Capella University Positive schooling or education


Question Description

Positive schooling or education is important at primary, secondary, and post-secondary educational levels. Research has identified a number of components central to a positive educational experience. Discuss some of these factors and their relevance to positive schooling.

  • What are several of the major components of positive schooling, and how do they contribute to a positive educational outcome?
  • What research supports the notion that the quality of teachers is crucial for better learning outcomes?
  • Could teachers be replaced with artificial intelligence programs in computers and still provide the same benefits of a traditional high-quality education? Why or why not?

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Standing at the front of a small lecture hall, Ed Diener, University of Illinois psychologist and world-renowned happiness researcher, held up a real brain in a jar with a blue liquid, which he called “joy juice,” trickling into it from a small plastic pouch held above. He asked the audience to pretend that their brains could be treated with a hormone (i.e., joy juice) that would make them ecstatically happy and that they could be happy all the time. Then he asked the crucial question, “How many people in this room would want to do this?” Of the 60 audience members, only 2 raised their hands to signify their desires for perpetual happiness. Given that I (SJL) had had little exposure to philosophy coursework and that my undergraduate and graduate training in psychology had not exposed me to the science of happiness, I hadn’t thought much about happiness in its many forms. Dr. Diener’s question intrigued me, and since attending his lecture in 1999, I have attempted to develop a better understanding of the positive side of the emotional experience; this has led me to the solid research I summarize here. In this chapter, we attempt to add to what you know about pleasure by going far beyond Freud’s (1936) pleasure principle (the demand that an instinctive need be gratified regardless of the consequences) and by fostering an understanding of the many principles of pleasure that have been linked to good living. In this process, we present what we know about that which makes modern life pleasurable. We also summarize research that examines the distinctions between positive and negative affect. Likewise, we highlight positive emotions and their pleasure-expanding benefits, and we explore the many definitions of happiness and well-being, qualities of pleasurable living. To begin, we clarify the numerous terms and concepts used in this chapter. Defining Emotional Terms The terms affect and emotion often are used interchangeably in scholarly and popular literatures. Furthermore, well-being and happiness appear to be synonymous in psychology articles. Unfortunately, however, the interchangeable use of these terms is very confusing. Although we try to clarify the distinctions among these closely related ideas, we acknowledge the overlap that exists. We begin by suggesting that affect is a component of emotion, and emotion is a more specific version of mood. Ed Diener Source: Reprinted with permission of Ed Diener. Affect Affect is a person’s immediate, physiological response to a stimulus, and it is typically based on an underlying sense of arousal. Specifically, Professor Nico Frijda (1999) reasoned that affect involves the appraisal of an event as painful or pleasurable—that is, its valence—and the experience of autonomic arousal. Emotion Parsimonious definitions of emotion are hard to find, but this one seems to describe the phenomenon succinctly: “Emotions, I shall argue, involve judgments about important things, judgments in which, appraising an external object as salient for our own well-being, we acknowledge our own neediness and incompleteness before parts of the world that we do not fully control” (Nussbaum, 2001, p. 19). These emotional responses occur as we become aware of painful or pleasurable experiences and associated autonomic arousal (i.e., affect; Frijda, 1999) and evaluate the situation. An emotion has a specific and “sharpened” quality, as it always has an object (Cohn & Fredrickson, 2009), and it is associated with progress in goal pursuit (Snyder et al., 1991; Snyder, 1994). In contrast, a mood is objectless, free floating, and long lasting. Happiness Happiness is a positive emotional state that is subjectively defined by each person. The term is rarely used in scientific studies because there is little consensus on its meaning. In this chapter, we use this term only when it is clarified by additional information. Subjective Well-Being Subjective well-being involves the subjective evaluation of one’s current status in the world. More specifically, Diener (1984, 2000, 2013; Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2009) defines subjective well-being as a combination of positive affect (in the absence of negative affect) and general life satisfaction (i.e., subjective appreciation of life’s rewards). The term subjective well-being often is used as a synonym for happiness in the psychology literature. Almost without exception, the more accessible word happiness is used in the popular press in lieu of the term subjective