ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

This article reports the effects (on students’ social and learning experiences) of supporting students in the use of explicitly compassionate interactional strategies during their weekly seminar interactions. Also reported is the impact of this practice on individual performances in critical thinking in seminars. Methods: Findings of a cross disciplinary search on compassion were used to design a compassion focussed pedagogy (a CfP) for the university seminar. This pedagogy was then trialled, through action research, in two departments in a UK HEI. N=97 Humanities under and post graduate students and n=60 Business undergraduates participated in subject seminars that were run using the CfP. Template analysis was used to identify themes in the qualitative data sets: field notes of observed behaviours in seminars run with and without the CfP, films of assessed CfP seminars (n=48 students), and interviews and focus groups (n=33 students). In a final participating business module of ethnically diverse students, statistical analysis explored the effects of the CfP on individual critical thinking performances (n=38). Findings: Overall, students were attitudinally inclined to increase efforts over time to enhance their own and others’ social and learning experiences in seminars through compassionate behavioural interventions during discussions; they achieved, or failed to achieve this, in observable ways that were seen and agreed to be appropriate to assess as credit bearing towards their under and post graduate degrees by five out of five external examiners. Students found eye contact – inclusive, excluding or avoidant – was critical to mediating the spread of participation in their seminars. Findings also suggested, tentatively, the potential of the CfP to substantially change the national attainment gap in terms of critical thinking in seminars. http://www.herts.ac.uk/link/volume-2,-issue-1/assess-compassion-in-higher-education-how-and-why-would-we-do-that
http://www.herts.ac.uk/link/volume-2,-issue-1/assess-
compassion-in-higher-education-how-and-why-would-
we-do-that
... Nevertheless, compassion in itself is a psychobiological motivation [39] which, during task-focused group meetings specifically, can be understood as an intention to notice (not normalise) one's own or others' distress or disadvantaging, and then to take (wise) action to reduce or prevent this [37]. This underpins the evidencebased strategies that students (and staff) can use for compassionate management of their task-focused discussions/meetings in relation to their group work [13,37,39]. Precisely because these are practical skills of vigilance and appropriate action taking in group meetings, these skills are now credit-bearing on some degrees as at the host university for this study [13,14,37,40]. ...
... This underpins the evidencebased strategies that students (and staff) can use for compassionate management of their task-focused discussions/meetings in relation to their group work [13,37,39]. Precisely because these are practical skills of vigilance and appropriate action taking in group meetings, these skills are now credit-bearing on some degrees as at the host university for this study [13,14,37,40]. However, this pedagogy was developed pre-COVID-19 in the UK and not for online group work meetings but specifically for the face-to-face (classroom) context. ...
... Both pre-and post-intervention, the questionnaire on Group Work Behaviours (see Appendix A) explored the participants' experiences of those group work behaviours that had been cited by staff and several hundred students at the host university as-in their experience-most damaging to the effectiveness of offline/physical group meetings [13]. Both Gilbert, T and Harvey et al. [13,16,66], had earlier identified that monopolizing (talking so much in offline group meetings that others have little chance to speak) and non-contributing (or speaking very little in the meetings) were the two behaviours that most undermined inclusivity and group critical thinking in offline group meetings. ...
Article
Full-text available
HE’s pandemic-driven shift to online platforms has increased social and learning disconnection amongst students. In online group work/teamwork, many are reluctant to switch on their cameras to be more present to others. Compassion in group work/teamwork is defined as noticing, not normalizing, one’s own and/or others’ distress or disadvantaging and taking wise action to prevent or reduce this. This notion of compassion is being assessed in the HE sector using filmed task-focused in-class group work meetings to identify levels of both inclusivity and criticality around the team. This study investigates the use and outcomes of using the compassionate communications strategies (that were developed in and for the offline classroom) in online team meetings. In this mixed-methods study, two groups of four international STEM students, each from a sample of five UK universities, were video-recorded in task-focused group work meetings (TGMs) before and after an online interactive 90-min training session (‘the intervention’) on the Cognitive Skills of Compassionate Communications (CSCC) in teams. A comparison of the (pre and post CSCC intervention) quantitative and qualitative data results indicated, post-intervention, a significant increase in students’ screen gaze attentiveness to each other, and reasons why students’ motivation to switch on their cameras had changed. Keywords: cognitive skills; compassion; team/group work; online; screen gaze
... Nevertheless, compassion in itself is a psychobiological motivation [39] which, during task-focused group meetings specifically, can be understood as an intention to notice (not normalise) one's own or others' distress or disadvantaging, and then to take (wise) action to reduce or prevent this [37]. This underpins the evidencebased strategies that students (and staff) can use for compassionate management of their task-focused discussions/meetings in relation to their group work [13,37,39]. Precisely because these are practical skills of vigilance and appropriate action taking in group meetings, these skills are now credit-bearing on some degrees as at the host university for this study [13,14,37,40]. ...
