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Exploring professors’ experiences supporting graduate student well-being in Ontario faculties of education

Vera Woloshyn (Department of Educational Studies, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada)
Michael J. Savage (Department of Educational Studies, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada)
Snezana Ratkovic (Department of Educational Studies, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada)
Catherine Hands (Department of Educational Studies, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada)
Dragana Martinovic (Department of Education, University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada)

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education

ISSN: 2046-6854

Article publication date: 27 August 2019

Issue publication date: 15 October 2019

534

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore Ontario education professors’ perceptions of well-being, document ways in which they support graduate students’ well-being and discuss perceived challenges in doing so.

Design/methodology/approach

A basic interpretative design was used, with participants consisting of seven (four females, three males) tenured professors from five faculties of education in Ontario, Canada. Participants completed one to two semi-structured interviews. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed for member checking and read holistically to identify emergent themes across participants.

Findings

Participants provided multifaceted representations of well-being and reported that supporting graduate students’ psycho-socio-emotional well-being was a critical aspect of their role. They discussed the intentional use of specific strategies including creating inclusive learning environments, nurturing caring relationships, providing academic accommodations and promoting relevant on-campus supports and services. Finally, participants identified factors that challenged their abilities to support graduate students’ wellness including institutional norms and expectations, shifting student demographics and uncertainties with respect to professional capacities.

Practical implications

Graduate student mentorship should be included in the faculty reward system. The provision of private, specialized services offered by trained personnel is also recommended. Future research is needed to explore faculty experiences supporting and mentoring diverse groups of graduate students.

Originality/value

While limited in participant numbers and educational jurisdiction, this research extends current mentoring models by adding a mental health and well-being component, thus bridging gaps between well-being and graduate mentorship in higher education.

Keywords

Citation

Woloshyn, V., Savage, M.J., Ratkovic, S., Hands, C. and Martinovic, D. (2019), "Exploring professors’ experiences supporting graduate student well-being in Ontario faculties of education", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 397-411. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMCE-02-2019-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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