Evaluating Positive Psychology Curriculum Among Nontraditional Students in a Foundational Course

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Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies

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https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/dissertations/2871; https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3974&context=dissertations
Rhodes, Ruth Hilton
academic goal setting; authentic happiness; career college; nontraditional student; Positive Psychology; subjective well being; Educational Psychology; Psychology
thesis / dissertation description
Positive psychology emphasizes growth, adaptive functioning, and human potential. The present study contributes to this literature by examining the impact of exposure to a positive psychology curriculum among nontraditional students taking foundational courses in a career college. Mixed methods were utilized to assess changes in student well-being and goal setting quantitatively through pre- and post-tests of the Authentic Happiness Survey and the Satisfaction with Life Scale as well as identifying emergent themes from qualitative analysis of student reflections and written assignments over a 9-week term. Twenty-five students participated in foundational courses, which placed an emphasis on positive psychology. Paired samples t tests, Cohen's d, thematic analysis, and a researcher-designed Likert-scale assessed changes from the beginning of the course to the end among the quantitative and qualitative measures of overall well-being and goal attainment. Some of the notable findings included significantly positive changes in students' reports of authentic happiness, and 76% of students reporting that they had attained an academic, social, and personal goal over the course of the 9-week curriculum. Change in self-reported satisfaction with life approached, but it was not statistically significant. Thus, the implementation of a positive psychology curriculum in a nontraditional student population created positive social change in this particular sector of academia and was associated with increased overall well-being and attainment of goals.