Advertisement

A Review of Character Strengths Interventions in Twenty-First-Century Schools: their Importance and How they can be Fostered

  • Shiri LavyEmail author
Article
  • 17 Downloads

Abstract

A main challenge of educational organizations is how to foster students’ capacity to fulfill their potential. The present paper, based on educational, psychological, and organizational research, asserts that a discussion of character strengths and their development is highly relevant to this challenge. It provides an integrative overview of the relevance of character strengths to twenty-first-century schools and discusses different mechanisms that can help foster them. Character strengths—widely valued positive traits, theorized to be the basis for optimal functioning and well-being—may derive from inner tendencies, but are expected to have broad potential for development, depending on individuals’ experiences and environments. Furthermore, character strengths are closely related to twenty-first-century competencies – cognitive, interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies, identified by the American National Research Council as required for thriving in contemporary life and work, and thus considered to be desirable educational outcomes. The paper first delineates the connections between twenty-first-century competencies and character strengths, demonstrating the importance of promoting them in education. Then, mechanisms for fostering development of character strengths in schools are discussed, based on a review of the literature, including mechanisms that affect students (e.g., curriculum, relationships), teachers (e.g., training, supervisors), and schools (e.g., evaluation processes, resource allocation), while considering the interplay between these different levels. The concluding part of the paper outlines an integrative model of an optimal school system, expected to foster character strengths’ use and development and discuss its applications for research and practice.

Keywords

Character strengths Education Schools Interventions Positive education 21st century competencies School 

Notes

Supplementary material

11482_2018_9700_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 20 kb)

