A profile from the Faculty of Education WELLNESS INITIATIVE: Supporting a Focus on Health and Well-being. This series reveals how our alumni, current students, faculty and staff incorporate wellness during this time of self-isolation and physical distancing.

It was a bustling campus day in the fall of 2019—before the provisional term novel coronavirus had become part of our vocabulary, before physical distancing was ever a concern—we met with Dr. David Slomp in the Science Commons Building. We sought out a quiet corner with a bank of windows that allowed the natural light to provide for a fantastic photo session. At that time we spoke of research, teaching, family, and trips. Now amid COVID-19 isolation, the conversation is by means of email correspondence. Dr. David Slomp is currently Associate Professor of Literacy & Assessment for the Faculty of Education.

Can you define your personal sense of wellness? For me the core of wellness is spiritual.  

How does the spiritual aspect of wellness benefit your life? Especially in difficult times—e.g. this pandemic, my brother’s illness, stress and challenges at work, coming to terms with my own failings—knowing that there is a God who is loving and just, and who promises to turn our hardships to our benefit helps keeps me grounded.  

Being able to see the challenges and struggles of day to day life through the lens of eternity helps to give me perspective.

Can you give an example that reflects how perspective and grounding gained from spiritual practice impacts? As a researcher in the field of educational measurement, this reminder of the need for perspective guides so much of my work and my thinking.  We use tests and other assessments to make inferences about people and their abilities, and to make decisions that often can have high-stakes consequences for their lives.  So much of what we measure through our assessments, however, are exceptionally complex.  Literacy, for example, is made up of an extraordinarily complex set of socially situated knowledge, skills, and dispositions. To get an error-free measure of one’s literate ability is almost impossible.  When we try to assess the development of literate ability in students over time, the complexity expands exponentially because an incredibly complex set of environmental, intrapersonal and cognitive factors impede or support that development.  This enormous complexity undermines the confidence we can have in our inferences and the decisions we make based on them.  

In his living room a clock and wall hanging together serve as a constant reminder about gaining perspective on everyday challenges. Photo courtesy of David Slomp.

About the eye of God and humility. I tell my students, speaking metaphorically, that to truly understand this complexity, one needs the eye of God.  In the absence of that, I tell them we need to be very humble about the decisions we take and the inferences we make from our assessment data.


Related story links to the Faculty of Education Wellness Initiative series:
The Faculty of Education WELLNESS INITIATIVE: Supporting a Focus on Health and Well-Being
Wellness is Stillness: Jane O'Dea (dean emerita)
Wellness is Coping with Stress Through Art and Music: Jenn Pellerin
Wellness During the COVID-19 Experience, PSII, and Staying Connected: Kelsey Shoults
Wellness is Being in the Moment: Kenneth Oppel
Wellness is About Having a Consistent Routine: Alex Funk (BEd '17)
• Wellness is Ranching: Danny Balderson
Coping with COVID-19: Harnessing our Natural Stress Response
Coping with COVID-19: Loneliness


Writer: Darcy Tamayose | Photographer: Rob Olson
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
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