well-being. Distinguishing the Positive and the Negative Hans Selye (1936) is known for his research on the effects of prolonged exposure to fear and anger. Consistently, he found that physiological stress harmed the body yet had survival value for humans. Indeed, the evolutionary functions of fear and anger have intrigued both researchers and laypeople. Given the historical tradition and scientific findings pertaining to the negative affects, their importance in our lives has not been questioned over the last century. Historically, positive affects have received scant attention over the last century because few scholars hypothesized that the rewards of joy and contentment went beyond hedonic (pleasurebased) values and had possible evolutionary significance. The potentialities of positive affect have become more obvious over the last 20 years (Cohn & Fredrickson, 2009) as research has drawn distinctions between the positive and negative affects. David Watson Source: Reprinted with permission of David Watson. David Watson (1988) of the University of Iowa conducted research on the approach-oriented motivations of pleasurable affects—including rigorous studies of both negative and positive affects. To facilitate their research on the two dimensions of emotional experience, Watson and his collaborator Lee Anna Clark (1994) developed and validated the Expanded Form of the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS-X), which has become a commonly used measure in this area. This 20-item scale has been used in hundreds of studies to quantify two dimensions of affect: valence and content. More specifically, the PANAS-X taps both “negative” (unpleasant) and “positive” (pleasant) valence. The content of negative affective states can be described best as general distress, whereas positive affect includes joviality, self-assurance, and attentiveness. (See the PANAS, a predecessor of the PANAS-X, which is brief and valid for most clinical and research purposes.) Using the PANAS and other measures of affect, researchers systematically have addressed a basic question: “Can we experience negative affect and positive affect at the same time?” (See Diener & Emmons, 1984; Green, Salovey, & Truax, 1999.) For example, could we go to an engaging movie and come out feeling both pleasure and fear? Although negative and positive affects once were thought to be polar opposites, Bradburn (1969) demonstrated that unpleasant and pleasant affects are independent and have different correlates. Psychologists such as Watson (2002; Watson & Naragon, 2009) continue to examine this issue of independence in their research. In a recent study, Watson found that negative affect correlated with joviality, self-assurance, and attentiveness at only –.21, –.14, and –.17, respectively. The small magnitudes of these negative correlations suggest that, while negative and positive affect are inversely correlated in some groups as expected, the relationships are quite weak and indicative of independence of the two types of affect. The size of these relationships, however, may increase when people are taxed by daily stressors (Keyes & Ryff, 2000; Zautra, Potter, & Reich, 1997). This said, positive as opposed to inverse correlations are found between positive and negative affect in many Eastern groups, namely in Asian samples (Spencer-Rodgers, Peng, & Wang, 2010). This ability to feel and think dialectically (i.e., in more than one direction, or from more than one point of view) about events in one’s life can be labeled a strength in Asian cultures. It may be that this emotional complexity allows Asians to have a greater level of social intelligence, which is of course beneficial in a collectivist society (Spencer-Rodgers et al., 2010). The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule This scale consists of a number of words that describe different feelings and emotions. Read each item and then mark the appropriate answer on the line provided. Indicate to what extent you feel this emotion right now. Use the following scale as you record your answers. Positive Emotions: Expanding the Repertoire of Pleasure As some psychologists refine the distinction between the positive and negative sides of the emotional experience through basic research and measurement, other scholars (e.g., Isen, Fredrickson) have begun to explore questions about the potency and potentialities of positive emotions. (Here we use the term emotion rather than affect because we are addressing the specific response tendencies that flow from affective experience.) Cornell University psychologist Alice Isen is a pioneer in the examination of positive emotions. Dr. Isen found that, when experiencing mild positive emotions, we are more likely (1) to help other people (Isen, 1987); (2) to be flexible in our thinking (Ashby, Isen, & Turken, 1999); (3) to come up with solutions to our problems (Isen, Daubman, & Nowicki, 1987); and (4) to be more willing to exhibit self-control (Pyone & Isen, 2011). In classic research related to these points, Isen (1970; Isen & Levin, 1972) performed an experimental manipulation in which the research participants either did or did not find coins (placed there by the researcher) in the change slot of a public pay phone. Compared to those who did not find a coin, those who did were more