... This underpins the evidencebased strategies that students (and staff) can use for compassionate management of their task-focused discussions/meetings in relation to their group work [13,37,39]. Precisely because these are practical skills of vigilance and appropriate action taking in group meetings, these skills are now credit-bearing on some degrees as at the host university for this study [13,14,37,40]. However, this pedagogy was developed pre-COVID-19 in the UK and not for online group work meetings but specifically for the face-to-face (classroom) context. ...
... Both pre-and post-intervention, the questionnaire on Group Work Behaviours (see Appendix A) explored the participants' experiences of those group work behaviours that had been cited by staff and several hundred students at the host university as-in their experience-most damaging to the effectiveness of offline/physical group meetings [13]. Both Gilbert, T and Harvey et al. [13,16,66], had earlier identified that monopolizing (talking so much in offline group meetings that others have little chance to speak) and non-contributing (or speaking very little in the meetings) were the two behaviours that most undermined inclusivity and group critical thinking in offline group meetings. ...
Article
Full-text available
HE’s pandemic-driven shift to online platforms has increased social and learning disconnection amongst students. In online group work/teamwork, many are reluctant to switch on their cameras to be more present to others. Compassion in group work/teamwork is defined as noticing, not normalizing, one’s own and/or others’ distress or disadvantaging and taking wise action to prevent or reduce this. This notion of compassion is being assessed in the HE sector using filmed task-focused in-class group work meetings to identify levels of both inclusivity and criticality around the team. This study investigates the use and outcomes of using the compassionate communications strategies (that were developed in and for the offline classroom) in online team meetings. In this mixed-methods study, two groups of four international STEM students, each from a sample of five UK universities, were video-recorded in task-focused group work meetings (TGMs) before and after an online interactive 90-min training session (‘the intervention’) on the Cognitive Skills of Compassionate Communications (CSCC) in teams. A comparison of the (pre and post CSCC intervention) quantitative and qualitative data results indicated, post-intervention, a significant increase in students’ screen gaze attentiveness to each other, and reasons why students’ motivation to switch on their cameras had changed.
... This enabled strategies to be identified for students to use as compassionate co-managers-with their group members-of the discussion processes. It turns out that these were simple strategies, easily applied in an overall framework of compassion-focused pedagogy (CfP) (Gilbert 2016). ...
... 8 The notion of 'needing a leader' may be a questionable one for the seminar context. Research into the narratives of students encountering monopolizers in their group work has identified strong resentments towards over-talkers in group discussion work (Gilbert 2012(Gilbert , 2016. 9 This kind of literature search finding, potentially relatable to a concept of compassion for seminar management, was presented to students to consider in their first seminars, that is, on those modules that were using compassion-focused pedagogy. ...
... At the same time, a principle of the pedagogy was that any interventions were to be nonthreatening, and this was adhered to. 14 This does not suggest a mechanical or contrived use of compassion, and this is supported by students' accounts of using this and other CfP strategies (Gilbert 2016) in the workplace, on modules not offering any direct or immediate reward and in interview practice. For example, at IBM, interviewers complimented a group of (CfP) business undergraduates on the effectiveness of their collaborative skills in the team task. ...
Book
This book explores how global organisations and institutions manage Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) across their operations and within different cultural and value settings. It blends empirical evidence from collaborative research with original practical insights. In addition, the book demonstrates how the idea of narratives can be used as an approach to achieving EDI goals, presenting powerful stories on EDI implementation and challenges stemming from EDI-related abuses. Taken together, the book’s respective chapters depict the complexity of EDI in a nuanced way, reflecting the disparate realities of those involved in its implementation. The combination of academic research and insights from practitioners in the field give the book a unique position in the global management literature on EDI, while also yielding a wealth of valuable lessons and conclusions.
