How can learning and studying affect our wellbeing?

In a tertiary educational context, academic under-preparedness is one of the risk factors that can exacerbate problems with wellbeing, whereas knowing how to effectively learn and study to meet the academic demands of your course can work to protect your wellbeing 1, 2.

Learning is fun! More fun than all the other sins anyway. But if you are doing it properly, it takes significant time and energy, which you may already be low on if you are working or fulfilling other commitments. Time and energy are finite resources, so we have to know how to make good decisions about how to manage them, otherwise our wellbeing, and our ability to think, problem solve, and control our emotions is reduced.

In law, there is an enormous amount to learn, and sometimes the subject matter is contested i.e. there are differing perspectives, viewpoints, arguments etc. Learning the law can therefore give rise to feelings of confusion and doubt. It is natural to feel uncomfortable with uncertainty, but don’t let doubt about subject matter develop into doubting yourself, or a lack of self-confidence.

The 2014 Student Minds Report identified that in some learning contexts, students have a fear of being judged, either by their peers in a tutorial, or by whoever is marking their work. Ronald Barnett (2007) identifies three connected fears that students face in a higher education context: the fear of failure in a given task (tutorial answer, assessment or exam), the fear that one has fallen short of the role in which one has been cast (a potential member of the legal profession capable of advising people about their legal problems) and the fear of rejection as a person. Learning and studying, then, can have an enormous impact not only on your confidence in your work3 and ability, but also on your confidence in your identity as a law student, and indeed your own sense of self.

References

1. Baik, C., Larcombe, W., Brooker, A., Wyn, J., Allen, L., Brett, M., Field, R., and James R. (2017). Enhancing Student Mental Wellbeing: A Handbook for Academic Educators. Melbourne, VIC: Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education. Retrieved from unistudentwellbeing.edu.au
2. Vines and Morgan, ‘Contemplative Practice in the Law School: Breaking Barriers to Learning and Resilience’ in R.Field, J. Duffy and C. James, Legal Education and Lawyer Well-being: Evidence from Australia and beyond. (Ashgate, 2016.)
3. Houghton, A. & Anderson, J. (2017). Embedding Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum: Maximising Success in Higher Education, Higher Education Academy: York.


Information that appears on the TCB Wellness website is general information only and is not intended to be medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or instruction. The TC Beirne School of Law encourages students who have health-related concerns or questions to seek professional healthcare assistance, either from the student services provided at UQ or from their general practitioner.

Last updated:
23 February 2018