Advertisement

Positive Education in Australia: Practice, Measurement, and Future Directions

  • Gavin R. SlempEmail author
  • Tan-Chyuan Chin
  • Margaret L. Kern
  • Christine Siokou
  • Daniel Loton
  • Lindsay G. Oades
  • Dianne Vella-Brodrick
  • Lea Waters

Abstract

Positive education (PosEd) combines the concepts and scholarship of positive psychology (PP) with best practice guidelines from education to promote student flourishing within educational settings. In this chapter, we first review the conceptual approaches to well-being upon which much of PosEd in Australia is based. Second, based on our experiences with research, teaching, and consulting, we identify issues that might impact the successful implementation of PosEd, including the frameworks used, the extent to which implicit or explicit strategies are employed, the importance of sustained and rigorous evaluation, and the impact of student, teacher, and other stakeholder buy-in. Third, we illustrate our own research that addresses some of these challenges, including the development of measurement tools to profile well-being and the undertaking of longitudinal studies evaluating PosEd programs. We then consider areas of future inquiry and practice that are particularly relevant to the Australian context, including (1) the need for research and applications to expand to diverse populations, such as Indigenous Australians, migrants, refugees, at-risk students, and disadvantaged groups, (2) systems approaches to implementation and research, and (3) strategies to produce and evaluate lasting change. We conclude that there is much potential for PosEd in Australia, but care needs to be taken so that it becomes a core part of education as a whole, and not simply a short-lived fad.

Keywords

Positive education Positive psychology Well-being Skills Development Young people Intervention Program 

