Student Skills for Happiness and Wellbeing

  • Toni NobleEmail author
  • Helen McGrath
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Well-Being and Quality of Life Research book series (BRIEFSWELLBEING)


This chapter outlines the key student skills and understandings for happiness and wellbeing at school and in their future, followed by a research-based definition of student wellbeing. The difference between student wellbeing and student welfare is clarified and then evidence-based guidelines are provided to help practitioners select effective student wellbeing programs. The chapter concludes by introducing PROSPER as an organising framework for the components of wellbeing that underpin positive psychological research and can be applied in positive education. The PROSPER components are Positivity, Relationships, Outcomes, Strengths, Purpose, Engagement and Resilience.


Student wellbeing Positive psychology Positive education Social-emotional learning programs 


  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. Albright, M. I., & Weissberg, R. P. (2010). Family-school partnerships to promote social and emotional learning. In S. L. Christenson & A. L. Reschly (Eds.), Handbook of school-family partnerships (pp. 246–265). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Albright, M. I., Weissberg, R. P., & Dusenbury, L. A. (2011). School-family partnership strategies to enhance children’s social, emotional, and academic growth. Newton, MA: National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, Education Development Center, Inc.Google Scholar
  4. Axford, S., Schepens, R., & Blyth, K. (2011). Did introducing the bounce back programme have an impact on resilience, connectedness and wellbeing of children and teachers in 16 primary schools in Perth and Kinross, Scotland? Educational Psychology, 12(1), 2–5.Google Scholar
  5. Bandura, A. (1996). Exercise of personal and collective efficacy in changing societies. In A. Bandura (Ed.), Self-efficacy in changing societies (pp. 1–45). NY: Cambridge Press.Google Scholar
  6. Barrett, P. M., Cooper, M., & Teoh, B. H. (2014). When time is of the essence: A rationale for ‘earlier’ early intervention. Journal of Psychological Abnormalities in Children, 3(4), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barry, M.A., Clarke, A.M., Jenkins, R., & Patel, V. (2013). A systematic review of the effectiveness of mental health promotion interventions for young people in low and middle income countries. BMC Public Health, 13, 835.
  8. Baumeister, R. F., Campbell, J. D., Krueger, J. I., & Vohs, K. D. (2005). Exploding the self-esteem Myth. Scientific American Mind, 16(4), 50–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Baumeister, R. F., Smart, L., & Boden, J. (1996). The dark side of high self-esteem. Psychological Review, 68, 70–71.Google Scholar
  10. Browne, G., Gafni, A., Roberts, J., Byrne, C., & Mujumbar, B. (2004). Effective/efficient mental health programs for school-age children: A synthesis of reviews. Social Science and Medicine, 58, 1367–1384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Catalano, R. F., Mazzab, J. J., Harachia, T. W., Abbott, R. D., Haggerty, K. P., & Fleminga, C. B. (2003). Raising healthy children through enhancing social development in elementary school: Results after 1.5 years. Journal of School Psychology, 41(2), 143–164.Google Scholar
  12. Catalano, R. F., Kosterman, R., Hawkins, J. D., et al. (1996). Modelling the etiology of adolescent substance use: A test of the social development model. Journal of Drug Issues, 26, 429–455.Google Scholar
  13. Datnow, A., & Castellano, M. (2000). Teachers’ responses to success for all: How beliefs, experiences, and adaptations shape implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 37, 775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Fraine, B., Van Landeghem, G., & Van Damme, J. (2005). An analysis of well-being in secondary school with multilevel growth curve models and multilevel multivariate models. Quality & Quantity, 39, 297–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Delors, J. (1996). Learning the treasure within. Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century.Google Scholar
  16. Diekstra, R. F. W., & Gravesteijn, C. (2008). Effectiveness of school-based social and emotional education programmes worldwide.
  17. Dix, K. L., Slee, P. T., Lawson, M. J. & Keeves, J. P. (2012). Implementation quality of whole school mental health promotion and students’ academic performance. Child Adolescence Mental Health, 17(1), 45–51.Google Scholar
  18. Durlak, J. A. (2015). What everyone should know about implementation. In J. A. Durlak., C. E. Domitrovich., R. P. Weissberg., T. P. Gullotta (Eds.), Handbook of Social and Emotional Learning. New York: The Guildford Press.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. Eckert, T. L., & Hintz, J. M. (2000). Behavioral conceptions and applications of acceptability: Issues related to service delivery and research methodology. School Psychology Quarterly, 15, 123–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Elias, M. (2003). Academic and social-emotional learning. International Academy of Education, I, 5–3, 1.Google Scholar
