In recent years, interventions that apply positive psychology principles have become increasingly popular, providing an alternative approach to promoting pupils’ well-being. A recent research study published in Frontiers in Psychology examined a positive education programme in China focusing on positive emotion for middle school pupils.
Participants were drawn from a public middle school in the city of Chengdu, China. A total of 173 eighth graders (Year 9) from six classes participated in the study, of which three classes (84 pupils) were randomly allocated to the intervention group, and three classes (89 pupils) were assigned to the control group. Pupils in the intervention group received a 10-session positive education programme delivered by their teachers who received training in positive psychology from the researchers. The programme consisted of three main modules, namely understanding emotions, fostering positive emotions, and managing negative emotions. Each session lasted 45 minutes. Pupils in the control group spent the same time taking a moral education class that covered moral character, school discipline and class culture building.
Pupils completed online assessments (a Chinese version of the PROMIS paediatric scale) measuring depressive symptoms before and after the intervention. The study found that:
- The level of depressive symptoms for pupils in both groups increased as measured by the post-test.
- However, compared to the pupils in the control group, the increase in the level of depressive symptoms of pupils in the intervention group was significantly less.
The authors suggest that compared to correcting pupils’ behaviours, positive interventions which keep pupils intrinsically motivated could also help pupils improve their life in an effective way.
Source: Positive education interventions prevent depression in Chinese adolescents (June 2019), Frontiers in Psychology, volume 10