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Gibbs, P. (2015). Time & Society, 24(1), 54-70. doi:10.1177/0961463X14561780

Author argues that profound happiness is contentment in becoming what one wills one’s being to be, in the knowledge of one’s capabilities. The approach involves an educative process of developing potential capabilities and a realistic appreciation of what this means for one, being in the world with others. It is not fanciful and it denies that one can be whatever one fantasises, replacing this with a notion of contentment with what one might feasibly be (see Gibbs and Dean, 2014). What it boils down to, Gibbs argues, is that contentment is about finding and knowing one’s place in the world; fitting in through self meaningful ways.

Rojas, M., & Veenhoven, R. (2013). Social Indicators Research, 110(2), 415-431. doi:10.1007/s11205-011-9952-0

Contentment: The degree to which an individual perceives his wants to be met is called ‘contentment’ by Veenhoven. This concept presupposes that the individual has developed some conscious wants and has formed an idea about their realization. This research has found that contentment has much greater power than affect balance in explaining the variability in life satisfaction across countries. Affect Balance is used to measure quality of life, and is an overall evaluation made by the individual in accounting all his pleasant and unpleasant experiences in the recent past’

Kristjánsson, Á. L., Sigfúsdóttir, I. D., Allegrante, J. P., & Helgason, Á. R. (2009). American Journal Of Health Behavior, 33(1), 69-79.

Over 5000 people responded to this survey. School contentment measured by “I want to quit school”; “I want to switch schools”; and “I feel bad at school,” using 1 = “applies almost always to me,” 2 = “applies often to me,” 3 = “applies sometimes to me,” 4 = “applies seldom to me,” and 5 = “applies almost never to me.” Academic achievement was self-reported via grades, as was BMI, physical activity, and sedentary lifestyle. Contentment was used and seen as a mediator of these thing. Firstly, age-appropriate weight status (as measured by BMI), participation in physical activity, and sedentary lifestyles were all associated with better academic achievement. However, their results demonstrate that positive school contentment is possibly caused, at least in part, by healthy lifestyle. Some of the measured relationships are quite weak, particularly those stemming from BMI and sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, they failed to discover a sizable mediational effect from the independent variables on academic achievement through school contentment. The measure for contentment itself may be bad.

Bowman, R. (2011). Clearing House, 84(6), 264-269. doi:10.1080/00098655.2011.592164

From the paper” Exceptional educators understand the fundamental difference between motivation and inspiration in the classroom: “Motivation is self-focused; inspiration is other focused” (Secretan 2005, 14). For the besieged classroom teacher in an era of accountability and high stakes testing, one’s initial instructional impulse predictably springs from a place of self-concern: “I want to change your behavior with a reward or incentive, so that, if you meet the targets or goals I set for you, you will help me meet my own needs and goals” (Secretan 2005, 14). When students are motivated extrinsically, external forces characteristically determine one’s emotions and behaviors. When “students are inspired, however, forces within shape their emotions and behaviors” (Bowman 2007, 81). Schlechty (2002) pinpoints the challenge compellingly: The primary function of a teacher as mentor is to “inspire others to do things that they might otherwise not do and encourage others to go in directions they might not otherwise pursue” (xviii). Specifically, impactful teachers guide students to greatness by inspiring them to discover where their talents and passions intersect so that one’s unique strengths result “in an increase in performance, service, and life satisfaction” (Secretan 2005, 14).

Marks, H.M. & Louis, K.S. (1997). Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 19(3), 245-275.

After looking at elementary, middle, and high schools (24 total; 8 each), results strongly support the argument that empowerment will positively influence teachers’ efforts to improve instruction, their belief that student achievement is in large measure a result of their own teaching effort, and their propensity to exchange information among themselves about the effectiveness of their teaching. Additionally, the results support the theoretical work arguing against a direct connection between empowerment and student achievement. The study found that empowerment works to the academic advantage of students only when it supports teachers in changing their instruction so that it becomes more involving and demanding for students. In other words, teacher empowerment affects pedagogical quality and student academic performance indirectly through school organization for instruction.

