Professor Cranney's engagement with broader educational issues began with a leadership role in an institutional revamp of HDR student supervision policy and practice, followed by an inaugural ITET Fellowship. Through subsequent Fellowship and grant programs, Jacky has led institutional and national innovation in undergraduate psychology education and in evidence-based self-management for all students. She also contributed as a team member to the Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project. Her awards include two VCATEs and two national (Carrick, OLT) citations (with colleagues), and the APS Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology Education. Jacky made significant contributions to quality education at UNSW (eg though relevant committees of the Academic Board) and nationally (eg as a founding member and vice-president of the Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows), and to quality psychology education (eg through the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council Working Committee, and APS Education Committees). She currently holds leadership positions in national and international psychology associations.
Jacky’s current interests are in (a) ensuring quality student experience and learning outcomes within the context of essential twenty-first century literacies, including psychological literacy (the capacity to intentionally use psychology to achieve personal, professional and society goals), (b) maximising student success and wellbeing by providing opportunities to develop self-management capacity, and (c) promoting inclusive educational leadership in the higher education sector.
University Student Self-management, Success and Wellbeing
This project aims to engage academics (who teach) in learning how to better shape the curriculum environment to support student academic success and the development of self-management capacity. Self-management is the capacity to effectively work toward achieving meaningful goals, and to be flexible in the face of setbacks. Evidence-based self-management is one aspect of psychological literacy, which is the capacity to utilise psychological principles to meet personal, professional and societal needs (see psychliteracy.com).
Psychological science has delivered evidence-based self-management strategies (e.g., time and motivation management, emotional regulation, study strategies) that are particularly advantageous for university students, as these strategies enable increased personal and professional success during both studies and career, as well as broader positive societal impact, given the leadership potential of graduates. In addition, it is well documented nationally and internationally that the levels of distress experienced by university students is well above average, and this distress is associated with anxiety, depression and suicide. Thus, from a health psychology perspective, this project is framed in terms of prevention and early intervention, as well as the promotion of success and wellbeing (see unistudentsuccess.com; thefridge.org.au).
The theoretical framework is primarily self-determination theory, which has received empirical support in diverse contexts, including educational contexts (see SelfDeterminationTheory.org). This theory also aligns with key educational theories regarding the design and delivery of the curriculum to increase student engagement and success, and with work engagement models emanating from organisational psychology.
Aims: The aims of this project are to increase the capacity of academics to design and deliver curricula that (a) are evidence-based in terms of utilising teaching, learning and assessment strategies that increase student engagement and academic success, and (b) provide students with opportunities to further develop self-management skills. A further aim is to support UNSW in becoming a “Healthy University” and thus adopt a university-wide evidence-based approach to supporting student success and wellbeing.
Progress and outcomes: This project takes a multi-pronged approach to advancing the aims, including student research projects, curricular resource development, and continuous Faculty- and University-level advocacy. Some highlights in terms of progress/outcomes:
- Several well-received UNSW, national and international presentations at higher education conferences and workshops (to academics and student support staff) on the topic.
- A UNSW Scientia Education Academy Lecture, and an in-depth discussion of this the topic at an Academy meeting. As a result, PVCE leadership has ensured that Foundations of University Learning and Teaching candidates are being exposed to the relevant training material; reportedly there has been significant positive feedback on this material.
- Publication of an accessible book for university students on the topic of evidence-based self-management (“The Rubber Brain” aapbooks.com). Several universities are now adopting this book as a recommended text in their courses.
1. More of #1 and #3 above, but with a particular focus on staff training opportunities, for example:
2. Contribute to specific programs within UNSW (e.g., tutor training in BABS); but most importantly:
3. In collaboration with other Scientia Education Academy Fellows and other stakeholders, develop a university-wide approach to UNSW becoming a “Healthy University”.
Visit the initiatives page here.
UNSW level contributions
- UNSW Scientia Education Academy
- Innovative Teaching and Educational Technology Fellowship (2002)
- Teaching Fellowship (2015)
- University Women in Leadership Program (2007)
- Australian Learning and Teaching Council National Teaching Fellowship (2010-2012)
- Australian Psychological Society Leadership Program (2008)
- Carrick Associate Fellowship (2006-2008)
Student wellbeing has traditionally been considered the domain of student support services.
In contrast, A/Prof Cranney argues that self-management, success and wellbeing are key aspects of the student experience of the formal curriculum, and so can and should be explicitly considered at the program level, supported by an integrated university-wide approach.
Relevant research logically leads to policy recommendations that should empower students to achieve meaningful personal and professional goals, with long-term ‘ripple effect’ benefits to wider communities.
Lecture recording available here.
Self-management, success and wellbeing are key aspects of the student experience of the formal curriculum, and so should be explicitly considered at the program level in terms of curriculum design and delivery.
Moreover, a key implication of psychological research on mental health is that there is scope to increase the population’s capacity to experience wellbeing. Guided by this research, progressive universities could adopt a “healthy universities” population health approach to formulating and implementing policy to support student success. One strategy in such an approach is to utilise psychological research (e.g., based on self-determination theory) to inform curriculum design and delivery in a way that supports student success. Practical examples are given.
A second strategy is that we can explicitly, within the formal curriculum, give students opportunities to further develop self-management, the capacity to effectively pursue meaningful goals, and to be flexible in the face of setbacks. Within the academic context, self-management includes time-management, effective study skills, and emotional regulation. Practical examples are given for how evidence-based self-management tools have been and could be integrated into diverse courses.
The recording of this seminar is available via Moodle.