References

  1. Allen, K.-A., Kern, M. L., Vella-Brodrick, D., & Water, L. (2016). Understanding a school’s priorities through analysis of their mission and vision statements. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). Causes of death, Australia, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0~2013~Main%20Features~Suicide%20by%20Age~10010
  3. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2013). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/pdf/overview
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2011). Young Australians: Their health and wellbeing 2011. Cat. no. PHE 140 Canberra: AIHW.Google Scholar
  5. Boehm, J. K., Lyubomirsky, S., & Sheldon, K. M. (2011). A longitudinal experimental study comparing the effectiveness of happiness-enhancing strategies in Anglo Americans and Asian Americans. Cognition and Emotion, 25, 1263–1272.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Bond, L., & Butler, H. (2009). The gatehouse project: A multi-level integrated approach to promoting well-being in schools. In A. Killoran & M. Kelly (Eds.), Evidence-based public health: Effectiveness and efficiency (pp. 250–269). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bond, L., Patton, G., Glover, S., Carlin, J. B., Butler, H., Thomas, L., et al. (2004). The gatehouse project: Can a multilevel school intervention affect emotional well-being and health risk behaviours? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 58, 997–1003.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Brunzell, T., Stokes, H., & Waters, L. (2016). Trauma-informed positive education: Using positive psychology to strengthen vulnerable students. Contemporary School Psychology, 20, 63–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brunzell, T., Waters, L., & Stokes, H. (2015). Teaching with strengths in trauma-affected students: A new approach to healing and growth in the classroom. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85, 3–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Butler, H., Krelle, A., Seal, I., Drew, S., & Trafford, L. (2011). The critical friend: Facilitating change and well-being in school communities. Victoria, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  11. Carr, E. G., Dunlap, G., Horner, R. H., Koegel, R. L., Turnbull, A. P., Sailor, W. … Fox, L. (2002). Positive behavior support: Evolution of an applied science. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 4, 4–16.Google Scholar
  12. Chin, T.-C. (in press). Keeping up with the times: A considered approach to measuring youth well-being. In M. White, G. R., Slemp, & S. Murray (Eds.), Future directions in well-being: Education, organizations, and policy. Adelaide, Australia: SPC Press.Google Scholar
  13. Chin, T.-C., Jiang, J., Rickard, N. S., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (in preparation). A systematic review of well-being measures for young people.Google Scholar
  14. Chin, T.-C., Jiang, J., Rickard, N. S., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2016a). A systematic review of well-being measures for young people. Unpublished manuscript. The University Of Melbourne, VIC, Australia.Google Scholar
  15. Chin, T.-C., Jiang, J., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2016b). A snapshot of well-being: Capturing the voices of young people in Maroondah. Unpublished manuscript. The University Of Melbourne, VIC, Australia.Google Scholar
  16. Chin, T.-C., Jiang, J., Waters, L., Kern, M., Slemp, G. R., Oades, L., et al. (2016c). Measuring youth well-being using the well-being profiler: Science background. The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Retrieved from: www.wbprofiler.com/profile_well-being/science_background
  17. Chin, T.-C., Waters, L. E., & Joyce, T. (2015). Using the well-being profiler for schools. International Positive Psychology Association World Congress. Orlando, FL. (Sunday, 28th June).Google Scholar
  18. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2005). Safe and sound: An educational leader’s guide to evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) Programs. Chicago, IL: Author.Google Scholar
  19. Currie, C., Zanotti, C., Morgan, A., Currie, D., de Looze, M., Roberts, C. … Barnekow, V. (Eds.). (2012). Social determinants of health and well-being among young people. Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: International report from the 2009/2010 survey. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, (Health Policy for Children and Adolescents, No. 6).Google Scholar
  20. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Hedonia, eudaimonia, and well-being: An introduction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Delle Fave, A., Brdar, I., Freire, T., Vella-Brodrick, D., & Wissing, M. (2011). The eudaimonic and hedonic components of happiness: Qualitative and quantitative findings. Social Indicators Research, 100, 185–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Diener, E., Lucas, R. E., & Scollon, C. N. (2006). Beyond the hedonic treadmill: Revising the adaptation theory of well-being. American Psychologist, 61, 305–314.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Durlak, J. A., Domitrovich, C. E., Weissberg, R. P., & Gullotta, T. P. (2015). Handbook of social and emotional learning: Research and practice (Eds.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  24. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child Development, 82, 405–432.Google Scholar
  25. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.    Google Scholar
  26. Faulkner, M. (2007). School psychologists or psychologists in schools? InPsych: The Bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society Ltd, 29(4), 10–13.Google Scholar
  27. Forgeard, M. J. C., Jayawickreme, E., Kern, M. L., & Seligman, M. E. (2011). Doing the right thing: Measuring well-being for public policy. International Journal of Well-being, 1, 79–106.Google Scholar
