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Teachable Moments

The following is a collection of reusable learning activities and information to promote and embed student wellbeing in the curriculum.

The activities below are presented in a linear sequence, representative of the curriculum delivery timeline.

You can adapt and implement these activities as and when teachable moments arise during the semester.

Teachable moments are seen as unplanned opportunities when we as lecturers/facilitators have a chance to offer insight, advice or guidance. They may consist of a brief digression, a planned activity or a complete workshop, the curation below is a mix of all three.

Teachable Moments Calendar

Introducing Student Wellbeing

  • Activity Overview

    Activity aim

    This video helps staff raise awareness of 'Student Wellbeing' services on offer at Ulster to support students who experience a range of stressors and additional needs. Raising students’ awareness of how to contact Student Wellbeing.

    When to use

    Staff can introduce this during course induction (Week 0) or module introduction (Week 1) and at known challenging points in the curriculum (Week 8).

    Delivery guidelines

    Integrate this Multimedia Video as part of your introduction delivery, and upload it into your BB Module Welcome Area for review and signposting.

    Build this into your BB Learn Module Area via the Contact Card.

    This will raise awareness and encourage students to disclose pressures and/or disabilities, and access available wellbeing support.

Icebreakers and Socialisation Activities

Icebreakers are discussion questions or activities used to help participants relax and ease them into a learning situation or a group activity. They are great for encouraging students to get to know one another and feel comfortable with one another.

  • Activity Overview

    Activity aim

    This is a collection of nine icebreakers and socialisation activities to build a sense of belonging and community.

    When to use

    At Induction/Module Introductions. For medium and large module cohorts, you may use this multiple times in the early weeks of the module, so all students get to know as many as peers as possible within the cohort.

  • Why are Icebreakers important?

    From the outset, building a sense of community is a vital foundation for any engaging curriculum experience.  Setting the scene from the very beginning of a module through some socialisation activities is the first step in facilitating what will hopefully be a rich community of learners where all learners feel respected, safe and supported. Once this is achieved, we can aim to successfully develop a culture of learning and the development of higher-order thinking skills.

    However, moving through the semester and as we deliver our curriculum online, socialisation activities can also be a valuable way of maintaining an open, friendly, inclusive and supportive environment, whilst encouraging reciprocity amongst students.

    Icebreakers are discussion questions or activities used to help participants relax and ease them into a learning situation or a group activity. They are great for encouraging students to get to know one another and feel comfortable with one another.

    Informal icebreaker activities will:

    • help the tutor and students to personalise themselves and to build a community of learners
    • break down social barriers
    • help people to relax
    • create a positive group atmosphere
    • energise and motivate
    • encourage learners to participate from the start of a session
    • give your students a low-stakes opportunity to learn how to use online tools to develop connections with their classmates

    Using other social media or blog spaces outside of the course platform can also allow (and encourage) the community of learners to exist and develop over several social means concurrently.

    Below is a summary of ideas you might consider trying over the semester. Most can be adopted in both the face to face and the online environments.

  • Student Participation Guidance

    It is recommended the following narrative is used as an introductory guide for any ice-breakers you adapt.

    When participating in all discussion activities, please adhere to the following guidelines:

    • Be polite and respectful of other participants, their views and beliefs
    • Keep any discussion posts/contribution relevant and appropriate to the particular topic
    • Maintain confidentiality where appropriate
    • Students should not:
    • post abusive or defamatory comments nor share inappropriate content
    • copy or forward any private messages without permission
    • breach copyright when sharing content
    • post material that may contain viruses that will disrupt University systems

    Use the BBL space for promotional material and advertising.

  • Example icebreakers


It is known that there are specific trigger points in the curriculum delivery timeline that can cause stress and anxiety to our students. Below are a collection of reusable workshops slides designed specifically to address these trigger points. To aid your adoption of when and how to utilise these resources view the teachable moments guidance.

  • Managing Change Workshop

    Activity aim

    To help students develop awareness and understanding of the impact of any transition, change or new demand on their wellbeing and motivation, and to enable them to respond in ways that ensure they develop coping strategies, remain motivated and develop resilience.

    When to use

    The following presentation can be used by members of staff to help students prepare for and/or manage a new demand or any change in their situation, including:

    • Transitioning into UU (Induction/Welcome Week)
    • Unexpected change to their curriculum or student experience or UU life-  Covid19
    • Going on professional practice/work placement
    • Going on a visit/exchange e.g. to a new area/country
    • Graduating or preparing to enter the world of employment/work

    Delivery guidelines

    The Powerpoint slides and delivery notes provided will enable staff facilitating the workshop to adjust or tailor an input to meet the needs of their student group and to discuss the specific change their students are encountering.

    This will help students to recognise the importance of developing emotional intelligence and related skills to help them manage their wellbeing and recognise this as an essential professional and life skill.

  • Groups That Work Workshop

    Activity aim

    This workshop aims to prevent the risks of stress, social anxiety and conflict which often arise within during group activities. Students identify their needs, those of others and essential communication skills, developing a group contract to promote their engagement, motivation and whole group performance.

    When to use

    At Induction/Module Introductions, whole group small group or at the beginning of any activity, assignment or project team or new task group, to help group members ‘norm, storm and perform’.

    Delivery guidelines

    Staff should also encourage team work in  a group by assigning more group focused projects.

  • Stress Management Workshop

    Stress is always present, and knowing how to measure, monitor and manage personal stress levels are important skills which can prevent stress undermining our wellbeing performance and success. 

    Activity aim

    This workshop will help students identify their individual predisposition to stress and measure current stresses they are experiencing. They will learn about their body's physiological and psychological response to stress. They will be introduced to skills or techniques for challenging stressful thinking patterns and to develop their coping skills or resilience when responding to stressful situations.

    When to use

    This material can be introduced flexibly eg. during transitions such as induction or pre-placement, when issuing assignments or prior to examinations.

    Delivery guidelines

    Staff facilitating this workshop will help students to recognise that measuring and managing stress in their lives is essential to their ongoing motivation, wellbeing and achievement, as well as an essential professional and life skill.

    The workshop includes various exercises which allow students to reflect upon and measure their stress levels. Students complete these exercises independently during the workshop.

    Staff should reassure participants they will not have to disclose or discuss their life circumstances, stressors or outcomes from these baseline exercises within the group.

    Staff should also encourage and de-stigmatise help seeking behaviour, and signpost students to Student Wellbeing support available in UU.

  • Work, Study, Life Balance Workshop

    Students accessing the curriculum on-line from home, will experience new and additional practical challenges and distractions which  could potentially undermine their engagement and motivation.

    Students will need to be flexible, focused and persistent, and this workshop aims to help them reflect on their circumstances to develop positive thinking and motivation, using specific practices and skills essential for study success.

    Activity aim

    This workshop aims to help students reflect on their current circumstances and the many competing pressures. It helps them appreciate they have choices (good and bad) and need to learn to develop a healthy balance in their life.

    Participants will self-assess/self reflect and are helped to develop positive thinking, as well as new time management and task prioritisation practices and skills which will prevent stress and anxiety, and maintain their motivation for success.

    When to use

    Studies Advisors may find it helpful to have students who are accessing the curriculum on-line Post Covid-19 , to reflect on their current experience and the new additional practical challenges and distractions which could potentially undermine their engagement, motivation and success.

    They will plan for success using tools and positive thinking skills.

    Delivery guidelines

    Resources which accompany the PowerPoint presentation are intended to enable the participants to self-assess and plan for motivation and performance success.

  • Conversations that Motivate Webinar

    Activity aim

    This webinar will help students understand how solutions focused (SF) rather than problem dominated thinking and self-talk and using coaching questions can help empower and release their change potential. Focusing on their life in UU and one area or skill in which they would like to see improvement or change, students directly experience the motivational benefits of a Solutions Focused coaching input.

    When to use

    This webinar can be used in a stand-alone input with individuals or small or large groups to dispel negative or de-motivated thinking and behaviour by using ‘appreciative enquiry’ and SF questions to help them envisage and then creatively action plan for the change that they want to see happen.

    Delivery guidelines

    This webinar can be introduced during an on-line ‘distanced delivery’ and will not require the facilitating staff to directly input. It could be linked to other workshop inputs in this series.

  • Mindset Matters Workshop

    Activity aim

    Students encounter a varied range of academic and non-academic demands in their lives while studying at university. This workshop introduces them to 'A Growth Mindset' which is important as it develops resilient thinking, encourages coping, motivation and persistence in the face of challenges or setbacks, prevents stress and emphasises ongoing personal development.

    When to use

    This material can be introduced flexibly eg. during transitions such as induction or pre-placement, when issuing assignments or prior to examinations.


  • Helping Distressed Students

    Staff are often the first point of contact when a student experiences a wellbeing challenge. Knowing how to respond to students in distress can be challenging.

    This guidance aims to help staff clarify the boundaries and limitations of your role,  and provides details of the actions you can take to get advice and appropriate help for a student wellbeing issue or when a student is at risk.

  • Discussing Students with Family and Friends

    When there is a perceived wellbeing concern, staff may be given information by a concerned third party, asked for information or invited to discuss a student issue.

    This guidance will help you understand what is and is not appropriate for you to say or do, in such circumstances.

  • Critical Incident: What staff can do to help

    Staff are often immediately involved in supporting students who have been impacted by a crisis event involving their peers. This guidance will help you in your role following a ‘critical incident’ explaining what to expect and what to say and do.

    It also explains the role of campus-based Student Wellbeing  teams in supporting students following a critical Incident.

Useful Resources