Frymier, A. B. (1996). Communication Education, 45(3), 181-199. doi:10.1080/03634529609379048

Empowered learners are more motivated to perform classroom tasks, and they feel more competent in the classroom, find the required tasks more meaningful, and feel they have an impact on their learning process. The paper and its measure encourages the concept of empowerment to be seen as a state, not a trait. Additionally, empowerment has been conceptually defined as the process of creating intrinsic task motivation by providing an environment and tasks which increase one’s feeling of self-efficacy and energy (Conger & Kanungo, 1988; Thomas & Venthouse, 1990)

Middleton, D. (2004). Contemporary Politics, 10(3/4), 227-241. doi:10.1080/1356977042000316691

There are three very good reasons for caring about respect. First, self-respect is an integral part of our image of our self. Second, ‘social respect’ mediates our social interactions. Judgments of our merits and status are part of the everyday interactions that we engage in. Respect matters because it represents a way in which we are taken seriously by others. And, third, respect matters because it links to social justice.

Buckner, M. M., & Frisby, B. N. (2015). Communication Studies, 66(3), 398-413. doi:10.1080/10510974.2015.1024873

The first part of this paper summarizes some good research: “Research has found that students indicated they were less likely to negotiate with the instructor about the classroom culture when students felt valued by their instructor (Goodboy & Myers, 2008). Responding to questions appears to communicate worth and value to students (Young et al., 2013). Young et al. (2013) also found that each dimension of instructor confirmation (i.e., responding to questions, expressing interest, and teaching style) interacted differently with each type of classroom justice. Classroom justice describes perceptions of fairness related to classroom outcomes or procedures (Chory-Assad & Paulsel, 2004). While instructor responses to questions predicted all three types of classroom justice, expressing interest and teaching style were nonsignificant predictors of classroom justice. Therefore, each dimension of instructor confirmation may uniquely influence student decisions regarding whether to, and how to, express instructional dissent.”
Their study indicates that when students perceive their instructor to engage in confirming behaviors, students also report lower likelihood to express dissent, specifically expressive and vengeful dissent. Further, our results suggest that instructor teaching style may predict expressive dissent, and all three confirming instructor behaviors relate to decreased vengeful dissent. Response to questions emerged as the strongest predictor variable of students expressing vengeful dissent. Basically, answer questions.

De Cremer, D., & Tyler, T. R. (2005). Social Justice Research, 18(2), 121-153. doi:10.1007/s11211-005-7366-3

Authors proposed that these two identity concerns relate to the desire to belong and to concern for reputation. In line with the moderating effect of belongingness, Studies 1–3 indeed showed that variations in respect influenced a variety of reactions, but only when people’s desire to belong was reinforced. Furthermore, Studies 4–6 demonstrated that the effect of respect was indeed moderated by people’s concerns about their reputation (i.e., the reputation social self; Tyler, 1999, 2001). Findings: If the desire to belong is salient (this time assessed by how strongly an individual’s need to belong was), they respond significantly to variations in respect from others in the group. In contrast, when this desire is less salient, variations in respect from others in the group do not influence people’s reactions. Their first two studies found that respect is an important relational ingredient in social interactions

Schaefer, S. M., Morozink Boylan, J., van Reekum, C. M., Lapate, R. C., Norris, C. J., Ryff, C. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Plos ONE, 8(11), 1-9. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080329

Purpose in life predicts both health and longevity suggesting that the ability to find meaning from life’s experiences, especially when confronting life’s challenges, may be a mechanism underlying resilience. Having purpose in life may motivate reframing stressful situations to deal with them more productively, thereby facilitating recovery from stress and trauma. In turn, enhanced ability to recover from negative events may allow a person to achieve or maintain a feeling of greater purpose in life over time. Greater purpose in life, assessed over two years prior, predicted better recovery from negative stimuli indexed by a smaller eyeblink after negative pictures offset, even after controlling for initial reactivity to the stimuli during the picture presentation, gender, age, trait affect, and other well-being dimensions.