... This enabled strategies to be identified for students to use as compassionate co-managers-with their group members-of the discussion processes. It turns out that these were simple strategies, easily applied in an overall framework of compassion-focused pedagogy (CfP) (Gilbert 2016). ...
... At the same time, a principle of the pedagogy was that any interventions were to be nonthreatening, and this was adhered to. 14 This does not suggest a mechanical or contrived use of compassion, and this is supported by students' accounts of using this and other CfP strategies (Gilbert 2016) in the workplace, on modules not offering any direct or immediate reward and in interview practice. For example, at IBM, interviewers complimented a group of (CfP) business undergraduates on the effectiveness of their collaborative skills in the team task. ...
... The notion of 'needing a leader' may be a questionable one for the seminar context. Research into the narratives of students encountering monopolizers in their group work has identified strong resentments towards over-talkers in group discussion work(Gilbert 2012(Gilbert , 2016. 9 This kind of literature search finding, potentially relatable to a concept of compassion for seminar management, was presented to students to consider in their first seminars, that is, on those modules that were using compassion-focused pedagogy. ...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the neuroscience that underpins the psychology of compassion as a competency. The authors explain why this cognitive competency is now taught and assessed on modules of different degree subjects in a UK university. Design/methodology/approach The paper is divided into first, an exploration of recent psychology and neuroscience literature that illuminates the differences, and relationship, between empathy and compassion for safeness building in teams. Within that, the role of oxytocin in achieving social and intellectual rewards though the exercise of cognitive flexibility, working memory and impulsive inhibitory control (Zelazo et al., 2016) is also identified. The literature findings are compared against relevant qualitative data from the above university, so far, nine years of mixed methods action research on compassion-focussed pedagogy (CfP). Findings These are the concept and practice of embedding compassion as an assessed cognitive competency in university group work is illuminated and rationalised by research findings in neuroscience. Research limitations/implications The limitations of the study are that, so far, fMRI research methods have not been used to investigate student subjects involved in the CfP now in use. Practical implications The paper has implications for theory, policy and practice in relation to managing the increasing amount of group work that accompanies widening participation in higher education (HE). Social implications The social implications of what is outlined in the paper pertain to student mental health, and academic achievement; to policy and practice for HE curriculum design across subjects and disciplines; and for the HE remit to serve the public good. Originality/value A review of this kind specifically for student assessed group and its implications for student academic achievement and mental health has not, apparently, been published.
... This enabled strategies to be identified for students to use as compassionate co-managers-with their group members-of the discussion processes. It turns out that these were simple strategies, easily applied in an overall framework of compassion-focused pedagogy (CfP) (Gilbert 2016). ...
... At the same time, a principle of the pedagogy was that any interventions were to be nonthreatening, and this was adhered to. 14 This does not suggest a mechanical or contrived use of compassion, and this is supported by students' accounts of using this and other CfP strategies (Gilbert 2016) in the workplace, on modules not offering any direct or immediate reward and in interview practice. For example, at IBM, interviewers complimented a group of (CfP) business undergraduates on the effectiveness of their collaborative skills in the team task. ...
... The notion of 'needing a leader' may be a questionable one for the seminar context. Research into the narratives of students encountering monopolizers in their group work has identified strong resentments towards over-talkers in group discussion work(Gilbert 2012(Gilbert , 2016. 9 This kind of literature search finding, potentially relatable to a concept of compassion for seminar management, was presented to students to consider in their first seminars, that is, on those modules that were using compassion-focused pedagogy. ...
Chapter
Today there is a robust, theoretical basis, contributed by a range of disciplines, for rooting compassion into university curricula—an essential dimension to HE’s remit to serve the public good. Central to this is how compassion has come to be introduced to be credit bearing towards degrees, for example, in terms of assessment practice for group work, seminars and tutorials, in parts of the University of Hertfordshire (UH). This chapter focuses on one of the essential micro-skills of compassion that is easily taught in HE: the use of eye gaze for deliberatively compassionate purposes in group work. The UH has found this skill, among others, to be a key mediator of students’ noticing and addressing distress and/or disadvantaging of others in group work. The chapter explains how assessing such demonstrable, compassionate behaviours has mediated participant groups’ levels of inclusivity and critical thinking performance in three UH departments.
