Academic journal article Education

Validating Personal Well-Being Experiences at School: A Quantitative Examination of Secondary School Students

Academic journal article Education

Validating Personal Well-Being Experiences at School: A Quantitative Examination of Secondary School Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

The notion of personal wellbeing is relatively complex and scopes a number of psychosocial attributes (Fraillon, 2004). This theoretical orientation is non-deficit and reflects a positive psychological approach to the study of human behavior. It is in a nation's best interest to encourage and nurture enriched personal wellbeing experiences, given that such feat may in turn result in adaptive practices and performance outcomes. A synthesis of the empirical literature, indicated by extensive theoretical overviews (e.g., ACU and Erebus International, 2008; Fraillon, 2004), has yielded interesting results for consideration. One notable finding in the context of academic learning, for example, entails the inconsistency and diversity of what constitutes the essence of personal wellbeing in school settings (Phan, 2015-In press-c; Van Damme, De Fraine, Van Landeghem, Opdenakker, & Onghena, 2002).

One important line of inquiry, based on the inconclusiveness and inconsistency of existing research development, is a refinement of the personal wellbeing construct in school contexts. This conceptualization, we contend, is a valued focus for advancement, given that such findings may clarify and consolidate existing theorizations of personal wellbeing. We recently reviewed existing theoretical overviews of personal wellbeing experiences, and have developed a quantitative measure (i.e., the Academic Well-Being Experience Questionnaire) that details a number of wellbeing components--for example, the importance of academic striving (Phan, 2015-In press-c; Phan & Ngu, 2014). Our theorization is innovative for its holistic approach, and may yield fruitful information regarding the constituency of an individual's personal wellbeing. The present research study, correlational in nature, makes attempts to expand on our previous articulation of personal wellbeing, and explore the construct and structural validity of the Academic Well-Being Experience Questionnaire (Phan, 2015-In press-c). We situate the inquiry of the research investigation within the framework of social cognition (Bandura, 1986, 1997), especially focusing on the tenet of personal self-efficacy beliefs.

Personal Wellbeing Experiences: A Theoretical Overview

The notion of personal wellbeing in educational contexts emphasizes the importance of a person's "a sustainable state of positive mood and attitude, resilience, and satisfaction with self, relationships and experiences at school" (ACU and Erebus International, 2008, p. 5). This definition is relatively general and scopes a wide range of attributes and experiences that reflect motivation, cognition (e.g., resilience), affective responses, and adaptive behaviors. A focus on individualized wellbeing is of significance for its non-deficit emphasis on quality learning and human behavior. Rather than focusing on a person's maladaptive performance outcome, the tenets of personal wellbeing contend with the fostering of quality learning and positive practices. It is in a community's best interest to encourage individuals to acquire and experience positive wellbeing.

The study of personal wellbeing has, to date, been extensive with different proposed conceptualizations (ACU and Erebus International, 2008). Different conceptualizations, of course, have led to a variety of definitions and understandings of personal wellbeing. In general, similar to the definition described previously, personal wellbeing may encompass some of the following attributes, for example: "happiness", "life satisfaction", and "positive emotions" (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2002), "optimal functioning" (Ryan & Deci, 2001), "positive feelings" and "positive psychological functioning" (Keyes & Haidt, 2002), "positive state" and "satisfaction of needs" (Prilleltensky & Prilleltensky, 2006), "resilience", "maximizing one's potential", "productive outcomes", and "contribution to community" (WHO, 2007), and "autonomy", "safety", "engagement with life", "positive sense of self', and "valued by others" (New South Wales Commission for Children and Young People, 2007). …

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