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A Paradigm Shift: Integration of Positive Psychology into the Schools and Implications for Assessment Sarah Napolitan, Ed.S., NCSP Bensalem Township School.

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Presentation on theme: "A Paradigm Shift: Integration of Positive Psychology into the Schools and Implications for Assessment Sarah Napolitan, Ed.S., NCSP Bensalem Township School."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Paradigm Shift: Integration of Positive Psychology into the Schools and Implications for Assessment Sarah Napolitan, Ed.S., NCSP Bensalem Township School District Indiana University of Pennsylvania

2 Overview The Medical Model Positive Psychology
History, Origin, and Shortcomings Positive Psychology Beneficiaries Resilience/Developmental Assets Positive Psychological Approaches to Assessment Specific assessments, measures, tests, scales Positive Psychological Approaches to the Psychoeducational Evaluation Application to Intervention Conclusions

3 A Brief History Prior to WWII Post WWII Development of three goals
Cure mental illness Make the lives of all people more fulfilling Enhance and identify human excellence Post WWII Focus of psychology shifted Enter the medical model IQ Mental health (Terjesen, Jacofsky, Froh & DiGuiseppe, 2004)

4 The Medical Model Physical, mental, academic, social, etc.
Primary foundation Pathology, deficit, abnormal Physical, mental, academic, social, etc. Treatment, therapy, programming Alleviate deficits, restore normalcy

5 Concerns Surrounding this Model
Issues with the Medical Model Reach and applicability to diverse groups in need Effectiveness with longstanding ‘dysfunction’ (Cowen & Kilmer, 2002) Positive aspects of existence overlooked subjective well-being happiness quality of life positive emotion (Chaufouleas & Bray, 2004).

6 School Psychology and the Medical Model
Most function within this model Focus on identifying deficits within children to make placement decisions and/or for service delivery identification of a deficit or pathology will guide treatment Cognitive tests, achievement tests, and behavioral scales primarily used as instruments deigned to pinpoint the extent to which a student is exhibiting a deficit

7 “Prescribing” to the Deficit
When a student is ‘prescribed’ a treatment according to their deficit Directly related to a struggle (reading or math) Can experience significant frustration and a decrease in their self-confidence Drop Out Rate 31% of students classified as having SLD, 29% of students with Mental Retardation, and 56% of students with an Emotional Disturbance (U.S. Department of Education, 2005).

8 The Birth of Positive Psychology
Search for empirically supported research Documenting the positive effects of a variety of strengths Act as buffers against what psychologists have been studying for so long (mental illness, anxiety, etc.) optimism interpersonal skills faith work ethic hope honesty perseverance insight creativity future-mindedness (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).

9 Positive Psychology Components
Positive personal traits that contribute to a positive life experience Implications for mental and physical health The fostering of excellence (including giftedness) Well-being Development of positivity Neuroscience and heritability Enjoyment and pleasure Authenticity Buffering These areas encompass the positive aspects of human existence being further examined to determine their benefits how they can be fostered in people to help children and adults

10 Positive Psychology and School Psychology
Not a new concept (2000 APA) Consultation Strengths-based approaches Resiliency

11 Positive Psychology and School Psychology,
Who Benefits?

12 Positive Psychology and School Psychology: At-risk Youth
Chen (1993) Children at-risk for school failure reported to have positive experiences of being effective and productive when working in their areas of strength Gardner- Harvard promoting a likely increase of their own feelings of satisfaction and self-worth

13 Had the assessment been limited to these two areas (reading and math), these children’s strengths would have gone undetected and could not have served as a bridge for extending interest and involvement to other areas of the curriculum (Chen, 1993).

14 Positive Psychology and School Psychology: Cultural Implications
School psychologists with more multicultural expertise think from a strengths perspective rather than diagnostically Strict separation of church and state when working with children and families, despite the fact that spirituality and faith may be a primary source of support for that family/child (Jones 2008).

15 “By learning about and exploring strengths within a given culture, the school psychologist learns what supports are currently working, who is involved with providing that support, and how to facilitate growth within that culture and the support network (Jones, 2008, p.1779)”

16 Positive Psychology and School Psychology: Urban School Psychology
Strengths-based approach students have inherent strengths strengths may not coincide with the belief systems that traditionally spring from middle-class values

17 Urban School Psychology
When working with at-risk youth in urban settings Practitioners reportedly focus “only on the negatives” (Miranda & Olivo, 2008, p.1184) Difficult to see positive aspects that a student exhibits May inhibit the identification of a solution (Miranda & Olivo, 2008).

