The role of compassion in higher education practices

Publication Name

Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice


Compassion in higher education is viewed in different ways by educators. In recent years a focus on using compassionate pedagogy and being authentic, compassionate educators has arisen. Often associated with ‘care’, compassion has been labelled at times to be ‘soft’ or even ‘fluffy’ and holding emotion. Rather, we argue – through critically exploring discourses of compassion and care – that by acknowledging higher education has a relational element encompassing purposeful and trusting relationships, interactions can hold more meaning and benefit. This Editorial seeks to position the role of compassion in higher education, challenging how compassion focused pedagogy and research can be incorporated and enacted so it can benefit the future of higher education. We consider compassion in learning and teaching practices and in assessment, looking with hope to the future where we may see educational values lived in and through our teaching practices. Practitioner Notes 1. Compassionate pedagogy promotes human connection, communication and wellbeing and requires consideration by higher education educators as they consider their teaching practices and approaches 2. Students need to experience a compassionate learning environment to enable translation of compassionate behaviour into their future professional practices 3. Communication in higher education is suggested to be the linchpin of compassionate pedagogy 4. Critically considering compassion focused pedagogy and research will produce stronger, more practicable results for peers, colleagues and researchers 5. Genuinely questioning research into the role of compassion in the work of higher educational professionals will enable educators to move forward in our teaching, our assessment practices, and our interactions with colleagues and students.

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