Year

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Education - Faculty of Social Sciences

Abstract

This study followed one male secondary school cohort over three years, prior and during a positive education implementation at their school. The purpose of this research was two-fold. Firstly, it investigated the predictive power of Meaning in Life and Purpose in Life on the Wellbeing of this cohort. Secondly it examined whether the whole school approach towards positive education had any effect or impact on the predictors and outcome. This research was conducted as Meaning in Life and Purpose in Life have been proposed as protective factors for adolescent wellbeing in theoretical literature, however, there is a lack of empirical evidence that demonstrates this. Literature that demonstrates Meaning in Life and Purpose in Life are concepts which can successfully be taught as part of a positive education program to enhance student wellbeing is also limited. To conduct the research, a longitudinal mixed method research design was chosen. It followed a sequential exploratory mixed method approach, quantitatively measuring Meaning in Life, Purpose in Life and Wellbeing via questionnaires at four time points over two years. The quantitative findings were then used to inform the design of three semistructured focus group interviews with fifteen randomly selected participants. This study found Meaning in Life and Purpose in Life to be strong predictors of secondary boys’ Wellbeing, and, each predictor can be taught as part of a whole school approach towards positive education to enhance wellbeing. However, the effectiveness of Meaning in Life and Purpose in Life education is dependent on the successful implementation of the whole school approach. In the case of this study, Meaning in Life and Purpose in Life education could be improved by further collaboration with parents/carers/guardians, and, further teacher training on applying student-centred learning to the positive education based classes. These findings are significant as they empirically demonstrate Meaning in Life and Purpose in Life are protective factors for male adolescent Wellbeing, and, these predictors are teachable concepts that can be taught as part of a whole school approach to positive education to enhance male adolescent wellbeing.

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