The results obtained show a significant meaning of the sense of purpose in life for satisfaction measures (well being) and for self-efficacy. The ability to maintain the feeling of sense of one’s existence seems to be a significant factor that protects from a decrease in life quality and keeps the feeling of being able to deal in difficult situations, as well as it helps to accept depression symptoms, which in turn allows to dealing with them in a more efficient manner.

Windsor, T. D., Curtis, R. G., & Luszcz, M. A. (2015). Developmental Psychology, 51(7), 975-986. doi:10.1037/dev0000023

Results indicated that participants who scored higher on sense of purpose reported lower levels of functional disability, performed better on cognitive tests (episodic memory and speed of processing), and reported better self-rated health and fewer depressive symptoms. Sense of purpose was not associated with individual differences in rates of change in the aging well indices with the exception of speed of processing, for which a higher sense of purpose was associated with marginally shallower rates of decline. Higher sense of purpose was also associated with increased probability of survival, although this association became weaker over time. The findings support the notion that purposeful living contributes to health and well-being. At the same time, higher sense of purpose may not buffer against more pervasive losses in health that become more common in oldest-old adulthood.

Spreitzer, G., Porath, C. L., & Gibson, C. B. (2012). Organizational Dynamics,41(2), 155-162.

Companies which promote the thriving of their employees help their employees become more energized at work which helps them grow and develop. This strategy helps the company thrive as a whole. Companies committed to energizing their employees increase job performance and improve the health of their employees. This article mentions many ways companies can promote the thriving of their employees. Examples of strategies include providing performance feedback to help people focus on personal growth, promoting individual learning and creativity, and allowing employees to make some decisions about their work. Companies can also promote healthy practices such as eating right, exercising, and sleeping. By promoting healthy habits, companies have found happier and healthier employees who work harder and help the company thrive as a whole.

Abbey, A., Abramis, D. J., & Caplan, R. D. (1985). Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 6(2), 111-129.

Three questions are addressed in this article “(a) Which sources of social support are most strongly related to emotional well-being?, (b) What is the relationship between social support and social conflict?, and (c) Which sources of social conflict are most strongly related to emotional well-being?” A survey was distributed to 168 undergraduates. They were asked questions about the social support and social conflict experienced with different people in their lives: either a person in their personal life, some person they did not know, or the person closest to them. The results from the survey showed the social support and social conflict were only significantly correlated when the participant was referring to the person closest to them. There was a strong positive relationship between social support and quality of life.

Colarossi, L. G., & Eccles, J. S. (2003). Social Work Research, 27(1), 19-30.

This study researched the differential effects of parent, teacher, and peer support on adolescents. Differential effects of support were found between genders. For example, female adolescents reported significantly more perceived support from friends while males reported significantly more perceived support from fathers. The perceived support from mothers and teachers did not differ with gender. This study also found that social support affected levels of depression and self-esteem. Friend and teacher support significantly affected self-esteem levels. This research helps social work clinicians selectively promote certain types of social support. For example, to increase self-esteem, peer support groups would be the most effective based on these results.

Davison, C., Michaelson, V., & Pickett, W. (2015). BMC Public Health, 15(1), 1-11 doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1636-2

Social supports and their cumulative availability indeed were strongly related to perceived health, with more supports being associated with better self-perceived health. Less affluent children were much more likely to report excellent health in the presence of numerous social supports. More affluent children were much more likely to report poor health in the absence of such supports. The strength and dose-dependent nature of the findings were consistent and striking.

Taşdan, M., & Yalçin, T. (2010). Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 10(4), 2609-2620.

Results of the study indicated that primary school teachers’ perceived social support obtained from school principal, colleagues, parents, school medium and students do not change according to teachers’ gender, major, and educational level. Previous studies about perceived social support show both consistent and contrasting results with this study’s results. Novice teachers and teachers with seniority more than 10 years have perceived more social support than teachers with 2-6 years of seniority. Another result of the study, which is parallel to the previous one, is that novice teachers and teachers with seniority more than 10 years perceived more social support from school administrator, colleagues and parents than teachers with 2-6 years of seniority.

