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Not sure how best to respond to students who are struggling?

A new website provides lecturers and supervisors with inspiration and guidance on how to deal with students in distress.

2021.09.14 | Sinne B. Jakobsen

A new website offers help and guidance to lecturers and supervisors who would like to know more about how to respond to students who are struggling. Photo: Colourbox


Exam anxiety, stress, writer's block, absenteeism... Students struggle with their academic performance for a variety of reasons, and there’s an increasing demand among lecturers and supervisors for more knowledge about whether and how to intervene, and not least, where these students can get the help they need.

This is precisely what a new website provides: good advice and guidance on what you as a lecturer or supervisor can do in response to signs that a student is struggling. The website is one of the fruits of the AU project ‘Student well-being from a lecturer’s perspective’ ( Studietrivsel i et underviserperspektiv) which draws on input from teaching staff at all five faculties to explore how lecturers and supervisors experience and respond to struggling students. Christian Waldstrøm, deputy head of the Department of Management, participated in the project. And he sees a lot of promise in the new website:

"In addition to being deeply dedicated to their subjects, today many lecturers and supervisors are also very aware of their students' well-being. When students aren’t thriving, it’s often due to problems that one neither should nor can solve as a lecturer or supervisor. Nonetheless, there’s a widespread desire for more practical knowledge about how to respond in such situations. This new website can serve as a useful resource and an important supplement to the ongoing dialogue about student well-being that teaching staff might have with their director of studies, for example.”

Thriving students learn better

The new website focuses on the many concrete dilemmas lecturers and supervisors face when dealing with struggling students, explained Mette Wittorff Schmidt, head of the Academic Support unit, which is behind the site.

The site offers guidance in clarifying one’s own role as lecturer and supervisor, tools for dealing with struggling students in different contexts, tips on how to handle conversations with these students about their well-being and an overview of resources students can be referred to for help.

“I hope that the lecturers and supervisors who are interested in more knowledge will benefit from the content, and that it will help many feel better prepared to deal with students who may be struggling. At the end of the day, this can make a huge difference for these students – a high level of well-being is a prerequisite for both motivation and engagement,” she explained.

Themes on the website:

  • What is my role as a lecturer and supervisor?
  • What are some of the signs that a student is struggling?
  • Dealing with struggling students in class, supervision, exam situations, group work
  • Conversations with struggling students about their well-being – How should I tackle them?
  • Who can I refer students to?
  • Your own well-being as a lecturer

Facts about the website:

  • The creation of the website was funded by the well-being funding pool AU was granted in 2020 by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science to promote well-being in higher education 2020. It was developed with support from the Committee on Education at AU.
  • The website stems from the cross-faculty project ‘Student well-being from a lecturer’s perspective’, which was carried out at AU in 2020-21. Thirteen lecturers from the five faculties participated in group interviews in November 2020.
  • It was developed collaboratively by the Centre for Educational Development, the Student Counsellors' Office and the Counselling and Support Centre under Academic Support at AU, which also coordinated the cross-faculty project.
  • Visit the new website at: https://educate.au.dk/en/responding-to-struggling-students/

Would you like to learn more?


Centre Director Mette Wittorff Schmidt
Email: mws@au.dk 
Tel.: +4529453669

Administrative, Administration (Academic), All groups, All AU units, Aarhus University