Trauma-informed Teaching Strategies

Trauma Informed Teaching

A significant number of college-age students have experienced some type of trauma in their lives, ranging from family conflict to abuse, neglect, displacement, and violence. The current transition to varied learning formats (including face-to-face, hybrid, and online) represents another trauma. Traumatized students, who are grieving the loss of in-person experiences and familiar routines, may find it difficult to balance the psychological impact with their schoolwork. 

Teaching strategies that take into account the role of trauma have the potential to foster connection, increase emotional balance, and improve resilience. For students who are experiencing extreme psychological distress, be sure to refer them to the support resources offered by Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS). CPS is also available to faculty for consultation.


In the News: Trauma-informed Teaching Strategies

Coping with a Pandemic, Inside Higher Ed (March 2020)

What Trauma Looks Like in College-Aged Students and Adult Learners, Source for Help, Advancement, and Renewal for Educators (2020)


Scholarly Articles

Anderson, E. M., Blitz, L. V., & Saastamoinen, M. (2015). Exploring a School-University Model for Professional Development with Classroom Staff: Teaching Trauma-Informed Approaches. School Community Journal, 25(2), 113–134. 

Becker, M. A. S., Roberts, S. F. N., Ritts, S. M., Branagan, W. T., Warner, A. R., & Clark, S. L. (2017). Supporting transgender college students: Implications for clinical intervention and campus prevention. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 31(2), 155–176. 

Brunzell, T., Stokes, H., & Waters, L. (2019). Shifting Teacher Practice in Trauma-Affected Classrooms: Practice Pedagogy Strategies within a Trauma-Informed Positive Education Model. School Mental Health, 11(3), 600–614. 

Boyraz, G., Horne, S. G., Owens, A. C., & Armstrong, A. P. (2013). Academic achievement and college persistence of African American students with trauma exposure. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60(4), 582–592. 

Dessoff, A. (2011). Supporting international students from countries dealing with trauma. International Educator, 20(2), 52–55 

Galatzer-Levy, I. R., Burton, C. L., & Bonanno, G. A. (2012). Coping flexibility, potentially traumatic life events, and resilience: A prospective study of college student adjustment. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 31(6), 542–567. 

Griffin, K. A., & Gilbert, C. K. (2015). Better transitions for troops: An application of Schlossberg’s transition framework to analyses of barriers and institutional support structures for student veterans. Journal of Higher Education, 86(1), 71–97.  

Kuhl, M., & Boyraz, G. (2017). Mindfulness, general trust, and social support among trauma-exposed college students. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 22(2), 150–162.  

Smyth, J. M., Hockemeyer, J. R., Heron, K. E., Wonderlich, S. A., & Pennebaker, J.W. (2008). Prevalence, type, disclosure, and severity of adverse life events in college students. Journal of American College Health, 57(1), 69–76.  


Additional Resources

Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Trauma-informed practices for postsecondary education: A Guide

Trauma-Informed Teaching & Learning in Times of Crisis (video)