likely to help another person carry a load of books or to help pick up another’s dropped papers. Therefore, the finding of a coin and the associated positive emotion made people behave more altruistically. Alice Isen Source: Reprinted with permission of Alice Isen. Feeling positive emotion also can help in seeing problem-solving options and finding cues for good decision making (Estrada, Isen, & Young, 1997). In one study related to these latter points, the researchers randomly assigned physicians to an experimental condition in which the doctor either was or was not given a small bag that contained 6 hard candies and 4 miniature chocolates (the doctors were not allowed to eat the candy during the experiment). Those physicians who had, rather than had not, been given the gift of candy displayed superior reasoning and decision making relative to the physicians who did not receive the candy. Specifically, the doctors in the positive emotion condition did not jump to conclusions; they were cautious even though they arrived at the diagnosis sooner than the doctors in the other condition (A. Isen, personal communication, December 13, 2005). Perhaps, therefore, we should give our doctor some candy next time we see him or her! Here is a more detailed description of that study that led us to this lighthearted suggestion. (Although Dr. Isen uses the term affect, we believe emotion would be more appropriate here.) Forty-four physicians were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: a control group, an affect-induction group (these participants received a small package of candy), or a group that asked participants to read humanistic statements regarding the practice of medicine. Physicians in all three groups were asked to “think aloud” while they solved a case of a patient with liver disease. Transcripts of the physicians’ comments were typed, and two raters reviewed the transcripts to determine how soon the diagnosis of liver disease was considered and established, and the extent to which thinking was distorted or inflexible. The affect group initially considered the diagnosis of liver disease significantly earlier in the experiment and showed significantly less inflexible thinking than did controls. The affect and control groups established the diagnosis at similar points in the experiment. So positive affect led to the earlier integration of information (considered liver disease sooner) and resulted in little premature foreclosure on the diagnosis. Risk-taking may also be influenced by positive affect when the return on the risk is anticipated to be high (Xing & Sun, 2013). In another study, happier participants showed greater willingness to take greater financial risks for high returns. This process appears to be related to links between positive affect and the psychological resilience that high levels of this type of affect may build over time (Xing & Sun, 2013). Thus, it may be that the link between happiness and psychological resilience allows individuals who are high in both of these areas to be able to feel more comfortable taking risks in general. Risk-taking could, of course, lead to either a positive and negative outcome (e.g., one could lose money or gain money with a risky financial investment). That said, however, taking opportunities as they come could provide more benefits in the long term. In addition, even when crises occur, an individual with psychological resilience (as developed by increased positive affect experiences) may be better able to handle this type of circumstance (Xing & Sun, 2013). Building on Isen’s work, Fredrickson (2000) has developed a new theoretical framework, the broaden-and-build model of positive emotions, which may provide some explanations for the robust social and cognitive effects of positive emotional experiences. In Fredrickson’s review of models of emotions (Smith, 1991), she found that responses to positive emotions have not been extensively studied and that, when researched, they were examined in a vague and underspecified manner. Furthermore, action tendencies generally have been associated with physical reactions to negative emotions (imagine “fight or flight”), whereas human reactions to positive emotions often are more cognitive than physical. For these reasons, she proposes discarding the specific action tendency concept (which suggests a restricted range of possible behavioral options) in favor of a newer, more inclusive term, momentary thought– action repertoires (which suggest a broad range of behavioral options; imagine “taking off blinders” and seeing available opportunities). Barbara Fredrickson Source: Reprinted with permission of Jeff Chapell. To illustrate the difference in that which follows positive and negative emotions, consider the childhood experience of one of the authors (SJL). Notice how positive emotions (e.g., excitement and glee) lead to cognitive flexibility and creativity, whereas negative emotions (e.g., fear and anxiety) are linked to a fleeing response and termination of activities. During a Saturday visit to my grandmother’s home, I had the time of my life playing a marathon game of hide-and-seek with my brother and four cousins. The hours of play led to excitement and giggling . . . and the creation of new game rules and obstacles. The unbridled joy we