Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Research Publications

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    Chinese international students' conceptualizations of wellbeing: A prototype analysis
    Huang, L ; Kern, MLL ; Oades, LGG (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2022-08-24)
    Wellbeing can mean different things to different people, even in the same culture with the same language. People living at the intersection of two languages and cultures, such as Chinese students studying in an English-speaking nation, not only speak a different language than their host country, but also may have different conceptualizations of wellbeing itself. This study investigated Chinese international students' (aged 18-39, N = 123) conceptualizations of wellbeing using a modified prototype analysis, which provided insights on people's underlying structure of the construct as revealed through language. Chinese international students' conceptualizations of wellbeing were prototypically structured; key components of wellbeing included positive relationships, security, positivity/optimism, physical health, and self-strength. The findings broaden the understanding of layperson wellbeing conceptualizations, provide insights into the wellbeing related concepts and language that are most used by international Chinese students, and inform strategies that tertiary education institutions might adopt to effectively support Chinese international students' wellbeing.
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    Development of the Flourishing Classroom System Observation Framework and Rubric: a Delphi Study
    Allison, L ; Kern, ML ; Jarden, A ; Waters, L (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, )
    Abstract This paper describes the development of the Flourishing Classroom System Observation Framework and Rubric, which provides a framework and practical approach to defining and describing multiple interconnected observable characteristics of a classroom system that individually and together can be targeted to cultivate collective flourishing within schools. Beginning with a working theoretical model based on existing literature, a three-round Delphi study was used to develop the framework and related rubric. In round 1, 35 experts answered open-ended questions regarding observable behaviours of collective wellbeing in the classroom. Analysis of responses resulted in a framework with five dimensions, each with three sub-dimensions. In round 2, 23 experts sorted and categorised statements that potentially described each of the 15 sub-dimensions. Analyses created definitions of each sub-dimension and statements describing how they manifest for teachers, students, and the class, along with a description of the learning environment for each dimension. In round 3, 18 experts reviewed the definitions and descriptions, resulting in a final 15-dimension framework with a related rubric of 45 descriptive statements. The resulting framework and rubric provide an organising structure to identify observable system elements that shape a flourishing classroom culture.
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    Belonging: a review of conceptual issues, an integrative framework, and directions for future research
    Allen, K-A ; Kern, ML ; Rozek, CS ; McInerney, DM ; Slavich, GM (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2021-03-06)
    OBJECTIVE: A sense of belonging-the subjective feeling of deep connection with social groups, physical places, and individual and collective experiences-is a fundamental human need that predicts numerous mental, physical, social, economic, and behavioural outcomes. However, varying perspectives on how belonging should be conceptualised, assessed, and cultivated has hampered much-needed progress on this timely and important topic. To address these critical issues, we conducted a narrative review that summarizes existing perspectives on belonging, describes a new integrative framework for understanding and studying belonging, and identifies several key avenues for future research and practice. METHOD: We searched relevant databases, including Google Scholar, PubMed, Scopus, PsycInfo, and ClinicalTrials.gov, for articles describing belonging, instruments for assessing belonging, and interventions for increasing belonging. RESULTS: By identifying the core components of belonging, we introduce a new integrative framework for understanding, assessing, and cultivating belonging that focuses on four interrelated components: competencies, opportunities, motivations, and perceptions. CONCLUSION: This integrative framework enhances our understanding of the basic nature and features of belonging, provides a foundation for future interdisciplinary research on belonging and belongingness, and highlights how a robust sense of belonging may be cultivated to improve human health and resilience for individuals and communities worldwide.
