Nurturing Positivity

Nurturing Positivity: Interventions to Enhance Students’ Well-Being and Learning

What is Nurturing Positivity? (3:18)

  • Relative to self-discovery activities of Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) lessons, the Gratitude Positive Psychological Intervention (PPI) generated a greater increase in students’ life satisfaction and reduction in self-reported depressive symptoms

  • Relative to CCE lessons, the Hope PPI was found to be more effective in preventing the worsening of students’ self-reported depressive symptoms, and increasing the use of deep and elaborative learning strategies

Pioneered by Martin Seligman in the late 1990s, positive psychology is a movement within psychology that focuses on understanding and promoting well-being and examining factors that lead to optimal human functioning. Research shows that increasing students’ well-being can lead to improvements in their learning.

In a Singapore-based study, the principles of positive psychology were applied in developing three PPI packages, which focused on Gratitude, Hope, and Strengths. The application of two PPIs, Gratitude and Hope, has yielded promising results with students in the Normal Academic and Technical streams, while the Strengths PPI is still in the process of development. The results of the study indicate that the Gratitude and Hope PPIs are potentially effective in cultivating students’ positive emotions and well-being, and promoting students’ intrinsic motivation to study and their use of productive learning strategies.

The nurturing of positivity in the classroom therefore carries tremendous potential benefits for students in terms of both academic and non-academic outcomes. Combining the two PPIs offers a longer immersion of the students to positive psychology experiences that can potentially compound the PPIs’ positive effects. However, it needs to be emphasized that the positive effects of the PPIs, as the results of the study suggest, may take some time to manifest.

The Gratitude and Hope interventions are premised on Barbara Fredrickson’s (1998, 2001) broaden and build framework.

The theory specifies different functional roles for positive and negative emotions. Negative emotions, such as sadness or anxiety, are thought to narrow an individual's perception of events, thereby limiting how one thinks and responds to the events.

On the other hand, positive emotions are expected to broaden a person's mindset towards events, which favours the expansion of how one thinks and behaves in response to the events. The broadened mindset, in turn, enables the building of one’s physical, intellectual, and social resources.

  • After completing the Gratitude PPI, the students wrote comments that affirm the effectiveness of the PPI.

    • I learn to be more thankful and appreciative.

    • I had/need to be thankful and appreciative.

    • I feel so happy.

    • I think all these activities could make us appreciate more of what we had.

    • I am really thankful for the school doing this thank you card and all, I have really never thanked (a person) properly before.

    • The thank you letter was the best part. It really made me think well of my parents. I don't get to spend much time with them as I'm always in my room and they're always at work.

    • The group work gave us bonding moments. We worked as a team to present something good.

    • [I]t makes us realize that there is more to life and that we should start to appreciate whatever we have before regretting if we lost them.

  • After completing the Hope PPI, the participating students wrote comments that further attest to the benefits of the PPI.

    • All the activities were fun to do and (we were) able to understand hope in ourselves.

    • It is meaningful and also helpful for students.

    • I think doing these activities is really fun, writing about our goals and goals that we have already achieved.

    • From these activities, I have learned a lot and I will work hard to achieve my goal.

    • I'm sure it will help me. It reminds me not to give up my goals.

    • It was fun and relaxing.

The present study is one of the few studies that provide some empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of PPIs among local students and the capability of local teachers to implement PPIs in a classroom setting.

Teachers may adopt the PPIS as stand-alone activities during CCE classes, as was done in this study, or integrate the PPIs into their classroom lessons.

Latest in the news

On 23rd April 2018, The Straits Times published an article on Dr Imelda S Caleon’s work.

To read all about it, click on: Resilient students see failure as stepping stone: NIE study.

Classroom resources

Sample activity handouts and teaching slides from the Gratitude and Hope packages to nurture positivity in secondary students.

Gratitude
Hope

Fredickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology. American psychologist, 56(3), 218-226.


Sheldon, K. M. & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006) How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1 (2), 73-82.


Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803-855.


Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K.M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111-131.


Seligman, M. E., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford review of education, 35(3), 293-311.

Research projects

The following project is associated with Nurturing Positivity Research:


Question-Icon
Research team

To learn more about Nurturing Positivity, please contact the Principal Investigator Dr Imelda S Caleon at imelda.caleon@nie.edu.sg



    Principal Investigator
  • Dr Imelda S Caleon, Office of Education Research (OER), NIE

    Co-Principal Investigators
  • A/P Gregory Arief D Liem, Psychological Studies (PS), NIE

  • Dr Jennifer Pei-ling Tan, OER, NIE

    Research Assistant:
  • Ms Nur Qamarina Binte Ilham, NIE

This research on Nurturing Positivity was funded by Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) under the Education Research Funding Programme (OER 06/13 RBK) and administered by National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Singapore MOE and NIE.

This knowledge resource was written by Edmund Teo and Tan Giam Hwee.

Research led by
Author
Principal Investigator
Dr Imelda S Caleon
Author
Co-Principal Investigator
A/P Gregory Arief D Liem
Author
Co-Principal Investigator
Dr Jennifer Pei-ling Tan

Researchers above are from NIE

To learn more about Nurturing Positivity, email: imelda.caleon@nie.edu.sg

    Collaborators
  • Dr Tan Chee Soon, NIE

  • Dr Rachel Jane Lam, NIE

  • Ast/P Ronnel B. King, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong

  • Mr Tan Wei Xiong, MOE

What teachers say

“The Gratitude activities are very meaningful for our students….It gives them a chance to reflect and find within themselves reasons to be happy and not always feel bad about their situation and environment."

- Teacher
Participants

305 students from the Normal Academic & Technical Streams

26 teachers

5 secondary schools

Contents

Research led by
Author
Principal Investigator
Dr Imelda S Caleon
Author
Co-Principal Investigator
A/P Gregory Arief D Liem
Author
Co-Principal Investigator
Dr Jennifer Pei-ling Tan

Researchers above are from NIE

To learn more about Nurturing Positivity, email: imelda.caleon@nie.edu.sg

Nurturing Positivity

Nurturing Positivity: Interventions to Enhance Students’ Well-Being and Learning

Question-Icon
How Nurturing Positivity can help your students
  • Relative to self-discovery activities of Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) lessons, the Gratitude Positive Psychological Intervention (PPI) generated a greater increase in students’ life satisfaction and reduction in self-reported depressive symptoms
  • Relative to CCE lessons, the Hope PPI was found to be more effective in preventing the worsening of students’ self-reported depressive symptoms, and increasing the use of deep and elaborative learning strategies
Question-Icon
Why Nurturing Positivity?

Pioneered by Martin Seligman in the late 1990s, positive psychology is a movement within psychology that focuses on understanding and promoting well-being and examining factors that lead to optimal human functioning. Research shows that increasing students’ well-being can lead to improvements in their learning.

In a Singapore-based study, the principles of positive psychology were applied in developing three PPI packages, which focused on Gratitude, Hope, and Strengths. The application of two PPIs, Gratitude and Hope, has yielded promising results with students in the Normal Academic and Technical streams, while the Strengths PPI is still in the process of development. The results of the study indicate that the Gratitude and Hope PPIs are potentially effective in cultivating students’ positive emotions and well-being, and promoting students’ intrinsic motivation to study and their use of productive learning strategies.

The nurturing of positivity in the classroom therefore carries tremendous potential benefits for students in terms of both academic and non-academic outcomes. Combining the two PPIs offers a longer immersion of the students to positive psychology experiences that can potentially compound the PPIs’ positive effects. However, it needs to be emphasized that the positive effects of the PPIs, as the results of the study suggest, may take some time to manifest.

Question-Icon
How does it work?

The Gratitude and Hope interventions are premised on Barbara Fredrickson’s (1998, 2001) broaden and build framework.