References

  1. Adelman, H. S., & Taylor, L. (2003). On sustainability of project innovations as systemic change. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 14(1), 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allender, J. S. (2001). Teacher self: The practice of humanistic education. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Almog, S., & Perry-Hazan, L. (2012). Conceptualizing the right of children to adaptable education. The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 20(4), 486–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alzina, R. B., & Paniello, S. H. (2017). Positive psychology, emotional education, and the happy classrooms program. Papeles del Psicólogo, 38(1), 58–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anderman, E. M., & Maehr, M. L. (1994). Motivation and schooling in the middle grades. Review of educational Research, 64(2), 287-309.Google Scholar
  6. Bates-Krakoff, J., McGrath, R. E., Graves, K., & Ochs, L. (2017). Beyond a deficit model of strengths training in schools: Teaching targeted strength use to gifted students. Gifted Education International, 33(2), 102–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berkowitz, M. W., & Bier, M. C. (2005). What works in character education: A research-driven guide for educators. Washington: Character Education Partnership.Google Scholar
  8. Berkowitz, M. W., & Bier, M. C. (2007). What works in character education. Journal of Research in Character Education, 5(1), 29.Google Scholar
  9. Bishop, J. (2010). Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). A Network of Battelle for Kids.Google Scholar
  10. Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives. Vol. 1: Cognitive domain. New York: McKay, 20–24.Google Scholar
  11. Bowlby, J. (2005). A secure base: Clinical applications of attachment theory (Vol. 393). Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, P., Corrigan, M. W., & Higgins-D'Alessandro, A. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook of prosocial education (Vol. 1). Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  13. Ciarrochi, J., Atkins, P. W. B., Hayes, L. L., Sahdra, B. K., & Parker, P. (2016). Contextual positive psychology: Policy recommendations for implementing positive psychology into schools. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1561.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clifton, D. O., & Harter, J. K. (2003). Investing in strengths. In Cameron, K., & Dutton, J. (Eds.). Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline. Berrett-Koehler Publishers (pp. 111-121).Google Scholar
  15. Coburn, C. E. (2003). Rethinking scale: Moving beyond numbers to deep and lasting change. Educational Researcher, 32(6), 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Colby, A., James, J. B., & Hart, D. (Eds.). (1998). Competence and character through life. University of Chicago Press. Coburn, 2003.Google Scholar
  17. Consort (2010). Checklist of information to include when reporting a randomized trial. https://www.elsevier.com/__data/promis_misc/CONSORT-2010-Checklist.pdf. Accessed 4 Apr 2018.
  18. Convention on the Right of the Child (1989). U.N. Doc. A/RES/44/25.Google Scholar
  19. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Freidlin, P., Littman-Ovadia, H., & Niemiec, R. M. (2017). Positive psychopathology: Social anxiety via character strengths underuse and overuse. Personality and Individual Differences, 108, 50–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fullan, M. (2002). The change. Educational Leadership, 59(8), 16–20.Google Scholar
  22. Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2013). Strength-based positive interventions: Further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being and alleviating depression. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(4), 1241–1259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ghielen, S. T. S., van Woerkom, M., & Christina Meyers, M. (2017). Promoting positive outcomes through strengths interventions: A literature review. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1–13.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2017.1365164.
  24. Gillham, J., Adams-Deutsch, Z., Werner, J., Reivich, K., Coulter-Heindl, V., Linkins, M., et al. (2011). Character strengths predict subjective well-being during adolescence. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(1), 31–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gillham, J.E., Abenavoli, R.M., Brunwasser, S.M., Linkins, M., Reivich, K. J., & Seligman M.E.P. (2014). Resilience education. In S. A. David, I. Boniwell, & A. C. Ayers (Eds.). The Oxford handbook of happiness. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Hammersley, M. (Ed.). (2007). Educational research and evidence-based practice. Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Han, S. S., & Weiss, B. (2005). Sustainability of teacher implementation of school-based mental health programs. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33(6), 665–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harzer, C. (2016). The eudaimonics of human strengths: The relations between character strengths and well-being. In Vittersø, J. (Ed.) Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being (pp. 307–322). Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
  29. Ho, S. M., Mak, C. W., Ching, R., & Lo, E. T. (2017). An approach to motivation and empowerment: The application of positive psychology. In I. H. Amzat & N. P. Valdez (Eds.), Teacher Empowerment toward Professional Development and Practices (pp. 167–182). Singapore: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hoy, W., & Miskel, C. G. (2013). Educational administration. Theory, research and Practice (9th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  31. Kern, M. L. P. (2017). Perseverance, achievement, and positive education. In M. A. White, G. R. Slemp, & A. S. Murray (Eds.), Future Directions in Well-Being (pp. 75–79). Cham: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kolb, D. A. (2014). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. FT press.Google Scholar
  33. Korthagen, F. A. (2004). In search of the essence of a good teacher: Towards a more holistic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(1), 77–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kristjánsson, K. (2013). Virtues and vices in positive psychology. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Lavy, S., & Littman-Ovadia, H. (2017). My better self: Using strengths at work and work productivity, organizational citizenship behavior, and satisfaction. Journal of Career Development, 44(2), 95–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lavy, S., Littman-Ovadia, H., & Bareli, Y. (2014). Strengths deployment as a mood-repair mechanism: Evidence from a diary study with a relationship exercise group. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(6), 547–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lavy, S., Littman Ovadia, H., & Bareli, Y. (2016). My better half: Strengths endorsement and deployment in married couples. Journal of Family Issues, 37, 1730–1745.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X14550365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lavy, S., Littman-Ovadia, H., & Boiman-Meshita, M. (2017). The wind beneath my wings: Effects of social support on daily use of character strengths at work. Journal of Career Assessment, 25(4), 703–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ledertoug, M. M. (2016). Strengths-based learning – Children’s Character Strengths as a means to their learning potential. PhD thesis, Submitted to DPU/Aarhus University, Denmark.Google Scholar
  40. Lickona, T., Schaps, E., & Lewis, C. (2007). CEP's Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education. Washington, DC: Character Education Partnership.Google Scholar
  41. Linkins, M., Niemiec, R. M., Gillham, J., & Mayerson, D. (2015). Through the lens of strength: A framework for educating the heart. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 64–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Littman-Ovadia, H., & Lavy, S. (2012). Differential ratings and associations with well-being of character strengths in two communities. Health Sociology Review, 21(3), 299–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Littman-Ovadia, H., Lavy, S., & Boiman-Meshita, M. (2017). When theory and research collide: Examining correlates of signature strengths use at work. Journal of Happiness Studies, 18(2), 527–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lottman, T. J., Zawaly, S., & Niemiec, R. (2017). Well-being and well-doing: Bringing mindfulness and character strengths to the early childhood classroom and home. In Positive Psychology Interventions in Practice (pp. 83-105). Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
  45. Madden, W., Green, S., & Grant, A. M. (2011). A pilot study evaluating strengths-based coaching for primary school students: Enhancing engagement and hope. International Coaching Psychology Review, 6(1), 71–83.Google Scholar
