Wellness Techniques Effective In Increasing Students Wellbeing Education Essay

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In a non equivalent pretest-posttest control group experiment, participants in the experimental group were subjected to wellness techniques such as savouring, sharing of savoured moments in class, gratitude journal writing, cognitive distraction with the use of humor, and story problem solving activities. Control group received no inclusion of wellness techniques in their regular class discussion. The results showed that there were no significant differences between the control and experimental group across Hope, Life Satisfaction and Depression scores. Other findings showed that males tend to prefer a combination of cognitive distraction and savouring techniques, while females tend to prefer a combination of savouring, gratitude and problem solving and goal setting techniques. Results suggest a focused wellness technique and some considerations regarding personal, environmental or school related factors that might confound the results of the experiment.

Hassles and stress are inevitable for a graduating college student. Accomplishments of too many requirements as well as attending to other school-related activities are tension accumulating. Student's resilience is tested, wherein coping and hardiness serves as resources to back them up during times of sleepless nights and pressured school requirements.

Several years since the positive psychology addressed the need to provide and maintain positive institutions that will provide and enhance its stakeholders' well-being and character strengths. School is one of the social institutions where students learn both academic, interpersonal skills, and even emotion regulation. Research on well-being in school specifically methods to enhance well-being are in scarcity.

Larson (2000) mentioned that students nowadays have deficiency of positive development and not a mere indication of severe psychological problems. He encourages researchers to explore factors that may contribute to students' well-being. In the context of school aged children and adolescents Diener and Diener (1996) found out that even students feel stressed about school works they even rated themselves as positively happy. These results were replicated by several researches across cultures (countries such as Australia, Portugal, China, Canada, Spain, and Korea) and found the same self-evaluations among students.

The present study aims to explore possible ways to enhance students' well-being specifically life satisfaction and hope. The research focus on the life satisfaction of students in schools specifically their varied activities, and challenges as they strive to finish their college education.

Students' life satisfaction in school

Life satisfaction in general is the perception of a quality of life that involves, of course, a cognitive appraisal (Huebner, Suldo, & Mcknight, 2004). Both positive and negative experiences directly affect students' life satisfaction and daily experiences affect the life satisfaction in general. Gilman (2001) pointed out that student's school's life satisfaction was positively related to students' active participation in various extracurricular activities that the school may have. He added that students who participated well in various school activities do have higher school life satisfaction as compared to those who don't participate.

Suldo, Shafer and Riley (2008) identified that educators' lack of attention to students' well-being may be given a focus instead of purely academic achievement. Their review of literature identified key points to consider in studying factors for student satisfaction, first, perception of social support such as the academic staffs, general feeling of satisfaction with school, and last, academic self concept. Suldo, Shafer and Riley (2008) tested a model in predicting school life satisfaction. The path model revealed that parental involvement in school as well as student-teacher relationship contributes to life satisfaction. School satisfaction is important because happy students tend to show positive interpersonal relationship with schoolmates and school staffs and at the same time works collaboratively with others.

Academic Hope

Hopeful students are expected to conceptualize goals and will develop different strategies to reach those goals beyond experiencing school life satisfaction. Snyder and Lopez (2002) defined hope as a strength-based construct that is divided into both pathway and agentic thinking that makes hope cognitive and motivational. Low hope students are said to be more anxious during class activities and test taking activities. Low hope individuals are more likely to show sself-doubt and negative ruminative style that interferes with studying and applying what they learned from school (Snyder, 1999). On the other end, students with higher hope reported good academic standing, well correlated with positive problem solving and other school related achievements (Chang, 1998).

Enhancing students' life satisfaction and hope

Personal academic beliefs and its positive relationship with life satisfaction can be used as a backbone for an intervention for enhancing school life satisfaction. In the research of Chang, Mcbride-Chang, Stewart and Au (2003) giving importance to student's academic abilities, valuing school as important to one's goals, improvement in student-teacher relationship, and individual's self regulation in academic pressures increase student's well being in school.

On the other hand, Bouwkamp (2001) developed a school hope program that which utilized both target and universal hope techniques to increase hope. It was delivered in group based approach which aims to improve student's hopeful thinking.

Developing student's pathway thinking and agentic thinking

Snyder, Lopez, Shorey, Rand and Feldman (2003) suggested that goal setting activities and able to decompose goals to smaller goals and evaluating the likelihood that students can sequentially work on it helps improve pathway thinking. Agentic thinking can be improved by keeping a journal that identifies negative self-scripts and hypercritical self scripts and then teaching students to replace them with positive and productive thoughts. In addition, Snyder, Mcdermott (2002) mentioned that hopeful children often draw upon their own memories of positive experiences during difficult times. By reminiscing positive and good feeling or uplifting stories they create a positive personal self.