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    The VIVA Sustainable Work Engagement Model: A Conceptual Introduction and Preliminary Test Over Three Years
    Ignjatovic, C ; Kern, ML ; Oades, LG (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-08)
    Abstract Vital engagement has been described as a focused, meaningful, and active relationship with work across one’s lifetime (Nakamura, 2001, 2014). Theoretically, vital engagement goes beyond short-term interest and engagement in one’s work, representing instead an ongoing, homeostatic sense of engagement that sustainably occurs across years and decades. However, it is unclear how vital engagement manifests in the modern workplace. In the footsteps of Nakamura (2014), we present the VIVA model, which conceptualizes sustainable work engagement as comprised of four mutually reinforcing elements: virtue, involvement, vitality, and acceptance. We first describe the rationale and conceptual underpinnings of the model. Then, we provide a preliminary empirical test of the model using archival data collected from a panel of school staff (N = 327) assessed five times over a three year period. Based on available data, the VIVA domains were operationalized as strengths use, work-related flow experiences, subjective vitality, and a sense of meaning in life. Using structural equation modelling, results provided preliminary support for the hypothesized model, which was relatively stable over time despite changes and challenges occurring in the school. The construct was strongly correlated with but distinct from other wellbeing measures. Although additional testing with measures that specifically align with the four theoretical dimensions is needed, the results support the relevance of the VIVA model in defining specific domains that can be supported in the workplace to help employees sustainably thrive.
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    Introduction and Overview
    Kern, ML ; Wehmeyer, ML ; Scull, J ; Raban, B (Springer International Publishing, 2021)
    Abstract Over the past decade, the positive education movement has grown, with the rapid increase of research, curricula, programs, and approaches to supporting wellbeing within educational communities. We introduce positive education, unpacking the positive perspective, considering how positive education emerged from this perspective, and discussing the implications moving forward. We then provide an overview of the chapters within this Handbook. Aligned with the valuing of open dialogue and diverse perspectives, authors provide various definitions of, perspectives around, and approaches to positive education. The Handbook attempts to give light to the plurality of models and perspectives, highlights high-quality research and research-to-practice efforts, incorporates a broad range of topics, and includes international and multi-disciplinary approaches. As a whole, the Handbook aims to support collective efforts to create and shape educational environments that allow all members of our educational communities to thrive, both now and for future generations.
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    Flourishing Classrooms: Applying a Systems-Informed Approach to Positive Education
    Allison, L ; Waters, L ; Kern, ML (Springer, 2021-12)
    Although positive education has made significant progress towards fostering student wellbeing at the individual level through the application of positive psychology interventions, adopting a systems-informed perspective will support the field to also approach wellbeing at the classroom and collective levels. Arguably, this approach will promote a more widespread and sustained level of wellbeing in schools. The current conceptual paper focuses on how the classroom as a system can be used as a powerful context to create collective wellbeing. We define group-level flourishing, explain how a systems-informed perspective allows classrooms to create collective wellbeing, introduce the Flourishing Classroom Systems Model, and consider implications and applications of this model.
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    Identifying and Shifting Disempowering Paradigms for Families of Children With Disability Through a System Informed Positive Psychology Approach
    Mahmic, S ; Kern, ML ; Janson, A (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-12-23)
    Despite the emergence of socio-ecological, strength-based, and capacity-building approaches, care for children with disability remains primarily grounded in a deficit-based perspective. Diagnoses and interventions primarily focus on what children and families cannot do, rather than what might be possible, often undermining the competence, mental health, and functioning of both the children and their families. We first critically examine typical approaches to disability care for families of young children, describe the importance of a systems-informed positive psychology (SIPP) approach to care, and identify the existence of two dominant paradigms, disability is a disadvantage and experts know best. Then, we present a case study investigating families' experiences with these two paradigms and whether shifts to alternative perspectives could occur through participation in a SIPP-based program co-designed by professionals and families. Of program participants, nine parents and five early intervention professionals participated in two separate focus groups, and ten e-books were randomly selected for review. Thematic analysis of the e-books and focus group data identified two primary themes representing alternative perspectives that arose through the intervention: we will start with our strengths and we've got this. Participant comments indicated that they developed a greater sense of hope, empowerment, engagement, and wellbeing, enabled by embedding wellbeing concepts and practices in their routines and communications with their children. We suggest that benefits arose in part from the structure of the program and the development of wellbeing literacy in participants. While care needs to be taken in generalizing the results, the case study provides clear examples of shifts in perspectives that occurred and suggests that the incorporation of SIPP principles within early intervention approaches provides a potential pathway for shifting the problematic paradigms that dominate disability care.
