Student Wellness – Fall 2023 Newsletter 5

By October 27, 2023April 5th, 2024Smeal Academy Newsletter

Smeal Academy Fall 2023 Connections Newsletter 5 – Student Wellness

The goal of the Smeal Academy is to equip the Smeal community with best practices and strategies for teaching and learning with technology to support Smeal’s business education and research needs. This newsletter provides some tips and pointers to support student wellness as we move through the semester.

Supporting Student Wellness

A recent survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse revealed that college students want their professors and advisers to be very involved in promoting their mental health and well-being. What does that mean for us as instructors? There are course design choices we can make that support our curricular goals while at the same time supporting student wellness. There are two approaches to this that we can explore:

  • Being flexible about assessment
  • Encouraging access to mental health resources

There are a couple of easy ways to make our assessments more flexible to reduce pressure on students and encourage healthier choices.

  • Avoid assessments worth fifty percent or more of the final grade. More frequent, lower-stakes assessments provide better pathways to durable learning and eliminate the pressure caused by high-stakes assessments. When employing this strategy, consider dropping students’ lowest score(s). Everyone has days that don’t go as well as others, and this approach can reduce the pressure students feel to perform at their highest level on every assessment.
  • Consider offering extra credit opportunities to offset lower scores. Extra credit might even be awarded to students who complete stress-reduction activities outside of class. An added benefit is that these approaches may reduce the likelihood of academic integrity violations.

Connecting students with mental health resources and regularly checking in with them about how they are doing are easy ways to stay on top of student well-being:

  • Find opportunities in class to talk about stressors and stress management and direct students to available resources.
  • Course syllabi should include a Counseling and Psychological Services Statement.
  • Consider adding additional information to your course materials, such as links to Penn State’s Health Promotion and Wellness or the Red Folder initiative. These resources provide a wide variety of offerings designed to support students at all levels and locations.

Penn State is offering a weekly webinar series from October 30 to December 4 to explore strategies to support student mental health and wellness.

Flaherty, C. (2023, July 17). Supporting Student Wellness: What’s Enough and What’s Too Much? Inside Higher Ed | Higher Education News, Events and Jobs.

Loving Life. (2023). Why are Wellness Wednesday Quotes Beneficial For Companies? [Image]. Health and Wellbeing. 

The eLDIG team is here for the Smeal community. If you want to discuss an idea or need for your course(s), please don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation at

Upcoming Sessions

Smeal Academy Session: Supporting Student Wellness Through Course Design on November 1 at 11am

A recent survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse revealed that college students want their professors and advisers to be very involved in promoting their mental health and well-being. What does that mean for us in higher education? In this session, we will share some easy teaching strategies that you can implement today to support students that might make your job a little easier, too. It will be recorded and made available on the eLDIG website following the session. Please join us on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST via Zoom.

Smeal Academy Session: Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence in Business Education and Research Reading and Discussion Group – Session 1

Join us for the first session of a Smeal series on the role of artificial intelligence in our teaching and research, which will focus on our shared commitment to prepare leaders to responsibly leverage artificial intelligence in business. This session will be led by Dr. Michelle Darnell, Director of the Tarriff Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, in collaboration with the eLDIG team. Readings for Session 1 are available on SharePoint. Please join us on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, 10-11 am EST via Zoom. Be sure to mark your calendars for Session 2, led by Jiro Yoshida, on December 12th from 2-3 p.m.


  • Tip #1: Stay Connected to Your Students. Our recent Smeal Academy Newsletter detailed a variety of communication strategies. Use the Canvas Gradebook “Message Students Who…” feature to reach out to students who are missing assignments or lagging behind. A caring message can go a long way in helping struggling students feel seen.
  • Tip #2: Clarify Expectations. You can reduce student (and instructor) confusion about assignment expectations with rubrics and work samples. This eLDIG Assessment Series video will help you learn more about Canvas rubric design. You may also consider providing work samples by anonymizing and asking permission to share work samples from prior semesters.

Canvas New Quizzes

Instructure has implemented some of the changes Penn State and other institutions requested, and we are re-entering the preview period for New Quizzes. The updated timeline is as follows. Please note that we will not be able to deliver quizzes to students using the New Quizzes platform until at least Fall 2024. The eLDIG team is not aware of any discussions about discontinuing the use of Classic Canvas Quizzes.
new quizzes timeline

Contact Us

Email us at or fill out the eLDIG Contact form and we will be in touch.