Wellness techniques to enhance well-being

To emphasize what was specified in the literature on life satisfaction and hope the researcher gathered several literature that was empirically proven to increase subjective well-being and on the other end serving the suggestions of Snyder (2003) for hope and Chang (2003) for life satisfaction.

It was mentioned in the literature that increase in life satisfaction is dependent on the frequency of experience of positive affect and hope agency and pathways are sensitive to problem solving activities and reminiscing positive experiences, Lyubormisky, Sousa and Dickerhoof (2006) research on writing and talking about positive experiences can be used to enhance subjective well being constructs. Those two academic basic skills tend to have features of organizing, integrating and analyzing problems and issues which the main purpose is to generate solutions to problems. Emmons and McCullough (2003) found benefits on writing activities specifically daily and weekly exercises. Bryant's (2003) on the other hand give importance to savouring positive experiences, and reminiscing good feeling moments are said to be related to increase in subjective well being.

Langston (1994) identified capitalization as a term to describe why people tend to use and stay with positive experiences and emotions because they get something out from it, it makes one enhance their emotional well-being. There are different ways to capitalize and stay or hang on with experiences and sharing and continous talking about the topic are two basic techniques. Smith, Caprariello, Tsai, Rodriquez, and Maniaci (2010)

In line with writing and savouring experiences, Emmons and McCullough (2003) posited that when we exercise gratitude and counting blessings it will most likely put the individual in a pleasant mood state. In their experimental study, experimental group participants who received gratitude conditions were considerably satisfied, felt more optimism, and felt connected with other people.

A study on cognitive distraction is said to be SWB enhancing. (Strick, Holland, van Baaren, & van Knippenberg, 2009) used humor as support or coping with negative feelings. Cann, Calhoun and Nance (2000) identified that with the exposure of experimental participants to humor it immediately reduced negative mood and participants were able to change their perception of their task from boring to interesting.

Method

The study was a quantitative and experimental design, specifically and non equivalent pretest and posttest control group design was utilized. The study aims to enhance hope, and life satisfaction scores.

Participants

4 sections participated in this study, while only 2 sections where utilized for the experiment and the combined sections for the identification of technique preferences. The experimental group (n = 37) are control group (n = 35) where identified as the target group for the study (Mean age = 18). They volunteered in the experimental without getting anything in return as stipulated in the consent form. The remaining 2 sections are for survey purposes on technique preferences.

Procedure

The experiment will run for 4 weeks which is a month calendar, with each session length of 2 hours with classroom discussion for the experimental group and control group. Differences in instruction where given via the inclusion of wellness techniques for the experimental group, while no inclusion of wellness techniques for the control group. Students are not familiar with the techniques included in class discussion and not even aware of the change in activities. Students were given enough information that they can opt not to attend the last 4 sections of the subject because their grades are already finished. Those who stayed for a review and evaluation of the modules can stay.

The first session started with a pretesting of hope scale, life satisfaction scale, and depression scale for both experimental and control group. Inclusion session started only for experimental group with a letter giving activity design to give thankful letters to classmates in class for an experience that they think they really need to say thank you to their classmates. Students will share their experiences to class afterwards. The purpose of which is to provide students venue to express gratitude and experience being thanked for action done in the past. The second inclusion for the session is humor (cognitive distraction) the class is divided into two groups and from a root word they will add suffixes and prefixes to make the root word evolved into various meaningful words (usually double barrelled words). The purpose of the activity is to provide distraction and promote happy moments with the group.

The second session inclusion involves Gratitude expressing and keeping a gratitude journal for one week. Students were educated how to keep and write gratitude journal to be submitted next meeting (full notes) each individual in the experimental group is required to submit a daily gratitude note via email to the researcher. The second part of the inclusion is to view a movie clip that encourages positive thinking, optimism and assertiveness.

The third session inclusion includes the review of the gratitude journal, and identifying one major happy moment worth keeping in the journal for having a very good positive emotion and being able to share it in class. The researcher taught the experimental group how to identify their savouring moments and keep it also in the journal to be shared by next meeting in class. The last inclusion for the third session was a humor activity where students were participants were tasked to answer revealing questions in a bowl. The purpose of the activity is to provide personal reflection and cognitive distraction in a way laughing at own faulty actions before.

The fourth session inclusion includes the groupings and sharing of individual positive experiences worth reminiscing, and what makes it really worth reminiscing. Each group reported in class factors what made each person in class wanted to savor good moments in life. The second inclusion activity is more on problem solving and sequential story where participants are asked to make a big circle and tasked to contribute to the story of a hopeless girl named Maria. Discussion on internal versus external locus of control ends the activity for the last part. Immediately after the session a posttest was administered to the experimental group. It is expected that the control group have the same schedule of posttest taking.

