, you will learn about the strategies that can help you understand your spending habits, budget better, and resist the urge to spend. Read more >>|
|Lecture 12: Knowing and using your personal strengths Research shows that every one of us has a small number of character strengths and values. Knowing how to capitalize on your strengths can make work, life and relationships more fulfilling and make dealing with setbacks and difficulties easier when they arrive. Read more >>|
|Lecture 13: Goal setting & motivationGoal setting is difficult. It means putting things off that are often easier and a lot more fun, and it means making hard choices about what really matters to you most. Effective goal setting and tackling procrastination are crucial to finishing what you have started, getting to the next level and reaching your full potential. Read more >>|
|Lecture 14: Procrastination & GRITThe last hundred metres of a 5K run and the last two weeks of the semester are painful. You are out of gas, and it doesn't feel like you will make it. In this lecture, you will learn about the core components of GRIT and how to keep going. Read more >>|
|Lecture 15: Building lasting habits In this next lecture, you will learn about the science of habit formation, as well as about all of the strategies and tips that can help you build a lasting new habit that becomes part of your day. Read more >>|
|Lecture 16: Signs & symptoms of mental illness In this lecture you will learn about major types of mental illness, what will increase your risk and what you can do about it. You will also learn how to identify your tipping point, which is the point at which mental health difficulties become mental illness. Read more >>|
|Lecture 17: Asking for help Knowing when and how to ask for help is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make. Research shows that most people, at some point, won't ask for help even when they know they really need it. In this lecture, you will learn about the barriers to help-seeking and how to overcome them. Read more >>|
|Lecture 18: Social Emotional Skills :This lecture introduces you to the five domains of social-emotional learning, starting with the extraordinary benefit of emotional awareness and saying how you feel. Find out where you score on the types of skills and which ones you can improve on. Read more >>|
|Lecture 19: Social Emotional Skills :In this second part, you will learn about the skills you need to make and keep friends and partners and ways in which the people in your life are your biggest asset in reaching your goals at both school and work. You will also learn about responsible decision-making and self-management skills. Read more >>|
|Lecture 20: Dealing with setbacksHow you respond to a setback is often more important than the setback. In this lecture, you will learn how to overcome, persevere and turn setbacks and failures into growth opportunities. We also learn about your coping with failure style. Read more >>|
|Lecture 21: Dealing with unfairness and discrimination:This lecture introduces the psychological foundations for bias and prejudice, and the impact of microaggressions and discrimination. You will learn about proven strategies to reduce their impact of discrimination when it occurs. Read more >>|
|Lecture 22: Exercise, wellbeing and successIn this lecture, you will learn about the importance of exercise and activity for your health, wellbeing and academic grades. You don't have to move too much, or too fast. But the benefits of satying active are extraordinay. Read more >>|
|Lecture 23: Revisiting happiness & successIn this final lecture, we will revisit what we know about happiness, wellbeing and success and work to implement a plan to keep everything that you have learned and acquired going. Read more >>|