Empathy and compassion: towards wellbeing in learning development


  • Daniela de Silva University of Westminster
  • Emma Dempsey University of Westminster




Wellbeing, empathy and compassion are increasingly discussed topics in relation to teaching, with one key question being the extent to which empathy and compassion in teaching can impact on student wellbeing as well as outcomes. Wellbeing is a broad spectrum of aspects, including health – physical, mental and emotional, life balance, happiness and fulfilment, and it is not always easy to pin-point which actions can make a difference to the students and their learning journey. This workshop aims to address some of these questions by giving attendees key information from a study skills professional on how they can integrate a compassionate approach into their teaching, followed by a facilitated discussion on this topic to enable attendees to form their own compassionate teaching plans. Using Mentimeter we will exchange ideas about the definitions of empathy and compassion and how they overlap and bring together a common goal in producing learning development sessions to a diverse range of students. 


The interactive part of the workshop will continue by attendees being divided into four groups (virtual) and given a jamboard link where the groups will be able to comment on whether compassion and empathy in the hybrid teaching and learning experience in the past academic year, contributed to improved wellbeing in their students’ journey. The groups will comment on wellbeing in the social experience, learning experience, academic performance and overall improved wellbeing in the student experience. The tangible take-aways from the workshop will be a deeper knowledge of empathy and compassion and their role in student wellbeing.



Author Biographies

Daniela de Silva, University of Westminster

Daniela de Silva is an Academic Engagement and Development Manager (Accessibility) in the Library and Archive Services at the University of Westminster. Daniela is an experienced higher education practitioner with expertise and longstanding experience in supporting students with neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, and ASC. She also works as an Academic Professional Development Fellow with CETI (Centre for Education and Teaching Innovation) at the University of Westminster and co-creates academic professional development sessions on innovative learning and teaching, inclusive course design, and digital accessibility. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

Emma Dempsey, University of Westminster

Emma Dempsey is Academic Engagement and Learning Developer at the University of Westminster. She started her career teaching English as a Second Language to international students in London and she enjoyed bringing together an international class of students. The importance of building rapport and making classrooms fun, informal, and secure places where each student feels comfortable to share and feels valued has always been the focus of Emma’ s work. Since then, she has worked in a variety of educational settings in the UK and abroad, in secondary schools, further education colleges, and universities, focussing on academic English, personal development and academic skills subjects.


Dhillon, S. (2018) “Whose wellbeing is it anyway?”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. doi: 10.47408/jldhe.v0i0.460.

Peila-Shuster, J. J. (2016) “Supporting student transitions: integrating life design, career construction, happenstance, and hope”, South African Journal of Higher Education, vol. 30, no.3., https://hdl.handle.net/10520/EJC197301 (accessed 24/08/22)




How to Cite

de Silva, D. and Dempsey, E. . (2022) “Empathy and compassion: towards wellbeing in learning development”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (25). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi22.988.