  22. Elias, J. E., Zins, P. A., Graczyk, R. P., & Weissberg, R. (2003). Implementation, sustainability, and scaling up of social-emotional and academic innovations in public schools. School Psychology Review, 32, 303.Google Scholar
  23. Engels, N., Aelterman, A., Van Petegem, K., & Schepens, A. (2004). Factors which influence the well-being of pupils in Flemish secondary schools. Educational Studies, 30(2), 127–143. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  24. Fraillon, J. (2004). Measuring Student Wellbeing in the Context of Australian Schooling: Discussion Paper Commissioned by the South Australian Department of Education and Children’s services as an agent of the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.
  25. Gable, S. J., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology? Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 103–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gillham, J., Brunwasser, S. M., & Freres, D. R. (2008). Preventing depression in early adolescence: The penn resiliency program. In J. R. Z. Abela & B. L. Hankin (Eds.), Handbook of depression in children and adolescents (pp. 309–332). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  27. Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. (2012). Global burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors study 2010. Seattle: Institute for Health, Metrics and Evaluation.Google Scholar
  28. Gottfredson, L. S. (1998). The general intelligence factor. Scientific American Presents, 9(4), 24–29.Google Scholar
  29. Greenberg, M. T., Domitrovich, C., & Bumbarger, B. (2001). Preventing mental disorders in school-age children: A review of the effectiveness of prevention programs. Report commissioned by the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  30. Greenberg, M., Weissberg, R., O’Brien, M., Zins, J., Fredericks, L., Resnik, H., & Elias, M. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist, 58, 466–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gresham, F. M., & Lopez, M. F. (1996). Social validation: A unifying concept for school-based consultation research and practice. School Psychology Quarterly, 11(3), 204–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Griffin, P., McGaw, B., & Care, E. (Eds.). (2012). Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills. Springer: Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  33. 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
  34. Hassall, I., & Hanna, K. (2007). School-based violence prevention programme. A literature review: Accident compensation corporation.Google Scholar
  35. Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Huppert, F. A., & So, T. T. C. (2013) Flourishing across europe: Application of a new conceptual framework for defining well-being. Social Indicators Research, 110(3), 837–861.Google Scholar
  37. Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Stanne, M. B. (2001). Cooperative learning methods: A meta-analysis.
  38. Kam, C. M., Greenberg, M. T., & Walls, C. T. (2003). Examining the role of implementation quality in school-based prevention using the PATHS curriculum. Prevention Science, 4, 55–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kim, E. M., Coutts, M. J., Holmes, S. R., Sheridan, S. M., Ransom, K. A., Sjuts, T. M., & Rispoli, K. M. (2012). Parent involvement and family-school partnerships: Examining the content, processes, and outcomes of structural versus relationship-based approaches. CYS Working Paper 2012-6, Nebraska Center for Research: Children, Youth families & Schools. Downloaded 11 February 2015 from:
  40. Kim-Cohen, J., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Harrington, H., Milne, B. J., & Poulton, R. (2003). Prior juvenile diagnoses in adults with mental disorder: Developmental follow-back of a prospective-longitudinal cohort. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60, 709–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Layard, R., & Hagell, A. (2015). Healthy young minds: Transforming the mental health of children. In J. H. Helliwell, R. Layard & J.Sachs (Eds.), World Happiness Report 2015. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
  42. Luby, J. L. (2010). Preschool depression: The importance of identification of depression early in development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19, 91–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McGrath, H., & Francey, S. (1991). Friendly kids, friendly classrooms. Melbourne: Pearson Education. (Nastasi, 2002).Google Scholar
  44. McGrath, H., & Noble, T. (2003). BOUNCE back! A classroom resiliency program. Teacher’s handbook. Sydney: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  45. McGrath, H., & Noble, T. (2011). BOUNCE BACK! A wellbeing & resilience program. Lower primary K-2; middle primary: Yrs 3-4; upper primary/junior secondary: Yrs 5-8. Melbourne: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  46. Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.Google Scholar