experienced that afternoon made us feel free; we felt like that day would go on forever. Unfortunately, the fun was interrupted. The abrupt end to the game came when my cousin Bubby spotted me hiding behind the tall grasses on the back of my grandmother’s property. I darted out of my hiding place to escape from him. As I ran around the house, I veered off into the vacant lot next door. Laughing with glee, I ran as hard as I could. Suddenly, there was an obstacle in my path. I leaped over it as Bub screamed uncontrollably. As I turned around, I realized I had jumped over a four-foot water moccasin, a highly poisonous snake. As my cousin’s screaming continued, I grew increasingly jittery. Without thinking, we backed away from the snake . . . and then ran for our lives. When we finally stopped running, we could not catch our breaths. No one was hurt, but our fear and anxiety had taken the fun out of our day. In testing her model of positive emotions, Fredrickson (2000) demonstrated that the experience of joy expands the realm of what a person feels like doing at the time; this is referred to as the broadening of an individual’s momentary thought-action repertoire. Following an emotion-eliciting film clip (the clips induced one of five emotions: joy, contentment, anger, fear, or a neutral condition), research participants were asked to list everything they would like to do at that moment (see the results in Figure 6.1). Those participants who experienced joy or contentment listed significantly more desired possibilities than did the people in the neutral or negative conditions. In turn, those expanded possibilities for future activities should lead the joyful individuals to initiate subsequent actions. Those who expressed more negative emotions, on the other hand, tended to shut down their thinking about subsequent possible activities. Simply put, joy appears to open us up to many new thoughts and behaviors, whereas negative emotions dampen our ideas and actions. Figure 6.1 The Broadening Effects of Positive Emotions Source: Fredrickson (2002). Used with permission of Oxford University Press, Inc. Joy also increases our likelihood of behaving positively toward other people, along with aiding in developing more positive relationships. Furthermore, joy induces playfulness (Frijda, 1994), which is quite important because such behaviors are evolutionarily adaptive in acquisition of necessary resources. Juvenile play builds (1) enduring social and intellectual resources by encouraging attachment, (2) higher levels of creativity, and (3) brain development (Cohn & Fredrickson, 2009; Fredrickson, 2002). Playfulness is now also being studied in adults with more positive results. Young adults who are more playful have less perceived stress and are found to cope better with various stressors in their lives (Magnuson & Barnett, 2013). Other research has found that playfulness can be linked to greater life satisfaction (Proyer, 2012) and other positive attributes (Proyer & Ruch, 2011). It appears that, through the effects of broadening processes, positive emotions also can help build resources. In 2002, Fredrickson and her colleague, Thomas Joiner, demonstrated this building phenomenon by assessing people’s positive and negative emotions and broadminded coping (solving problems with creative means) on two occasions 5 weeks apart. The researchers found that initial levels of positive emotions predicted overall increases in creative problem solving. These changes in coping also predicted further increases in positive emotions (see Figure 6.2). Similarly, controlling for initial levels of positive emotion, initial levels of coping predicted increases in positive emotions, which in turn predicted increases in coping. These results held true only for positive emotions, not for negative emotions. Therefore, positive emotions such as joy may help generate resources; maintain a sense of vital energy (i.e., more positive emotions); and create even more resources. Cohn and Fredrickson (2009) referred to this positive sequence as the “upward spiral” of positive emotions (see Figure 6.3). Figure 6.2 The Building Effects of Positive Emotions Source: From Mayne, T. J., & Bonanno, G. A., Emotions. Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission of Guilford Press. Figure 6.3 The Upward Spiral of Positive Emotions Source: From Cohn, M. A., & Fredrickson, B. L., Positive emotions, in S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (pp. 13–24). Copyright © 2009. Reprinted with permission of Oxford University Press. Extending her model of positive emotions, Fredrickson and colleagues examined the “undoing” potential of positive emotions (Fredrickson, Mancuso, Branigan, & Tugade, 2000) an ...
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School: UIUC




Positive Schooling
Student’s Name
Institutional Affiliation



Positive Schooling
Positive schooling is built on trust, care, and respect for diversity. The teachers
construct student-specific goals to stimulate learning and develop strategies and plans to
motivate collaborative effort towards the goals.
Positive schooling components include goals, optimism, respect, and trust. Goals help
demonstrate how learning will benefit the learner. When a learner...

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