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The experience of peer support has strengthened among the students of the School of Engineering - thanks to the guilds, tutors and the entire student community!

The results of the spring 2023 AllWell? questionnaire show that the experience of community has enhanced among the students of the School of Engineering. The school's responsible study psychologist Sanni Saarimäki reflects on the importance of peer support in student wellbeing in an interview.
Let's Lean Together

The results of the spring 2023 AllWell? wellbeing questionnaire show that the experience of peer support has strengthened throughout Aalto University as well as among the students of the School of Engineering. 67% of the students who responded to the survey felt that they belonged to a study-related group, which is a significant increase compared to the previous year's results. In 2022, only 56% of bachelor's students and only 53% of master's students felt the same sense of belonging.

The (digital) pedagogical specialists of the School of Engineering – Karoliina Pakkanen and Heidy Tiits-Tikkanen  –interviewed Sanni Saarimäki, the responsible study psychologist, about the role of peer support in student life.

What kind of role does the student community play in the students' wellbeing?

Belonging to the student community has been recognised to be one of the most important factors in predicting how successful you will be in your studies, and it also has a positive effect on the probability that you will graduate on time. Learning and studying is often much easier - and more enjoyable - when it happens together with others in a safe and relaxed atmosphere than when just working by yourself. The experience of belonging is also connected to how interesting the studies are perceived; not to mention how important the community is in finding a professional identity and growing to a future engineer.

What can you do if you haven't found your own group yet or you notice that someone else has been left out?

If you haven't found your own group yet, you could, for example, reach out to your own guild, tutor or check out the AYY clubs. Also Starting Point of Wellbeing organizes a variety of easily accessible activities and support. Even though the experience of belonging to the community has strengthened, there is still work to be done in welcoming those who don't feel like they belong yet. The individual's own activeness in finding a group is important, but responsibility cannot simply be pushed onto a lonely or otherwise excluded person. We should find ways to take into account and welcome those who wish to join the community even after the freshman autumn.

What can we learn from these promising AllWell? results?

The aftermath of the pandemic will probably be solved for years to come, but now it is essential to stop and think about what had such a strong impact on improving the sense of belonging this year. I don't think just returning to the campus magically changed the direction, but really the guilds, tutors and student community, as well as the ENG staff, worked hard to reach this positive development. I encourage us all to stop and notice what has been done and consciously continue with the good practices and develop them further.

The credit for boosting the experience of peer support at the school goes especially to our goal-oriented and courageous guilds and to the active students, such as tutors. The entire student community of the School of Engineering has also been part of building this experience - so a big thank you to every student, it's motivating to continue the work from here!

Further information: 

Sanni Saarimäki, responsible study psychologist at the School of Engineering ([email protected])

AllWell?

The AllWell? student survey

The AllWell? student survey is sent to all Aalto’s 2nd year bachelor's and 1st year master's students every year.

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The Starting Point of Wellbeing offers students easy access to counselling and advice on matters of well-being and study ability. The services available to you include drop-in (no reservation) advising/counselling sessions, peer support groups, and online materials. You can also make an appointment to receive individual counselling.

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