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Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Singapore
Caleon, I. S. (2020). Nurturing positivity: The effects of positive psychology interventions on students with different academic abilities. National Institute of Education (Singapore), Office of Education Research.
This investigation involves two studies that were carried out to augment the extant literature on the effectiveness of teacher-implemented positive psychology interventions (PPIs). The studies sought to provide preliminary evidence on the potential benefits of two PPIs on students with different levels of academic ability, which was based on their academic achievement as they entered secondary school. The student participants in the Express or Normal Academic streams were categorised as the “academically more able” group and those in the Normal Technical stream were categorised as the “academically challenged” group.
Study 1 focused on assessing the impact of the Gratitude PPI while Study 2 zoomed in on the effectiveness of the Hope PPI. The participants in Study 1 were Secondary Three students from the Express (n=63) and NT (n=52) streams in one school. For Study 2, the participants were two classes of Secondary Two students (n=79) from the NA stream in one school and one class of Secondary One students from the NT Stream in another school (n=30). Study 1 followed the quasi-experimental design whereby each of the two classes from the same stream were assigned as the experimental or control group. Study 2 involved the split-plot experimental design whereby students in each class were randomly assigned to the experimental or control group. In each study, all of the participating students were asked to complete the same survey questionnaire a week before, and then one week and four to eight weeks after experiencing the assigned intervention (i.e., Gratitude or Hope PPI) or control activities (i.e., Citizenship and Character Education lessons). The Gratitude PPI was implemented by trained class teachers in five 30-minute sessions over 10 weeks; the Hope PPI was implemented in six 50-minute sessions spread over six weeks. The control activities were implemented at the same time as the pertinent PPI activities.
The results of the study suggest that the effects of the Gratitude and Hope PPIs did not significantly differ across ability groups. Both academically more able and academically challenged students were found to draw benefits from the PPIs in terms of preventing the decrease in positive emotions (i.e., gratitude or hope) and increase in ill-being (i.e., depressive symptoms). The Hope PPI was found to be useful in improving academic outcomes, such as the use of deep learning strategies, and maintaining moderate levels of intrinsic motivation. The Gratitude PPI was found to be effective in promoting positive relationship with teachers and friends; it can also help cultivate school resilience, which is a disposition linked to effectively handling stressors associated with performing school tasks. The students’ written feedback suggests the benefits of the Hope PPI in the social, emotional and cognitive realms. For the Gratitude PPI, the academically more able students showed greater engagement in the activities than the academically challenged students did. For the Hope PPI, the academically challenged students seem to have appreciated and recognised the importance of the hope activities more than the academically more able students did.
Note: Restricted to NIE staff only. Contact author for access to report.
SUG 11/15 ISC
Education Research Funding Programme (ERFP)
Ministry of Education, Singapore
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