Data analysis

A manova was used to see the differences of each scores across dependent variables among two groups. A multidimensional scaling was used from the gathered data among 2 sections who experienced the inclusion by answering a preference questionnaire.

Results and Discussion

The present study aims to identify if there will be a mark change on hope, life satisfaction, and depression scores among experimental and control group which means identifying efficacy of inclusion of wellness techniques.

Table 1.

Means and Standard deviation values

DV

Pre/Post

E/C

M

Std. Dev

N

Depression

Post

C

17.52

8.52

25

E

13.00

7.23

28

Total

15.13

8.14

53

Pre

C

18.52

8.36

25

E

17.39

7.913

28

Total

17.92

8.07

53

Hope

Post

C

50.76

5.02

25

E

51.71

5.63

28

Total

51.26

5.32

53

Pre

C

49.68

5.82

25

E

51.43

3.65

28

Total

50.60

4.83

53

Life Satisfaction

Post

C

26.20

4.425

25

E

26.86

4.79

28

Total

26.55

4.59

53

Pre

C

24.80

4.99

25

E

26.39

4.37

28

Total

25.64

4.70

53

Descriptive statistics shows that the number of both experimental and control groups's participants decreased due to dropping of attendance (mortality). Comparing the pretest mean scores of each group showed that pretest results for hope, life satisfaction and depression are not equal. After the inclusion run of wellness techniques only the mean scores of depression in the posttest for the experimental group dropped from a pretest M = 17.39 to posttest depression M = 13.00.

Table 2

Test of Between-Subjects Effects

Pre/Post

Depression

SS

192. 06

df

1

MS

192.06

F

3.00

Sig.

.087

Hope

SS

12.32

df

1

MS

12.32

F

.48

Sig.

.491

LS

SS

22.95

df

1

MS

22.95

F

1.06

Sig.

.305

EC

Depression

SS

210.60

df

1

MS

210.60

F

3.28

Sig.

.073

Hope

SS

48.24

df

1

MS

48.24

F

1.87

Sig.

.174

LS

SS

33.43

df

1

MS

33.43

F

1.55

Sig.

.216

Sig. 0.017

In comparing pretest and posttest results to reveal the effectiveness of the inclusion of the wellness techniques in classroom discussion versus the non inclusion of the control group, it shows that across dependent variables and across groups there are no significant differences. It means that the inclusion of the wellness techniques that was used in the study wasn't effective in enhancing hope, life satisfaction and decreasing the depression scores among participants in the experimental group. Wilks lamda is not significant.

Figure 1

Wellness technique preferences of male students

Figure 1 showed that in the data gathered from the preference survey of n = 33, male students who exposed to inclusion of wellness techniques in class identified that Humor activity 1 and savouring / sharing activities uplifted their positive mood state for a week. The graph showed clustering of B and E with a stress = .004 which is good.

Figure 2

Wellness technique preferences of female students

Data gathered from N = 35, female students who were exposed to the inclusion of the wellness techniques in class identified clusters GH (Story of Maria and Dilemma Worksheet) and DE (Gratitude journal and Savouring/Sharing activities) in uplifting their positive mood state for a week with a stress = .000 which is good.

In the given findings identified it is good to note that wellness techniques might have lagged behind some of the factors that contribute to the frequency of more Negative affect to students. Considering that during the time of experiment it was also the time where student prepare for finals and other requirements. It is also highly suggested to focus only on one wellness techniques instead of integrating all three kinds of wellness techniques in the experiment namely, cognitive distraction, savouring, and gratitude journal and problem-goal setting. Even though depression scores were minimized it is not significantly considered in the research. Dampening is another concept where student can actually choose to minimize positive affect in lieu of a more challenging experience or risk to come. It is highly recommended that researcher should control possible threats such as personality, self esteem, dampening, and timing of the experiment.

The clustering of the wellness techniques per gender preferences showed how intervention can be replicate for the next research and inform others about gender preferences on the use of wellness techniques. It shows that girls appreciate the use of problem-solving goal setting as well as the story of Maria which is actually taps hope agentic and pathways, and at the same time opted for the savouring and gratitude activities which taps capitalization and maintenance of positive affect. On the other hand male students prefer humor activity which I think is less stressful for them because they don't exert effort to write and keep and journal which is also a male issue (disclosure) but they do tend to appreciate the savouring experiences as part of enhancing their well being. A pattern among gender showed that savouring and sharing positive things to others when others are attentive to what we share provides both positive emotions to both gender.

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