08 SES 03 A, School Reforms, Curriculum and Wellbeing
Positive social and emotional wellbeing in students and its impact on cognitive wellbeing and educational development (Varela, Kelcey, Reyes, Gould, & Sklar, 2013), as well as the role of schools in supporting the development of positive wellbeing (Wood & Warin, 2014; Norrish, O’Connor and Robinson, 2013) are increasingly being recognized. Students with higher levels of wellbeing achieve the highest grades, lowest absenteeism after one year (Suldo, Falji, & Theron, 2011), and better health outcomes (Saab, & Klinger, 2010).
For the purpose of this research, the concept of social and emotional wellbeing inspired by the Cooker, Bailey, Stevenson and Joseph (2016) study, describes the positive affects resulting from a strong social relationship and good psychological health. Therefore, in this study, the constructs used to understand social and emotional wellbeing are: positive psychological characteristics - engagement, perseverance, optimism, connectedness with family, friends and teachers, and happiness (Kern, Benson, Steinberg, & Steinberg, 2016); satisfaction with life (self, living environment and school) and the social support appraisals (Malecki & Demaray, 2002).
Research has shown the existence of links between wellbeing and a sense of engagement (Bassi, Steca, Monzni, Greco & Fave, 2014); perseverance, which implies the tenacity to continue with a task or activity (Wagner & Ruch, 2015); optimism, related to the belief that good things will happen in important areas of life, and the sense of hope that the future will be positive (Krok, 2015); connectedness, implying the extent to which individuals feel they have people in their lives (family, friends, teachers) who love, support and value them (Uusitalo-Malmivaara, 2012); and, happiness used specifically to describe a feeling of contentment with life, expressed by positive emotions and experiences such as feeling cheerful, loving life and having fun (Thoilliez, 2011). Therefore, in this research, satisfaction with life will be analysed regarding the degree to which the student is satisfied with who he/she is and has a sense of self-esteem (satisfaction with self); the level of contentment with his/her house, neighbourhood and town (satisfaction with living environment); and the degree to which the student is satisfied with his/her learning environment (satisfaction with school) (Cooker et al., 2016).
In Portugal, where this study has been carried out, the school curriculum should empower students with knowledge, attitudes and values to help them make choices and decisions, appropriate to their health, and physical, social and mental wellbeing, as well as the health and wellbeing of those around them, giving students an active and participatory role in school-based health and wellbeing promotion (Lopes, Ladeiras, & Lima 2015). Currently, the National Curriculum establishes that in order to achieve these goals, health and sexuality education should be a mandatory part of the school curriculum, as a cross-curricular component, included in a more comprehensive area of citizenship education (Decreto-Lei n.º 91/2013 de 10 de julho).
Therefore, positive psychology applied to social and emotional wellbeing (Cooker et al., 2016; Norrish, O’Connor, & Robinson, 2013), and a critical health education approach within the paradigm of health-promoting schools (e.g. Clift & Jensen, 2005; McNamara & Simovska, 2015), were used as a theoretical framework for this study.
Against this background, this study aims to investigate: i) What are the students’ life satisfaction perceptions regarding family, friends, school, living environment and self?;ii) What is the social support perceived by students (from 11 to 17 years old) from the most important network resources (family, peers, teachers and others in general)? Iii) Do any relationships exist regarding students’ life satisfaction, students’ social support and students’ perceptions about their health education practices in the last two years of schooling?
Antunes, C., & Fontaine, A. M. (1995). Diferenças na percepção de apoio social na adolescência: Adaptação do Social Support Appraisals. Cadernos de Consulta Psicológica, 10-11. | Clift, S., & Bruun Jensen, B. (2005). The health promoting school: International advances in theory, evaluation and practice. Copenhagen: Danish University of Education Press. | Cooker, L., Bailey, L., Stevenson, H., & Joseph, S. (2016). Social and Emotional Well-being in IB World Schools (age 3-19) Final Report. Nottingham: School of Education, University of Nottingham. | Kern, M.L., Benson, L., Steinberg, E.A., & Steinberg, L. (2016). The EPOCH Measure of Adolescent WellBeing. Psychol Assess., 28(5), 586-597 | Lopes, I., L. Ladeiras, and R.M. Lima. 2015. Relatório 2014/2015 Programa de Apoio à Promoção e Educação para a Saúde (Report 2014/2015 Health Promotion and Education Support Program). Lisboa: DGE. | Malecki, C. K., & Demaray, M. K. (2002). Measuring perceived social support: Development of the child and adolescent social support scale (CASSS). Psychology in the Schools, 39(1), 1-18. | Marques, S. C., & Pais-Ribeiro, J. L., & Lopez, S. J (2007). Validation of a Portuguese Version of the Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 2, 83- 94. | McNamara, P. M., & Simovska, V. (2015). Schools for health and sustainability: Insights from the past, present and for the future. In V. Simovska & P. M. McNamara (Eds.), Schools for health and sustainability – Theory, research and practice (pp. 3–17). Dordrecht: Springer. | Norrish, J. M. W., P., O’Connor, M., & Robinson, J. (2013). An applied framework for Positive Education. International Journal of Well-being, 3(2), 147-161. | Saab, H., & Klinger, D. (2010). School differences in adolescent health and wellbeing: Findings from the Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study. Social Science & Medicine, 70, 850–858. | Suldo, S., Thalji, A., & Ferron, J. (2011). Longitudinal academic outcomes predicted by early adolescents’ subjective well-being, psychopathology, and mental health status yielded from a dual factor model. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(1), 17-30. | Varela, A. D., Kelcey, J., Reyes, J., Gould, M., & Sklar, J. (2013). Learning and resilience: The crucial role of social and emotional well-being in contexts of adversity. Education Notes. Washington, DC.: World Bank Group. | Wood, P., & Warin, J. (2014). Social and emotional aspects of learning: Complementing, compensating and countering parental practices. British Educational Research Journal, 40(6), 937-951.
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