Date of Award

12-15-2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Scott Huebner

Second Advisor

Kimberly Hills

Abstract

Student well-being remains a relatively neglected topic despite its intimate link to positive school outcomes. As academic achievement is the yardstick of student success and school accountability, school-based mental health research and practice have focused primarily on the assessment and treatment of learning and behavioral problems. This shortterm longitudinal study sought to establish the role of student subjective well-being in academic achievement. Based on the engine model of well-being (Jayawickreme, Forgeard, & Seligman, 2012), the study focused on life satisfaction as a process variable and academic performance as an outcome variable. Using two waves (five months apart) of data, the study examined the reciprocal relation between life satisfaction and academic achievement, and how it may be shaped by positive and negative affective experiences in school, in a sample of 722 middle school students. Results revealed positive reciprocal causal relations between students’ life satisfaction and grade point averages, even when demographic covariates, positive and negative affect, and baseline values were controlled for. This study provides empirical support that student subjective well-being does not undermine academic achievement (or vice versa), but rather it is synergistic with better learning. Furthermore, results showed that the relations between students’ life satisfaction and grade point averages were moderated by negative, but not positive, affective experiences in school. These findings suggest that student subjective well-being should occupy a more prominent niche in the school agenda.

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