Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 8, pp 2507–2523 | Cite as

Teachers Matter: Student Outcomes Following a Strengths Intervention are Mediated by Teacher Strengths Spotting

  • Denise Quinlan
  • Dianne A. Vella-Brodrick
  • Andrew Gray
  • Nicola SwainEmail author
Research Paper


There is increasing interest in students well-being at school. One useful approach to improving school well-being is adopting strengths-based programmes. Many studies use teachers to deliver strengths programmes. However, little is known about how teachers influence the success of these interventions. This possible mediating effect of teachers forms the focus of the present analysis. Ten teachers and their classrooms participated in the study, seven in the intervention group and three in the control group, as part of a larger study. The intervention was delivered by a trained facilitator over 6 weeks and the teachers acted as support during these sessions encouragement to continue between sessions. The strengths intervention was associated with several improved student outcomes. Models showed that the student outcomes that were mediated by changes in teacher strengths spotting were: positive affect, classroom engagement, and need satisfaction (autonomy, competence and relatedness). Student negative affect and strengths use were not mediated by teacher strengths spotting. This finding suggests that programme effectiveness is influenced by contextual variables such as teacher behaviour and attitudes to strengths. Future school programmes might consider the influence of the people who deliver strength intervention programmes—whoever they might be.


Strengths intervention Teacher influence Strengths spotting Mediation Contextual variables Well-being Positive psychology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and ResilienceDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Centre for Positive Psychology, Graduate School of EducationUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of MedicineUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  4. 4.Department of Psychological Medicine, Dunedin School of MedicineUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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