18 Positive Programming: Resiliency and the Developmental Assets

19 Competence Development and Resiliency
Directly related to certain competencies that serve as buffers to protect students from stress Important that school psychologists pay attention and utilize what positive psychology has found in these areas (positive assessments) Enhancing personal competencies and protective factors across multiple environments is necessary to foster resiliency in whole populations of children and youth (Clonan, Chafouleas, McDougal, & Riley-Tillman, 2004)

20 Developmental Assets Programming
Programs for at-risk students aimed at prevention which utilize developmental assets and resiliency building with at-risk students yield promising results (Edwards, Mumford, Shillingford, & Serra-Rodan, 2007) Using these internal and external developmental assets to build resiliency has been shown to be an effective preventative program for at-risk students (Morrison, Brown, D’Incau, O’Farrell, & Furlong, 2006)

21 Programs to Foster Resilience
Positive Behavioral Intervention Support (PBIS) Skillstreaming Penn Resiliency Program Group intervention for late elementary and middle school students Teaches cognitive-behavioral and social problem-solving skills and is based in part on cognitive-behavioral theories of depression by Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis, and Martin Seligman Olweus Bullying Program Promote social norms that are positive Skillbuilding, structuring and integration of school and family efforts Fishful Thinking (new!) Helping parents foster resilience, optimism and support in their children

22 Positive Psychological Approaches to Assessment for School Psychologists

23 Why Positive Assessment?
Developmental assets, resiliency factors, specific personality characteristics, and motivation levels facilitate and enhance happiness, physical health, mental health, and academic performance (Post, 2005; Gomez & Mei-Mei, 2006; Park & Peterson, 2003; Gillham, Gallop, & Seligman, 2007; Cox, 2006)

24 Applicability to the Field
Reliable and valid instruments to assess these attributes Direct linkages to interventions tailored to strength-building, strength enhancement application of these strengths in the academic setting.

25 Positive Psychological Assessments: Strengths

26 Assessment of Happiness
Authentic Happiness Index (AHI) Contains 24 items Homework assignments, child can complete individually to increase Good reliability and validity Shown to increase a person’s level of happiness Online ( and free (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005)

27 Strength Assessment VIA Signature Strength Survey for Children
180-item assessment yields upwards of 24 different strengths in order of prevalence for the child Good reliability and validity School psychologists could use the VIA for children and encourage strength usage Guide to empower children Strength recognition (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005)

28 Assessment of Perceived Life Quality
PQOL Scale Good reliability and validity Allow school psychologists to see how the student views their own classroom and life experience Able to determine what variables need altered for best fostering of positive behavior (Huebner, Suldo, Smith, & McKnight, 2004)

29 Linking Assessment to Intervention
Gain insight concerning how a student perceives his or her own life implement interventions based on the results Interventions have been found which could possibly increase a child's PQOL strengthening family and peer supports through parent consultation and social skills training increased involvement in meaningful and structured activities (increased flow) improvement in problem-solving skills aim to enhance the fit between the student and their environment. properly mediate behavior and environmental influences (Huebner, et. al., 2004).

30 Positive Psychological Assessments: Personality

31 Assessment of Hopefulness
Children's Hope Scale (CHS) Identifies children who exhibit high hope levels (ages 8-16) Good reliability and validity These children can serve as models for other children who may benefit from more hopeful thinking (Terjesen, et. al., 2004). Peer thinking programs to enhance positive thought?

32 Attributional Style Seligman's Children's Attributional Style Questionnaire (1995) sample not available For students ages 8-13 includes 48 items divided equally between positive (‘You get an ‘‘A’’ on a test’) and negative events (‘You break a glass’) Each option represents the presence or absence of one attribution dimension (for example, an internal or external cause) Child believes events to be caused primarily by internal or external factors and gives insight into a child's locus of control Good reliability and validity Can request a sample for nonprofit research

33 Curiosity and Exploration
The Curiosity and Exploration Inventory (CEI) self-report instrument individual differences in the recognition, pursuit, and integration of novel and challenging experiences and information shows moderately large positive relationships with intrinsic motivation, reward sensitivity, openness to experience, and subjective vitality School psychologists may use this assessment in order to simultaneously examine motivation, positive affect, and sensitivity to rewards that can help guide interventions for motivation increase and reward appropriateness (Kashdan, Rose & Fincham, in press)