  28. Foster-Fishman, P. G., Nowell, B., & Yang, H. (2007). Putting the system back into systems change: A framework for understanding and changing organizational and community systems. American Journal of Community Psychology, 39, 197–215.Google Scholar
  29. Green, S., Oades, L., & Robinson, P. (2011). Positive education: Creating flourishing students, staff and schools. InPysch, 16–17, (April).Google Scholar
  30. Greenberg, M. T., Weissberg, R. P., O’Brien, M. U., Zins, J. E., Fredericks, L., Resnik, H., et al. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist, 58, 466–474.Google Scholar
  31. Henderson, L. W., & Knight, T. (2012). Integrating the hedonic and eudaimonic perspectives to more comprehensively understand well-being and pathways to well-being. International Journal of Well-being, 2, 196–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Huitt, W. (2011). A holistic view of education and schooling: Guiding students to develop capacities, acquire virtues, and provide service. Revision of paper presented at the 12th Annual International Conference sponsored by the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), May 24–27, Athens, Greece. Retrieved from: http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/papers/holistic-view-of-schooling-rev.pdf
  33. Huppert, F. A., & So, T. T. C. (2013). Flourishing across Europe: Application of a new conceptual framework for defining well-being. Social Indicators Research, 110, 837–861.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Incheon Declaration (2015) Education 2030: Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all. Retrieved from http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/education_2030_incheon_declaration_en.pdf
  35. Jennings, P. A., Frank, J. L., Snowberg, K. E., Coccia, M. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2013). Improving classroom learning environments by cultivating awareness and resilience in education (CARE): Results of a randomized controlled trial. School Psychology Quarterly, 28, 374–390.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Kern, M. L., Benson, L., Steinberg, E. A., & Steinberg, L. (2016). The EPOCH measure of adolescent well-being. Psychological Assessment, 28, 586–597.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Kern, M. L., Waters, L., Adler, A., & White, M. (2015a). A multifaceted approach to measuring wellbeing in students: Application of the PERMA framework. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10, 262–271. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2014.936962
  38. Kern, M. L., Waters, L. E., & Slemp, G. S. (2015b). Key levers to change: A systems approach to positive education. International Positive Psychology Association World Congress. Orlando, FL. (Saturday 27th June).Google Scholar
  39. Kern, M. L., Waters, L., White, M., & Adler, A. (2014). Assessing employee wellbeing in schools using a multifaceted approach: Associations with physical health, life satisfaction, and professional thriving. Psychology, 5, 500–513. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/psych.2014.56060
  40. Kessler, R. C., Angermeyer, M., Anthony, J. C., De Graaf, R., Demyttenaere, K., Gasquet, I. … Haro, J. M. (2007). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of mental disorders in the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative. World Psychiatry, 6, 168–176.Google Scholar
  41. Keyes, C. L. (2007). Promoting and protecting mental health as flourishing: A complementary strategy for improving national mental health. American Psychologist, 62, 95–108.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Kristjánsson, K. (2012). Positive psychology and positive education: Old wine in new bottles? Educational Psychologist, 47, 86–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kumkale, G. C., & Albarracín, D. (2004). The sleeper effect in Persuasion: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 143–172.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. Lawrence, D., Johnson, S., Hafekost, J., Boterhoven de Haan, K., Sawyer, M., Ainley, J., et al. (2015). The mental health of children and adolescents: Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent survey of mental health and well-being. Canberra: Department of Health.Google Scholar
  45. Layous, K., Lee, H., Choi, I., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). Culture matters when designing a successful happiness-enhancing strategy: A comparison of the United States and South Korea. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44, 1294–1303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lerner, J. V., Phelps, E., Forman, Y., & Bowers, E. P. (2009). Positive youth development. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.) Handbook of adolescent psychology: Individual bases of adolescent development (3rd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 524–585). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  47. Lopez, S. J. (2013). Making hope happen: Create the future you want for yourself and others. New York, NY: ATRIA.Google Scholar
  48. Lopez, S. J., Rose, S., Robinson, C., Marques, S. C., & Rais-Ribeiro, J. (2009). Measuring and promoting hope in school children. In M. J. Furlong, R. Gilman, & E. S. Huebner (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in schools (pp. 37–50). New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111–131.Google Scholar
  50. Marques, S. C., Lopez, S. J., & Pais-Ribeiro, J. L. (2011). Building hope for the future: A program to foster strengths in middle-school students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, 39–152.Google Scholar
  51. McNulty, J. K., & Fincham, F. D. (2012). Beyond positive psychology? Toward a contextual view of psychological processes and well-being. American Psychologist, 67, 101–110.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Meadows, D. H., & Wright, D. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer. VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.Google Scholar
