Academic Characteristics of Early Adolescents with Higher Levels of Life Satisfaction

Abstract

Research related to students’ global life satisfaction and their academic and behavioral functioning has yielded varying findings. Some researchers have suggested the possibility that very high levels of life satisfaction may yield decrements in productivity (Oishi et al. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 346–360 2007). Middle school students (N = 917) were surveyed regarding their global life satisfaction, school engagement, and academic performance. We evaluated whether the associations were best characterized linearly or non-linearly (i.e., quadratic) to clarify the associations between life satisfaction and the various academic performance variables. Differing from the findings of Oishi et al., our findings failed to reveal support for the hypothesis of a negative quadratic relation between life satisfaction and most of the academic or student engagement outcomes we examined. To the contrary, statistically significant, positive linear relations were observed between life satisfaction and GPA, math standardized test scores as well as cognitive, emotional and behavioral engagement. A linear relation was not observed between life satisfaction and English Language Arts standardized test scores. Consistent with previous research, these findings provide further support that higher levels of life satisfaction are related to higher levels of student engagement and academic performance in early adolescents. Furthermore, the results are consistent with efforts to expand education reforms to incorporate goals related to increasing students’ well-being as well as their academic success.

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Correspondence to Michael D. Lyons.

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Lyons, M.D., Huebner, E.S. Academic Characteristics of Early Adolescents with Higher Levels of Life Satisfaction. Applied Research Quality Life 11, 757–771 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-015-9394-y

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Keywords

  • Life satisfaction
  • Academic performance
  • Student engagement
  • Adolescence