34 Linking Assessment to Intervention
Add attributional style to intervention design in order to enhance locus of control or take into consideration when implementing interventions Incorporating assessment results and providing specific goals for the child within the IEP

35 What about the deficits?
School psychologists and educators will be addressing and reinforcing student strengths, and thereby indirectly addressing student weaknesses (Terjesen, et. al., 2004). School psychologists are asking a different question, yet still providing an answer

36 Positive Assessment: School Success and School Environment

37 Assessment of School Success
School Success Profile (SSP) (Bowen, Woolley, Richman, & Bowen, 2001) junior high and high school students Elementary School Success Profile (ESSP) Grade 3-5 (Bowen, 2006)

38 Assessment of School Success
Measures the social environmental domains of neighborhood, school, friends, and family and collecting data from multiple sources, including parents, teachers, and children Assesses student well-being, behavior, and school performance. Free corresponding web site (www. with links to evidence based interventions Good reliability and validity

39 Positive Assessment of School Environment
Assessing a students’ perceived quality of school life Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (MSLSS) Emphasizing what teacher is doing correctly Showing the particular school consistent strengths that are found within multiple students’ self-reports (MSLSS; Huebner, 1994)

40 Positive Assessment of School Environment
Patterns of strengths and weaknesses allow school psychologists to identify supports already in place within the instructional environment help teachers and districts maintain a positive perspective on their performance while still drawing attention to areas of need (MSLSS; Huebner, 1994)

41 Positive Approaches to the Psychoeducational Evaluation Process

42 Positive Psychology and the Psychoeducational Evaluation (Gleason, 2007)
Observations observing the student holistically interpretations grounded in context noticing what the child can do rather than what he or she cannot do studying the events and contextual conditions that occur during the "best" times using quantitative measures that focus on strengths and identifying potential next steps What motivates this student?

43 Positive Psychology and the Psychoeducational Evaluation (Gleason, 2007)
Parent/Teacher Interviews asking parents what their child responds best to what tribulations their child may have overcome inquiring as to their child’s specific strengths “What classroom tasks does this child enjoy? What have you done that helps this student the most?” set the stage for outlining a students’ strengths and incorporating similar activities or instructional strategies into a child’s SDI/goals

44 Positive Psychology and the Psychoeducational Evaluation (Gleason, 2007)
Student Interviews Student interviews can involve their own perception of their strengths, desires, and dreams A vocational assessment (SDS) is especially appropriate to glean more information pertaining to career development in terms of strengths and interests

45 Positive Psychology and the Psychoeducational Evaluation (Gleason, 2007)
Adaptive Measures/Behavioral Scales Behavioral Assessment System for Children-Second Edition (BASC-II) or the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System (ABAS) point out relative strengths and utilize those strengths in program development provide a source of hope and enjoyment for a student within their education

46 Positive Psychology and the Psychoeducational Evaluation (Gleason, 2007)
Feedback/MDE strengths should always be reported to teachers and parents MDE/IEP meetings can include creative brainstorming of interventions to match student strengths example, if John is close to his uncle and loves animals but is struggling in reading, have John read books about animals with his uncle

47 Application to Intervention
Protective Factor/ Strength Risk Factor/ Need Positive Linkage to Intervention Parent reports child loves to be around/work with younger children Child is highly disruptive during art class Arrange for child to be helper/co-teacher for kindergarten art class 1-2 times/week

48 Application to Intervention
Protective Factor/ Strength Risk Factor/ Need Positive Linkage to Intervention Child loves to create things and put things together Child cannot follow classroom routine Put daily routine in puzzle form, have child cut it out and put it together for the class

49 Application to Intervention
Protective Factor/ Strength Risk Factor/ Need Positive Linkage to Intervention Student had very high “A” score on SDS Student is having trouble knowing when assignments are due Have student create their own calendar in art class and insert homework assignments

50 Conclusion Majority of scales, questionnaires, and assessments have good test-retest reliability and validity many have not been applied directly to an academic setting have not been used for programming or intervention leaving much room for more research and exploration. Medical Model presents problems which could be alleviated- or at least balanced- by this new and hopeful methodology

