What is the evidence base underlying Positive Education?

When Positive Education first began as a field it relied heavily on the emerging evidence-base of Positive Psychology in association with established research in the fields of organisational change research, developmental and educational psychology, public health and systems perspectives of prevention and intervention and best-practice education.  See our literature reviews for further information about the efficacy of different Positive Psychology Interventions with children and adolescents.

In the past few years, Positive Education has begun to mature as a field as there are now numerous frameworks and studies investigating the effectiveness of Positive Education programs across the whole school versus just at the individual level.  See our Research Overview for further information about how Geelong Grammar has contributed to understandings in the field.  Click here to download a PDF listing some studies investigating Positive Education in Australia and around the world.

Did Geelong Grammar School collect baseline data on the wellbeing of students and staff?

No, Geelong Grammar School did not collect baseline data on the wellbeing of staff and/or students prior to beginning Positive Education in 2008.   The Leaders of the school trusted in the theory and emerging evidence-base of Positive Psychology enough to invest in the initial staff training with Martin Seligman and his team from Penn University.  Despite this, we recommend that schools implementing Positive Education obtain baseline data and continue to monitor the wellbeing of students and staff with valid and reliable wellbeing measures.   

What wellbeing measures should we use in our school?

In short, we recommend using measurement tools which have been validated by scientists within the field. Some examples include: The University of Melbourne Wellbeing Profiler, Assessing Wellbeing in Education (AWE) tool, ACER Social and Emotional Wellbeing Survey, Resilient Youth Survey and Flourishing at School.

Deciding which measurement tool is right for your school will depend on your school’s context, specific needs and goals, the Positive Education/Wellbeing model your school decides to use and the make-up of your school (age of students, cultural diversity, etc.).  Prior to investing in measurement tools, it is wise to come to an agreement on the things mentioned above.  The aim is to align your measurement tool to what you are trying to change, for example, your school may want to focus on increasing students’ gratitude, in which case, they should investigate reliable measures for gratitude.   

How can research support successful whole school implementation?

There are many ways which research can contribute to the successful whole school implementation of Positive Education. Keeping a research perspective in a field which is highly motivating and ‘feel good’ can help to ground schools, remove bias and keep them accountable to their aims. Collecting and integrating current research findings about effective positive psychology interventions for students and whole school approaches increases the likelihood of positive impact for students and staff.  The Institute is very interested in implementation science, which is the science of how to best implement evidence-based programs. At present, there is no systematic and empirical studies of implementation success factors for Positive Education. We have reviewed whole school implementation research from the complementary field of Social and Emotional Learning and identified some key processes for success.  We are currently developing a Positive Education Roadmap quality implementation framework which we hope to share through publication and the resource section of our website when complete.  Research supports a school’s continuous improvement through measurement and monitoring, action research efforts to adapt Positive Education to its context and partnerships with universities.  

I am a researcher, university student and/or practitioner and would like to do research with the Institute of Positive Education, how might I get involved?

Please feel free to get in touch with us with your ideas and/or research proposal.  We review research proposals on a case by case basis according to research priorities, feasibility, ethical standards and strategic fit.