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    A qualitative exploration of individual differences in wellbeing for highly sensitive individuals
    Black, BA ; Kern, ML (PALGRAVE MACMILLAN LTD, 2020-06-02)
    Abstract Cultures explicitly and implicitly create and reinforce social norms and expectations, which impact upon how individuals make sense of and experience their place within that culture. Numerous studies find substantial differences across a range of behavioral and cognitive indices between what have been called “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD)” societies and non-WEIRD cultures. Indeed, lay conceptions and social norms around wellbeing tend to emphasize social outgoingness and high-arousal positive emotions, with introversion and negative emotion looked down upon or even pathologized. However, this extravert-centric conception of wellbeing does not fit many individuals who live within WEIRD societies, and studies find that this mismatch can have detrimental effects on their wellbeing. There is a need to better understand how wellbeing is created and experienced by the large number of people for whom wellbeing manifests in alternative ways. This study investigated one such manifestation—the personality trait of sensory processing sensitivity (SPS)—qualitatively investigating how sensitive individuals experience and cultivate wellbeing within a WEIRD society. Twelve adults participated in semi-structured interviews. Findings suggest that highly sensitive individuals perceive that wellbeing arises from harmony across multiple dimensions. Interviewees emphasized the value of low-intensity positive emotion, self-awareness, self-acceptance, positive social relationships balanced by times of solitude, connecting with nature, contemplative practices, emotional self-regulation, practicing self-compassion, having a sense of meaning, and hope/optimism. Barriers of wellbeing included physical health issues and challenges with saying no to others. This study provides a rich idiographic representation of SPS wellbeing, highlighting diverse pathways, which can lead to wellbeing for individuals for whom wellbeing manifests in ways that contradict the broader social narratives in which they reside.
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    Living in the Past, Present, and Future: Measuring Temporal Orientation with Language.
    Park, G ; Schwartz, HA ; Sap, M ; Kern, ML ; Weingarten, E ; Eichstaedt, JC ; Berger, J ; Stillwell, DJ ; Kosinski, M ; Ungar, LH ; Seligman, ME (Wiley, 2016)
    Temporal orientation refers to individual differences in the relative emphasis one places on the past, present, or future, and is related to academic, financial, and health outcomes. We propose and evaluate a method for automatically measuring temporal orientation through language expressed on social media. METHOD: Judges rated the temporal orientation of 4,302 social media messages. We trained a classifier based on these ratings, which could accurately predict the temporal orientation of new messages in a separate validation set (accuracy/mean sensitivity = .72; mean specificity = .77). We used the classifier to automatically classify 1.3 million messages written by 5,372 participants (50% female, aged 13-48). Finally, we tested whether individual differences in past, present, and future orientation differentially related to gender, age, Big Five personality, satisfaction with life, and depressive symptoms. RESULTS: Temporal orientations exhibit several expected correlations with age, gender, and Big Five personality. More future-oriented people were older, more likely to be female, more conscientious, less impulsive, less depressed, and more satisfied with life; present orientation showed the opposite pattern. CONCLUSION: Language-based assessments can complement and extend existing measures of temporal orientation, providing an alternative approach and additional insights into language and personality relationships.
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    Systems Informed Positive Education
    Kern, ML ; Taylor, JA ; Kern, ML ; Wehmeyer, ML (Springer International Publishing, 2021)
    Abstract Positive psychology as a discipline has focused primarily on understanding and building individual wellbeing. But the application of positive psychology within schools brings a number of challenges that transcend simplistic approaches. Schools are dynamic in nature and subject to numerous pressures and competing priorities. Positive psychology interventions can be helpful, some of the time, for some people, but there is a need to identify and transcend the limiting paradigms that drive our research, practices, and beliefs, moving beyond simplistic interventions and programs to broader awareness and mindful action. Systems Informed Positive Education (SIPE) explicitly incorporates aspects of the systems sciences into positive education practice and pedagogy to cultivate optimal learning environments that bring out the best in each individual and of the school community as a whole. This chapter describes SIPE, illustrates SIPE in action, and highlights key principles and their implications for embedding wellbeing at the heart of education.