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Giving for a Better World

Working with the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), Deakin University, we are investigating approaches to enhancing ‘eudaimonic’ wellbeing, or that wellbeing associated with acts of genuine caring and prosocial contribution. The theoretical framework is that eudaimonic wellbeing is not so much a goal of action, as an outcome of voluntary intrinsic caring behaviour. In the project, Year 8 and year 10 students volunteered to participate in this school-based study where Year 10 mentor students were gender paired with Year 8 students. The students worked together to develop their own prosocial projects, one hour a week for two school terms. The hypothesis was that evoking and developing student caring behaviours can be accompanied by increasing character development and more fulfilling forms of wellbeing.  Wellbeing in this new eudaimonic model is not measured so much in terms of positive emotions as character development and emotional health. The research is co-ordinated by Dr. Bill Hallam, and supported by Professor Craig Olsson and Professor John Toumbourou from SEED.
The project is now complete and in the dissemination phase.  The study found that it is feasible to assess eudaimonic wellbeing and that students who have a habit to volunteer demonstrate significantly higher eudaimonic wellbeing compared to those who do not.  Some volunteering students were found to have intrinsic motivation for prosocial action while other students demonstrated extrinsic motivation for prosocial action.  Contrary to expectations, eudaimonic wellbeing was not found to differ according to students’ intrinsic or extrinsic motivation to volunteer.  Students who volunteered to be in the mentoring programme maintained high levels of eudaimonic wellbeing pre and post the participation, however those in the control group reported declines in wellbeing over the same period as is commonly observed in adolescence. Researchers concluded voluntary prosocial action may have a significant role to play in wellbeing education. 

The impact of Positive Education training

The research team within the Institute of Positive Education aims to assess impact of intensive Positive Education training experiences for teachers.  Through the collection of before and after measures of teachers’ reported wellbeing and self-efficacy for teaching Positive Education, this project evaluates the impact of our 3-day Discovering Positive Education training experiences and explores how training could be improved to enhance the implementation of Positive Education.  It is expected that the training will have a significantly positive effect on teachers’ wellbeing and self-efficacy for teaching Positive Education over time.  
In order to better understand what facilitates and acts a barrier to implementing Positive Education, this study will engage teachers in focus groups who have completed the training to gather qualitative information about what works and the challenges they face in their specific school settings. The research has undergone review by the Barwon Health Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).  Pending final ethics approval, recruitment for this project is set to begin in September 2018.

Positive Education in the post-school transition

A research team led by Professor Dianne Vella-Brodrick from the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne, is working on an exciting research project that will seek participation of former secondary school students, including those from GGS. This 3 year project is funded by the Australian Research Council and GGS and includes Maroondah City Council and OELLEN as partners.  In addition to exploring the mental health effects of school-based Positive Education on young people once they leave school, the research team has worked with a group of ‘youth leaders’ to co-develop an innovative and practical wellbeing program to help young people manage post-school challenges such as forming new relationships, becoming more independent and juggling multiple commitments. Over a 12 week period, participants will receive brief action-based messages via SMS which they are encouraged to apply to their daily life. An interactive smartphone app will be used to collect data and will provide useful feedback to participants about their mental health and wellbeing.
Former students of GGS who graduated between 2015 and 2017 will be invited to participate toward the latter half of the year.

Reflections on mindfulness – from the voice of children

Federation University Masters student and Deakin University Associate Lecturer Charlotte Fraser is leading an innovative research project exploring how young children perceive and understand mindfulness sessions. This research aims to explore the experiences of children who participate in a regular mindfulness programme at school. The research question is ‘What is the lived experience for children involved in a regular mindfulness programme in a primary school?’ Geelong Grammar School is excited to be involved in this project and looks forward to hearing how findings can inform our mindfulness programmes.  This project is currently underway and findings are expected in December 2018.