The theory specifies different functional roles for positive and negative emotions. Negative emotions, such as sadness or anxiety, are thought to narrow an individual's perception of events, thereby limiting how one thinks and responds to the events.

On the other hand, positive emotions are expected to broaden a person's mindset towards events, which favours the expansion of how one thinks and behaves in response to the events. The broadened mindset, in turn, enables the building of one’s physical, intellectual, and social resources.

Question-Icon
How did students respond?
  • After completing the Gratitude PPI, the students wrote comments that affirm the effectiveness of the PPI.
    • I learn to be more thankful and appreciative.

    • I had/need to be thankful and appreciative.

    • I feel so happy.

    • I think all these activities could make us appreciate more of what we had.

    • I am really thankful for the school doing this thank you card and all, I have really never thanked (a person) properly before.

    • The thank you letter was the best part. It really made me think well of my parents. I don't get to spend much time with them as I'm always in my room and they're always at work.

    • The group work gave us bonding moments. We worked as a team to present something good.

    • [I]t makes us realize that there is more to life and that we should start to appreciate whatever we have before regretting if we lost them.

  • After completing the Hope PPI, the participating students wrote comments that further attest to the benefits of the PPI.
    • All the activities were fun to do and (we were) able to understand hope in ourselves.

    • It is meaningful and also helpful for students.

    • I think doing these activities is really fun, writing about our goals and goals that we have already achieved.

    • From these activities, I have learned a lot and I will work hard to achieve my goal.

    • I'm sure it will help me. It reminds me not to give up my goals.

    • It was fun and relaxing.

Question-Icon
How can teachers get started?

The present study is one of the few studies that provide some empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of PPIs among local students and the capability of local teachers to implement PPIs in a classroom setting.

Teachers may adopt the PPIS as stand-alone activities during CCE classes, as was done in this study, or integrate the PPIs into their classroom lessons.

Question-Icon
Further readings

  • Fredickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology. American psychologist, 56(3), 218-226.

  • Sheldon, K. M. & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006) How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1 (2), 73-82.

  • Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803-855.

  • Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K.M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111-131.

  • Seligman, M. E., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford review of education, 35(3), 293-311.
  • Research projects

    The following project is associated with Nurturing Positivity Research:


    Question-Icon
    Research team

    To learn more about Nurturing Positivity, please contact the Principal Investigator Dr Imelda S Caleon at imelda.caleon@nie.edu.sg



      Principal Investigator
    • Dr Imelda S Caleon, Office of Education Research (OER), NIE
      Co-Principal Investigators
    • A/P Gregory Arief D Liem, Psychological Studies (PS), NIE
    • Dr Jennifer Pei-ling Tan, OER, NIE
      Collaborators
    • Dr Tan Chee Soon, PS, NIE
    • Dr Rachel Jane Lam (formerly of NIE)
    • Ast/P Ronnel B. King, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong
    • Mr Tan Wei Xiong, MOE
      Research Assistant:
    • Ms Nur Qamarina Binte Ilham, NIE

    This research on Nurturing Positivity was funded by Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) under the Education Research Funding Programme (OER 06/13 RBK) and administered by National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Singapore MOE and NIE.

    This knowledge resource was written by Edmund Teo and Tan Giam Hwee.

    What is Nurturing Positivity? (3:18)

    Latest in the news

    On 23rd April 2018, The Straits Times published an article on Dr Imelda S Caleon’s work.

    To read all about it, click on: Resilient students see failure as stepping stone: NIE study.

    Classroom resources

    Sample activity handouts and teaching slides from the Gratitude and Hope packages to nurture positivity in secondary students.

    Gratitude
    Hope
    What teachers say

    “The Gratitude activities are very meaningful for our students….It gives them a chance to reflect and find within themselves reasons to be happy and not always feel bad about their situation and environment."

    - Teacher
    Participants

    305 students from the Normal Academic & Technical Streams

    26 teachers

    5 secondary schools