Developing compassionate pedagogical practice with students as co-researchers

Waddington, K. and Bonaparte, B. 2022. Developing compassionate pedagogical practice with students as co-researchers. UK Society for Research into Higher Educaton & Open University Press.

TitleDeveloping compassionate pedagogical practice with students as co-researchers
AuthorsWaddington, K. and Bonaparte, B.
TypeProject report
Abstract

This research was a small-scale qualitative study undertaken by a research team comprising seven undergraduate psychology students and three academics working together as co-researchers and co-creators of knowledge. The rationale for the study was in support of the ‘compassion turn’ in higher education (HE), which has arisen in response to the damaging effects to students and staff of neoliberal HE policy. The overarching research questions addressed were: (i) what are the core components of compassionate pedagogy at individual (teacher), module, course and institutional levels of analysis? and (ii) to what extent does working with students as co-researchers enhance the quality, relevance and application of compassionate pedagogical research?

The report sets out a conceptual and theoretical framework grounded in critical pedagogy, critical compassion, study crafting, and self-compassion. Study crafting involves enabling students to: (a) increase structural and social study resources; (b) increase challenging study demands/goals; and (c) decrease unhelpful study demands.
The research design and methodology used arts-based workshops, and Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment, in order to develop student-led resources and tools to promote compassionate pedagogical practice. It advances a relational approach to working with students as co-researchers based on the premise of working together as equal thinking partners. This involves courage and vulnerability; by working as co-researchers and teachers enabled us to role model ways of practicing compassion in the classroom.

We advance a definition of compassionate pedagogy arising from the research that challenges the discourse of suffering, offering a more critical, intersectional perspective: Recognising and noticing the difference, discrimination, and bias in how people are being treated, how students are learning and being taught, and the compassionate actions – both strategic and small – that we all need to take to promote and support student and staff wellbeing. We also reflect on how disruption and delays to the research caused by the pandemic led to an appreciation of ‘slow scholarship’ and the importance of ‘Ease’ as a core component of a Thinking Environment, as illustrated in a student co-researcher’s reflection: The workshop atmosphere (everyone respecting each other’s turn to speak, no sense of rush, etc.) made it feel like a relaxing space where I could share my thoughts and ideas on something safely.

KeywordsCompassionate pedagogy
students as co-creators
Thinking Environment
Year2022
PublisherSociety for Research into Higher Educaton & Open University Press
Place of publicationUK
Publication dates
Published15 Mar 2023
FunderSociety for Research into Higher Education (SRHE)
File
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Web address (URL)https://srhe.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/WADDINGTONBONAPARTE_FINAL_REPORT.pdf

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