  47. New Development Paradigm. (2013). NDP steering committee and secretariat. Happiness: Towards a new development paradigm. Report of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Royal Government of Bhutan.
  48. Noble, T., & McGrath, H. (2008). The positive educational practices framework : A tool for facilitating the work of educational psychologists in promoting pupil wellbeing. Educational and child psychology, 25(2), 119–134.Google Scholar
  49. Noble, T., McGrath, H. L. Roffey, S. & Rowling, L. (2008). Scoping study into approaches to student wellbeing: A report to the department of education, employment and workplace relations.Google Scholar
  50. Noble, T. & McGrath, H. (2014). Wellbeing and resilience in school settings. In C. Ruini & G. A. Fava (Eds.), Increasing psychological wellbeing across cultures. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  51. Norrish, J. (2015). Positive education. The Geelong Grammar School Journey. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. OECD. (2014). Making mental health count: The social and economic costs of neglecting mental health care, OECD health policy studies. Paris: OECD Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. O’Malley, M., Katz, K., Renshaw, T., & Furlong, M. (2012). Gauging the system: Trends in school climate measurement and intervention. In S. Jimerson, A. Nickerson, M. Mayer, & M. Furlong (Eds.), The handbook of school violence and school safety: International research and practice (2nd ed., pp. 317–329). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. O’Shaughnessy, T. E., Lane, K. E., Gresham, F. E., & Beebe-Frankenberge, M. E. (2003). Children placed at risk for learning and behavioral difficulties. Implementing a school-wide system of early identification and intervention. Remedial and Special Education, 24(1), 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Reivich, K. (2005). Lecture on resilience. Authentic Happiness Coaching Online Course. Google Scholar
  56. Resnick, M. D., Bearman, P. S., & Blum, R. W. (1997). Protecting adolescents from harm: Findings from the national longitudinal study on adolescent health. JAMA, 278, 823–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Roseth, C. J., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2008). Promoting early adolescents’ achievement and peer relationships: The effects of cooperative, competitive and individualistic goal structures. Psychological Bulletin, 134(2), 223–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. In S. Fiske (Ed.), Annual review of psychology (Vol. 52, pp. 141–166). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews Inc.Google Scholar
  59. Seligman, M. E. P. (1998). Learned optimism. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  60. Seligman, M. E. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and wellbeing. NY: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  61. Seligman, M. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Seligman, M. E. P., Reivich, K., Jaycox, L., & Gillham, J. (1995). The optimistic child. New York: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  63. Shonkoff, J., & Phillips, D. (Eds.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  64. Slee, P. T., Lawson, M .J., Russell, A., Askell-Williams, H., Dix, K. L., Owens, L. D., Skrzypiec, G., & Spears. (2009). KidsMatter primary evaluation final report B.
  65. Sugai, G., Horner, R., & Lewis, T. (2009). School-wide positive behaviour support implementers’ blueprint and self-assessment. Eugene, OR: OSEP TA-Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.Google Scholar
  66. UNICEF. (2014). The state of the world’s children 2014 in numbers. Available from
  67. Webster-Stratton, C., & Taylor, T. (2001). Nipping early risk factors in the bud: Preventing substance abuse, delinquency, and violence in adolescence through interventions targeted at young children (ages 0–8 years). Prevention Science, 2(3), 165–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Weissberg, R. P., & O’Brien, M. U. (2004). What works in school-based social and emotional learning programs for positive youth development. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591, 86–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wells, J., Barlow, J., & Stewart-Brown, S. (2003). A systematic review of universal approaches to mental health promotion in schools. Health Education, 103(4), 197–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. World Health Organisation (WHO). (2003). Caring for children and adolescent with mental disorders: Setting WHO directions. Geneva: World Health Organisation.Google Scholar
  71. Zins, J. E., Weissberg, R. P., Wang, M. C., & Walberg, H. J. (Eds.). (2004). Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say?. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Positive Psychology and EducationAustralian Catholic UniversityStrathfieldAustralia
  2. 2.School of EducationDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

Personalised recommendations