  53. Noble, T., & McGrath, H. (2015). PROSPER: A new framework for positive education. Psychology of Well-being, 5(2), 1.Google Scholar
  54. Norrish, J. M. (2015). Positive education: The Geelong Grammar School journey. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Norrish, J. M., Williams, P., O’Connor, M., & Robinson, J. (2013). An applied framework for positive education. International Journal of Well-being, 3, 147–161.Google Scholar
  56. Parks, A. C., & Schueller, S. M. (2014). The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of positive psychological interventions. Chichester, UK: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Patton, G. C., Bond, L., Carlin, J. B., Thomas, L., Butler, H., Glover, S., et al. (2006). Promoting social inclusion in schools: A group-randomized trial of effects on student health risk behavior and well-being. American Journal of Public Health, 96, 1582–1587.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  58. Patton, G. C., Sawyer, S. M., Santelli, J. S., Ross, D. A., Afifi, R., Allen, N. A. … Viner, R. M. (2016). Our future: A lancet commission on adolescent health and well-being. The Lancet, 387, 2423–2478.Google Scholar
  59. Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Larsen, R., & Baroody, A. (2014). Efficacy of the responsive classroom approach: Results from a three year, longitudinal randomized control trial. American Educational Research Journal, 51, 567–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Roeser, R. W., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Jha, A., Cullen, M., Wallace, L., Wilensky, R. … Harrison, J. (2013). Mindfulness training and reductions in teacher stress and burnout: Results from two randomized, waitlist-control field trials. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 787–804.Google Scholar
  61. Rusk, R. D., & Waters, L. (2015). A psycho-social system approach to well-being: Empirically deriving the five domains of positive functioning. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10, 141–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Schonfeld, D. J., Adams, R. E., Fredstrom, B. K., Weissberg, R. P., Gilman, R., Voyce, C. … Speese-Linehan, D. (2015). Cluster-randomized trial demonstrating impact on academic achievement of elementary social-emotional learning. School Psychology Quarterly, 30, 406–420.Google Scholar
  64. Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish. New York, NY: Free Press.Google Scholar
  65. Seligman, M. E. P., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35, 293–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421.Google Scholar
  67. Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 249–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83–110.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Sugai, G., & Horner, R. (2002). The evolution of discipline practices: School-wide positive behavior supports. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 24, 1–2, 23–50. doi: 10.1300/J019v24n01_03Sugai
  70. Sugai, G., Horner, R. H., Dunlap, G., Hieneman, M., Lewis, T. J., Nelson, C. M. … & Ruef, M. (2000). Applying positive behavioral support and functional behavioral assessment in schools. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 2, 131–143.Google Scholar
  71. Tolan, P. H., Nichols, E., & DuVal, N. (2015). SEL programs for juvenile justice settings and populations. In J. A. Durlak, C. E. Domitrovich, R. P. Weissberg, & T. P. Gullotta (Eds.), Handbook of social and emotional learning: Research and practice (pp. 267–281). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  72. Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (in press). Positive interventions that erode the hedonic and eudaimonic divide to promote lasting happiness. In J. Vittersø (Ed.), Handbook of eudaimonic wellbeing. Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  73. Vella-Brodrick, D. A., Rickard, N. S., & Chin, T.-C. (2014, August). An evaluation of positive education at Geelong Grammar School: A snapshot of 2013. The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia.Google Scholar
  74. Vella-Brodrick, D. A., Rickard, N. S., Hattie, J., Cross, D., & Chin, T.-C. (2015). An evaluation of year 10 positive education at Geelong Grammar School: Findings from 2014. VIC, Australia: The University of Melbourne.Google Scholar
  75. Waters, L. E. (2011). A review of school-based positive psychology interventions. The Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 28, 75–90.Google Scholar
  76. Waters, L., & Stokes, H. (2013). A system wide approach to positive education. Teacher Learning Network Journal, 20, 8–9.Google Scholar
  77. Waters, L., & White, M. (2015). Case study of a school well-being initiative: Using appreciative inquiry to support positive change. International Journal of Well-being, 5, 19–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. White, M. A. (2016). Why won’t it stick? Positive psychology and positive education (p. 6). Psychology of Well-being: Theory, Research, & Practice.Google Scholar
  79. Wiley, A. L., & Siperstein, G. N. (2015). SEL for students with high-incidence disabilities. In J. A. Durlak, C. E. Domitrovich, R. P. Weissberg, & T. P. Gullotta (Eds.), Handbook of social and emotional learning: Research and practice (pp. 213–228). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  80. Williams, B., & van’t Hof, S. (2016). Wicked solutions: A systems approach to complex problems. Lulu.com
  81. World Health Organization. (2015, December). Global burden of mental disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level. Report by the Secretariat.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gavin R. Slemp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tan-Chyuan Chin
    • 1
  • Margaret L. Kern
    • 1
  • Christine Siokou
    • 1
  • Daniel Loton
    • 1
  • Lindsay G. Oades
    • 1
  • Dianne Vella-Brodrick
    • 1
  • Lea Waters
    • 1
  1. 1.Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Centre for Positive PsychologyUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations