Welcome to the Well-Link Lab

Enhancing student mental health & school-to-work transitions

Team Talk

About

Research in the lab focuses on the mental health of emerging adults and the psychological variables believed to play an important role for success in post-secondary/tertiary education and subsequent school-to-work transitions.

The specific objectives of the lab are to:

  • Advance research on the mental health and well-being of emerging adults

  • Explore the social, cognitive, and health outcomes of emerging adults who are making school-to-work transitions

  • Develop interventions and initiatives that will produce more positive mental health outcomes for emerging adults with a focus on those in post-secondary/tertiary education

  • Examine the role of experiential learning such as cooperative and work-integrated education on school-to-work transitions

  • Communicate research findings and collaborate with researchers and institutions around the globe

 
 

Research

Current research projects in the lab involve examining the impact of peer support and sense of belonging on the mental health and well-being of university students and also exploring the relationship between experiential learning and certain psychological constructs such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-concept, self-efficacy, motivation, study skills, and

work ethic.

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Well-Link Peer Support Platform

One in five Canadians will be affected by mental illness during the course of a single year, according to a 2011 report from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and 70 per cent of mental illnesses have their onset either before or during post-secondary study. The Well-link team is developing a peer support plaform to support mental health and wellbeing for post-secondary students and individuals transitioning from school to work. This project is supported by CIHR and is being developed with Gene Health and Partner.

International Gender Study

With Co-Lead Dr. Tracey Bowen (University of Toronto Mississauga) and with  partners from University West (Sweden), Edinburgh Napier University (Scotland), and Heriot-Watt University (Scotland), this multi-phase project is investigating gender disparities during work-integrated learning placements.

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Precarious Employment

This study examines how the current employment situation (increased instances of precarious employment) affects young adults’ connection to the workforce, work self-efficacy, and their mental health and wellbeing as they transition from school to work

Mental Health Services on Campus

This project analyzed a number of online Reddit posts regarding the mental health and wellbeing of university students. Topics include student perceptions on the responsibilities of post-secondary institutions regarding student mental health, student culture, and problems regarding mental health services on campuses

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International Mental Health Project

Through international partnerships (with collaborators in Sweden, Germany, and South Africa), the mental health and wellbeing of post-secondary students attending different institutions around the world is being examined and compared.

 

Lab Members

 

Dr. Maureen Drysdale

Professor of Psychology and Lab Director

Dr. Maureen Drysdale is a Psychology professor at St. Jerome’s University and cross-appointed professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo. Her research involves the many factors that impact academic achievement and the subsequent transition to and success in work after graduation. This includes examining the skill acquisitions, mental health, and overall wellbeing of students in post-secondary education as well as under-represented secondary school students preparing for full-time employment. A primary focus has been on examining the attitudes and behaviours that are believed to be important for successful school-to-work transitions. This include self-concept, self-efficacy, hope, study skills, work ethic, career identity & certainty, motivation, sense of belonging, peer support, social support, anxiety, depression, and other mental health and wellbeing constructs. A second focus is examining the role of cooperative and work-integrated education on school-to-work transitions.

Research Collaborators

Dr. Tessa Berg

Assistant Professor

Heriot-Watt University, Scotland

Project: International Gender Study

Recent Publications

Journal Articles & Reports

 

Motivation, Self-efficacy, and learning strategies of students participating in work-integrated learning

This study examined differences in the psychological constructs of motivation, academic self-efficacy, and learning strategies between higher education students who participated in a work-integrated learning (WIL) programme and those who did not. Undergraduate WIL (n = 1048) and non-WIL (n = 656) students in all years of study and from several academic faculties, completed the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ), which measures the constructs of motivation, academic self-efficacy and use of learning and study strategies. Results revealed that students who do not gain practical work experience while pursuing their studies have lower grade-point averages, are more likely to use shallow learning strategies, and are more extrinsically motivated compared to students who do gain work experience through a WIL programme.


Citation: Drysdale, M. T. B., McBeath, M. (2018). Motivation, Self-efficacy, and learning strategies of students participating in work-integrated learning. Journal of Education and Work. 1-11

Work-integrated learning and the importance of peer support and sense of belonging

This study explored the relationship between peer support and sense of belonging on mental health and overall well-being, with a specific focus on comparing the perceptions of students in a work-integrated learning (WIL) program to those in a traditional non-WIL program. Semi-structured group interviews were conducted with students from a university with a WIL program. The analysis revealed that peer support and sense of belonging were essential protective factors for university student’s mental health and well-being, particularly during off-campus work terms or when transitioning to the labor market after graduation. Data suggested that participating in a WIL program can exacerbate students’ perceived barriers to accessing peer support resources and, in turn, lead to poor mental health.


Citation: McBeath, M., Drysdale, M. T., & Bohn, N. (2018). Work-integrated learning and the importance of peer support and sense of belonging. Education+ Training, 60(1), 39-53.

 Work-integrated Learning in the 21st Century: Global Perspectives on the Future (2017)

Work-Integrated Learning in the 21st century: Global perspectives on the future, explores new questions about the state of work for new university and college graduates in the context of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL).

Bowen, T. & Drysdale, M. T. B. (Eds.), (2017). Work-integrated Learning in the 21st Century: Global Perspectives on the Future, (14 chapters). International Perspectives on Education and Society Series, V32. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing Limited (216 pages).

Learning attributes, academic self-efficacy, and sense of belonging amongst mature students at a Canadian University (2017)

This study investigated learning attributes, academic self-efficacy and sense of belonging of mature adult students in higher education. Mature and traditional age students were compared on their motivation and learning strategies, test anxiety, academic self-efficacy and sense of belonging.

Citation: Erb, S. & Drysdale, M. T. B. (2017). Learning attributes, academic self-efficacy, and sense of belonging amongst mature students at a Canadian University. Studies in the Education of Adults. 49(1), 62-74.

News & Resources

We’ve been fortunate on many occasions to have our research published by the media in the press. If you’d like to stay up to date regarding our latest research projects, be entertained by stories about the research life, or get access to our informative resources, make sure you get in touch today.

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Profile of Dr. Maureen Drysdale

A  profile of Dr. Maureen Drysdale and the research being done in the Well-Link lab was featured in the St.Jerome's Update Magazine.

Student Mental Health & Wellness @ uWaterloo

The University of Waterloo's President's Advisory Committe for Student Mental Health released their final report and 36 recommendations. Lab director, Dr. Drysdale and Lab Manager, Margaret McBeath were members of this committee and contributed to the report.

How do we produce work-ready, world-ready graduates?

Mental health is one of the most pressing issues on campus and in the labour force. Maureen Drysdale and Tracey Bowen discuss how carefully-implemented work-integrated learning programmes can support students during the critical school-to-work transition and set them up for the world beyond university.

 

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