Children’s and Adolescents’ Conceptions of Happiness at School and Its Relation with Their Own Happiness and Their Academic Performance

Abstract

Previous research on children’s and adolescents’ well-being at school has been focused on the possible determinants. However, no previous research has analysed children’s and adolescents’ lay-beliefs or conceptualizations of happiness at school. In the present work, we studied children’s (N = 104, 9–10-year-olds) and adolescents’ (N = 113, 15–16-year-olds) conceptualizations of happiness at school and its link with self-reported happiness (assessed 3 months later) and academic achievement (assessed 7 months later). For both samples, seven conceptualizations emerged: happiness as ‘being with friends’, ‘being praised’, ‘getting good grades’, ‘learning’, ‘leisure’, ‘enjoyment’, and ‘helping’. Age differences appeared for the conceptualizations of ‘being friends’ and ‘helping’, as children mentioned significantly more the former and adolescents the latter. No gender differences emerged. For adolescents, the conceptualizations of happiness at school as ‘being with friends’, ‘being praised’, ‘helping’, and not ‘having leisure time’ were positively related to self-reported happiness, which was positively related to academic achievement. For children, none of the conceptualizations were positively related to self-reported happiness. The conceptualization of happiness as ‘learning’ was positively related to academic achievement. The results are discussed in regards to their implications for children’s and adolescents’ well-being at school.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    There were no differences between children who took part in the study and those who did not participate in terms of age (t(450) = .10, p = .92, Cohen’s d = 0.009, 95% CI [−.60, .54]), academic achievement (t(450) = .76, p = .45, Cohen’s d = 0.06, 95% CI [−.43, .19]), and gender (χ2 = 4.39, p = .11, Cramer’s V = .10).

  2. 2.

    RMSEA is considered acceptable at values lower than 0.06 and SRMR with values lower than 0.08 (Hu and Bentler 1999). CFI and GFI are considered to give evidence of acceptable fit at values over a .90 threshold (Bentler and Bonett 1980), and excellent fit at .95 (Hu and Bentler 1999).

  3. 3.

    Significant association between ‘being with friends’ and ‘being praised’ (\(X^{2} = 6.21,\) p<.05, Contingency Coefficient (CC) = .22), between ‘being praised’ and ‘leisure’ (\(X^{2} = 5.55,\) p<.05, CC = .22) and between ‘helping’ and ‘leisure’ (\(X^{2} = 5.88,\) p<.05, CC = .22).

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Correspondence to Belén López-Pérez.

Appendix

Appendix

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Table 7 Coding system

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López-Pérez, B., Fernández-Castilla, B. Children’s and Adolescents’ Conceptions of Happiness at School and Its Relation with Their Own Happiness and Their Academic Performance. J Happiness Stud 19, 1811–1830 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-017-9895-5

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Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Conceptualizations
  • Children
  • Adolescents
  • School
  • Academic achievement