Chhuon, V., & Wallace, T. L. (2014). Youth & Society, 46(3), 379-401. doi:10.1177/0044118X11436188

In this qualitative study, the authors explored late adolescents’ perceptions and experiences of “being known” by adults in high school. Distinct from a generalized perception of the school environment, (i.e., sense of school belonging), they say the concept of being known may provide a cohesive and efficient framework for understanding the intersections of developmental tasks, psychosocial perceptions, and effective teaching. Three robust themes emerged from focus groups held with 77 high school adolescents (14-20 years old): (a) moving beyond “just teach” teacher relationships; (b) providing instrumental support; and (c) engaging a benefit-of-the-doubt treatment of students.

Turner, S., & Braine, M. (2015). Pastoral Care In Education, 33(1), 47-62. doi:10.1080/02643944.2015.1005657

This case study reports the use of the ‘safe’ concept by trainee and experienced teachers in England and uses ‘safe spaces’ groupings to allow categorising of the qualitative results obtained. The majority of trainee teacher responses related to ‘safe’ meaning a classroom where no child is embarrassed about sharing their opinions/answers, where pupils are comfortable about taking risks in their learning and one which is rooted in mutual respect. Experienced teachers reported that a ‘safe’ classroom was where pupils could express their thoughts, feel comfortable and be safe from harm. This concept has been used by all participants in this study but differently.

Nelson, R. M., & DeBacker, T. K. (2008). Journal Of Experimental Education, 76(2), 170-189.

Classmates are likely to influence classroom climate via the norms that are modeled and valued (Berndt & Savin-Williams, 1993; Brown, 1990; Kinderman, McCollam, & Gibson, 1996; Trickett & Moos, 1973). Researchers have shown a positive relationship between how involved students perceive their classmates to be in classroom activities and end-of-semester grades (Moos & Moos, 1978), number of absences (Moos & Moos), and satisfaction and interest in the class (Moos, 1978). Moreover, Sage and Kinderman (1999) reported that individual student engagement was positively related to the engagement level of other members in their classroom peer network. Classroom peers also provide information about whether an individual is an accepted and valued member of the class or school community (Goodenow, 1993a) and determine whether the classroom feels comfortable and safe (Anderman, 2003). These features of the peer climate influence individual students’ psychological sense of belonging. Studies suggest that when students feel accepted in their school environment they are more likely to view classrooms as supporting mastery and improvement (Anderman, 2003) and to pursue mastery goals (Anderman & Anderman, 1999). However, in school environments in which students do not feel comfortable and safe, social comparisons and competition may become more prominent, resulting in the pursuit of performance goals (Anderman & Anderman). Researchers have also found belongingness to be related to academic self-efficacy (Battistich, Solomon, Watson, & Schaps, 1997; Roeser, Midgley, & Urdan, 1996). Classroom norms may be supportive of or oppositional to academic success (Kinderman, 1993; Murdock, 1999; Ryan, 2000). That is, norms might encourage involvement in learning activities or discourage behaviors such as completing assignments, seeking good grades, and doing homework. Murdock reported that perceived peer resistance to school norms was negatively correlated with engagement in school tasks and positively correlated with discipline problems at school.

Patterson, C. J. (2013). Theory Into Practice, 52(3), 190-195. doi:10.1080/00405841.2013.804312

Research on LGBT adolescents has revealed that, for many, schools are astonishingly hostile environments. Much of this research is summarized in the United States Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 2011 report, The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: Building a foundation for better understanding, and more detail about these issues can be found there. A national survey of over 1,700 sexual minority adolescents conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that about 75% of self-identified LGBT adolescents reported hearing antigay remarks or terms often or frequently at school, and that most reported feeling distressed by this experience (Kosciw & Diaz, 2006). In the same survey, most LGBT adolescents reported that they had been harassed or threatened at school, and fully one in three reported that they had been physically attacked. It is easy to understand, then, that almost two in three LGBT adolescents reported feeling unsafe at school due to their sexual orientation.

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