Impact of writing workshops on doctoral student wellness
Keywords:doctoral students, stress, anxiety, wellbeing, thesis writing, writing workshops, writing retreats
Few interventions addressing student wellbeing have been designed or evaluated specifically with doctoral students in mind despite the doctoral experience being distinct from that of other students. We therefore explore the benefits of interventions designed specifically to address a key source of stress or anxiety for doctoral students, namely thesis writing.
This research uses a mixed-methods approach to explore the ways in which doctoral thesis writing support sessions, in the form of writing workshops or writing retreats, can reduce the stress and anxiety associated with thesis writing specifically or academic writing more generally. Firstly, we quantified the reduction in writing related stress and anxiety associated with workshop participation using a survey completed before and after workshop attendance. Subsequently, we gathered student experiences of workshop participation through focus group interviews.
Survey responses showed a clear reduction in participants’ levels of stress and anxiety related to thesis writing and focus group respondents described many clear benefits of participating in writing support sessions. We conclude that participation in thesis writing workshops and writing retreats is a valuable strategy for reducing stress and anxiety associated with thesis writing. The sense of empowerment and confidence that comes from discussing thesis writing in a supportive environment with others in the same situation, and the opportunity to experiment with new tools and strategies, is very valuable for improving the wellbeing of doctoral students.
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