... In this context, it is suggested that compassion can be a protective factor of undergraduate students' mental health due to its association with fewer depressive symptoms and enhancement in well-being (Gilbert, 2016(Gilbert, , 2018. For this reason, its incorporation in the college curriculum of some countries has been proposed (Callister & Plante, 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
The Santa Clara Brief Compassion Scale (SCBCS) is a brief measure of compassion, created in English and translated into Brazilian Portuguese. Nonetheless, to date, no study has assessed the psychometric evidence of its Spanish translation. This study examines the evidence of validity, reliability, and factorial invariance according to the gender of a Spanish version of the SCBCS. Participants included 273 Peruvian university students (50.9% women) with an average age of 21.23 years (SD = 3.24); divided into two groups of men and women to conduct the invariance factor analysis. Other measures of mindfulness, well-being, empathy, and anxiety were applied along with the SCBCS. The Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) indicated that a unifactorial model adjusted significantly to the data (χ2 = 12,127, df = 5, p = .033, χ2 /df = 2.42, CFI = .998, RMSEA = .072 [CI90% .019, .125]; SRMR = .030, WRMR = .551) and presented good reliability (α = .90 [95% .88–.92]; ω = .91). Moreover, correlations between the SCBCS and other measures of mindfulness (r = .53, p < .05, cognitive empathy (r = 55; p < .05), affective empathy (r = .56, p < .05), well-being (r = .55, p < .05), and anxiety (r = −.46; p < .05) supported the convergent and discriminant validity. Likewise, the multiple-group CFA supported the factorial invariance according to the gender of the SCBCS. Results indicate that the SCBCS possesses evidence of validity, reliability, and invariance between men and women for measuring compassion toward others in Peruvian undergraduate students. SCBCS is expected to be used by researchers, healthcare professionals, teachers, and others as a useful measure of compassion in college students.
... Although extensive research and literature reviews have been conducted (Mountford-Zimdars et al, 2015), the sector is continuing to fund large-scale intervention projects (HEFCE, 2017/18: Addressing barriers to student success) in order to advance this evidence base. There has been some reported progress at an institutional level (e.g. the University of Wolverhampton; see Cureton, 2016) and evidence of the impact of inclusive pedagogy across departments (e.g. the University of Hertfordshire; see Gilbert, 2016) whilst other institutions are struggling to find tangible solutions to this complex phenomenon. This paper exemplifies the struggle of one UK higher education institution as it attempted to contextualise, research, and then evaluate small-scale interventions to improve confidence and belonging of BME students in order to address the apparent attainment gap ii . ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper outlines a research process which followed a case study approach (Yin, 2009) to explore the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) student attainment gap, and responses to it, at Sheffield Hallam University. A mixed methodology was envisaged, which would triangulate institutional data, measures of student engagement, focus groups and researcher reflections to construct an analysis of interventions aimed at enhancing confidence and belonging for BME students. This discussion focuses on the challenges experienced by the research team and uses the notion of a 'wicked problem' to help understand the limitations faced. 'Wicked problems' (Rittel, 1972; see Conklin, 2005) are entrenched in social complexity, which increases in line with the diversity of the associated stakeholders. These problems have the ability to divide opinion, provide limited solutions and lay blame for lack of results. This research examining the BME attainment gap can be critiqued using this notion of a 'wicked problem', noting that, without recognition, this issue has the potential to become ubiquitous and almost unsolvable.
Chapter
The call to decolonise the curriculum is being heard not only within universities but also increasingly, since the killing of George Floyd, on streets across the world from protesters in the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and other movements. But what exactly is it that they are demanding? What are its origins and objectives? Here, with specific reference to the UK, we explore the background and contexts for the growth of the decolonising the curriculum movement; reflect on its significance and potential for teaching, learning and educational outcomes; and finally consider some strategies for taking it forward in our discipline.
Chapter
This chapter directs attention to calls to integrate compassion training in curricula throughout the education system. Following a review of current Higher Education (HE) aims and objectives, and the potential psychological impacts that these can have on staff and students, we outline a case for compassion based initiatives in education. We discuss the nature and functions of compassion, as well as how compassion can heighten prosocial competencies. We then consider how compassion based approaches can be - and have been - implemented in education settings, including HE, to promote the health and well-being of staff and students, as well as academic performance. We argue that elements of compassion should underpin the training of lecturers (and teachers), as well as students, if UK institutes of learning truly embrace the various core values they advertise.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.