  46. Maslow, A. (1968). Some educational implications of the humanistic psychologies. Harvard Educational Review, 38(4), 685–696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McGrath, R. E. (2015). Character strengths in 75 nations: An update. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 41–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McLaughlin, M. W., & Mitra, D. (2001). Theory-based change and change-based theory: Going deeper, going broader. Journal of Educational Change, 2(4), 301–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Meijer, P. C., Korthagen, F. A., & Vasalos, A. (2009). Supporting presence in teacher education: The connection between the personal and professional aspects of teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(2), 297–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., & Altman, D. G. (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement. PLoS Medicine, 6(7), e1000097.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed1000097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mourshed, M., Patel, J., & Suder, K. (2014). Education to employment: Getting Europe’s youth into work. McKinsey & Company.Google Scholar
  52. National Research Council (NRC). (2012). Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. Committee on Defining Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills, J.W. Pellegrino and M.L. Hilton, Editors. Board on Testing and Assessment and Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  53. Niemiec, R. M. (2013). VIA character strengths: Research and practice (the first 10 years). In Knoop, H. H., & Delle Fave, A. (Eds.) Well-being and cultures (pp. 11–29). Springer Netherlands.Google Scholar
  54. Noddings, N. (2015). The challenge to Care in Schools, 2nd Edition. Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  55. O’Connor, M., & Cameron, G. (2017). The Geelong grammar positive psychology experience. In E. Frydenberg, A. J. Martin, & R. J. Collie (Eds.), Social and Emotional Learning in Australia and the Asia-Pacific (pp. 353–370). Singapore: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Oppenheimer, M. F., Fialkov, C., Ecker, B., & Portnoy, S. (2014). Teaching to strengths: Character education for urban middle school students. Journal of Research in Character Education, 10(2), 91–105.Google Scholar
  57. Pala, A. (2011). The need for character education. International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanity Studies, 3(2), 23–32.Google Scholar
  58. Palmer, P. (1998). The courage to teach. San Francisco: Josey Bass.Google Scholar
  59. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006a). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: The development and validation of the values in action inventory of strengths for youth. Journal of Adolescence, 29(6), 891–909.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006b). Character strengths and happiness among young children: Content analysis of parental descriptions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 323–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009). Strengths of character in schools. In Furlong, M. J., Gilman, R., & Huebner, E. S. (Eds.). Handbook of positive psychology in schools, Routledge, pp. 65–76.Google Scholar
  62. Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(5), 603–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Perry-Hazan, L. (2015). Curricular choices of ultra-orthodox Jewish communities: Translating international human rights law into education policy. Oxford Review of Education, 41(5), 628–646.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2015.1074564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Perry-Hazan, L. (2016). Religious affiliation, ethnicity, and power in admission policies to Jewish religious schools. Critical Studies in Education.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2016.1214158.
  65. Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification (Vol. 1). Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Proctor, C., Tsukayama, E., Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Eades, J. F., & Linley, P. A. (2011). Strengths gym: The impact of a character strengths-based intervention on the life satisfaction and well-being of adolescents. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(5), 377–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wellenzohn, S., & Ruch, W. (2013). What good are character strengths beyond subjective well-being? The contribution of the good character on self-reported health-oriented behavior, physical fitness, and the subjective health status. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(3), 222–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Quinlan, D., Swain, N., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2012). Character strengths interventions: Building on what we know for improved outcomes. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(6), 1145–1163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Quinlan, D. M., Swain, N., Cameron, C., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2015). How ‘other people matter’ in a classroom-based strengths intervention: Exploring interpersonal strategies and classroom outcomes. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 77–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Rashid, T., Anjum, A., Lennox, C., Quinlan, D., Niemiec, R. M., Mayerson, D., & Kazemi, F. (2013). Assessment of character strengths in children and adolescents. In C. Proctor & P. A. Linley (Eds.), Research, applications, and interventions for children and adolescents (pp. 81–115). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Seligman, M. E. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  73. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Shankland, R., & Rosset, E. (2017). Review of brief school-based positive psychological interventions: A taster for teachers and educators. Educational Psychology Review, 29(2), 363–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Shoshani, A., & Steinmetz, S. (2014). Positive psychology at school: A school-based intervention to promote adolescents’ mental health and well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(6), 1289–1311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Shoshani, A., Steinmetz, S., & Kanat-Maymon, Y. (2016). Effects of the Maytiv positive psychology school program on early adolescents' well-being, engagement, and achievement. Journal of School Psychology, 57, 73–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Suldo, S. M., Savage, J. A., & Mercer, S. H. (2014). Increasing middle school students’ life satisfaction: Efficacy of a positive psychology group intervention. Journal of happiness studies, 15(1), 19-42.Google Scholar
  78. Taylor, E. (2001). Positive psychology and humanistic psychology: A reply to Seligman. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 41(1), 13–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. van Woerkom, M., & de Bruijn, M. (2016). Why performance appraisal does not lead to performance improvement: Excellent performance as a function of uniqueness instead of uniformity. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 9(2), 275–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. van Woerkom, M., Bakker, A. B., & Nishii, L. H. (2016a). Accumulative job demands and support for strength use: Fine-tuning the job demands-resources model using conservation of resources theory. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(1), 141–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. van Woerkom, M., Mostert, K., Els, C., Bakker, A. B., de Beer, L., & Rothmann, S., Jr. (2016b). Strengths use and deficit correction in organizations: Development and validation of a questionnaire. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 25(6), 960–975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wagner, L., & Ruch, W. (2015). Good character at school: Positive classroom behavior mediates the link between character strengths and school achievement. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Waters, L. (2011). A review of school-based positive psychology interventions. The Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 28(2), 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Waters, L., Barsky, A., Ridd, A., & Allen, K. (2015). Contemplative education: A systematic, evidence-based review of the effect of meditation interventions in schools. Educational Psychology Review, 27(1), 103–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. White, M. A., & Waters, L. E. (2015). A case study of ‘the good school:‘examples of the use of Peterson’s strengths-based approach with students. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 69–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Leadership and Policy in EducationUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

Personalised recommendations