Compassion-Focused Pedagogy

The University of Hertfordshire is applying its research on the cognitive skills of compassionate communications to teaching and assessment of students in their team/group work.

Twenty years of compassion-focused research - within clinical psychology, group psychotherapy, neuroscience and ethnography - have identified that compassion can be accompanied by any number of emotions (in many contexts), but it is not itself an emotion. Rather, compassion is a psycho-biologically and evolutionarily developed motivation to: notice (not normalise) the distress or disadvantaging of self or others and take wise action to reduce or prevent that (The Compassionate Mind Foundation). The team is leading on the rollout of our applied research on the evidenced-based, practical micro skills of compassionate communications so that they may be embedded and assessed (rewarded) - along with research skills and critical perspectives – at the UH.  This is happening across disciplines in line with the university's current 5-year strategic plan.

The purpose is to build a robust alternative to Universities over valuing of competitive individualism that too often undermines, not enhances, students' academic performance and grades, and their sense of safe belonging.  Our studies also show that this easily taught approach for compassionately run groupwork can result in real support, within the curriculum, across disciplines for student-reported mental wellbeing and social connectivity. It has been found to improve learning engagement, and grades too, especially in relation to critical thinking.

Compassion-Focused Pedagogy for teamwork has become recognised as being a highly important pedagogic approach to improving the student team work experience and to date, staff across disciplines from seventy-five universities have joined our network to promote this.  Our key objective is to develop critically compassionate, teamworking graduates who will use their degrees to serve the public good.

Further details and guidance on using our compassion-focused pedagogy can be found by the following Youtube playlist.