51 Conclusion Assessments outlined alter instructional environment
provide “jumping off” points for building developmental assets and resiliency incorporate preventative measures for students who are identified as at-risk assess the instructional environment in a way that is less threatening to teachers and schools

52 Conclusion Positive assessment has the potential to help school psychologists provide hope, support, and appropriate interventions to students, parents, and schools manner consistent with all of the goals of psychology without a sole focus on deficits

53 References Akin-Little, K.A., Little, S.G., & Deligatti, N. (2004). A preventative model of school consultation: Incorporating perspectives from positive psychology. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), Bowen, G. L.,Woolley, M. E., Richman,J. M., & Bowen, N. K. (2001). Brief intervention in schools: The School Success Profile. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 1, Bowen, N. K. (2006). Psychometric properties of the Elementary School Success Profile for children. Social Work Research, 30, 51-6. Buchanan, G. and Seligman, M.E.P. (Eds.). (1995). Explanatory Style. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum. Chen, J.Q. (1993). Building on children’s strengths: Project spectrum intervention program for students at risk for school failure. Paper presented at the biennial conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, New Orleans, LA. Taken from: Falanagan, D.P. & Harrison, P.L. (eds). Contemporary Intellectual Assessment: Theories, Tests, and Issues (Second Edition). New York: The Guilford Press. Chaufouleas, S. M. & Bray, M.A. (2004). Introducing positive psychology: Finding a place within school psychology. Psychology In The Schools, 41(1), 1-5. Clonan, S.M., Chafouleas, S.M., McDougal, J.L., & Riley-Tillman, T.C. (2004). Positive psychology goes to school: Are we there yet? Psychology in the Schools, 41(1),

54 References Cowen, E.L. & Kilmer, R.P. (2002). Positive psychology: Some plusses and some open issues. Journal of Community Psychology, 30(4), Cox, K.F. (2006). Investigating the impact of strength-based assessment on youth with emotional or behavioral disorders. Journal of Child and Family Studies (15) 3, Diener, E., Suh, E.M., Lucas, R.E., & Smith, H.L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, Edwards, O.W., Mumford, V.E., Shillingford, M.A., & Serra-Roldan, R. (2007). Developmental assets: A Prevention framework for children considered at-risk. Children and Schools, 29(3), Gillham, J.E., Gallop, R., & Seligman, M.E. (2007). School-based prevention of depressive symptoms: A randomized controlled study of the effectiveness and specificity of the Penn Resiliency Program. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75(1), 9-19. Gleason, E.T. (2007). A strengths-based approach to the social development study. Children and Schools, 29(1), Gomez, B.J., & Mei-Mei Ang, J. (2006). Promoting positive youth development in schools. Theory into Practice, 46(2),

55 References Huebner, E. S. (1994). Preliminary development and validation of a multidimensional life satisfaction scale for children. Psychological Assessment, 6, 149–158. Huebner, E.S., Suldo, S.M., Smith, L.C., & McKnight, C.G. (2004). Life satisfaction in children and youth: Empirical foundations and implications for school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), Huppert, F.A. (2004). A population approach to positive psychology: The potential for population interventions to promote well-being and prevent disorder. In P. Alex Linley and S. Joseph's (Editors) Positive Psychology in Practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Jones, J. (2008). Best practices in multicultural counseling. From: Thomas, A. & Grimes, J. (Eds). (2008). Best Practices in School Psychology, Volume V. The National Association of School Psychologists: Bethesda, MD. Kashdan, T.B., Rose, P., & Fincham, F.D. (in press). Curiosity and Exploration: Facilitating positive subjective experiences and personal growth opportunities. Journal of Personality Assessment. Miranda, & Olivo (2008). Best practice in urban school psychology. From: Thomas, A. & Grimes, J. (Eds). (2008). Best Practices in School Psychology, Volume V. The National Morrison, G.M., Brown, M., D’Incau, B., O’Farrell, S.L. & Furlong, M.J. (2006). Understanding resilience in educational trajectories: Implications for protective possibilities. Psychology in the Schools, 43(1),

56 References Park, N, & Peterson, C. (2003). Early intervention from the perspective of positive psychology. Prevention and Treatment, 6(35), 1-8. Post, S.G. (2005). Altruism and health: It’s good to be good. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12, (2), 66–77. Scheier, M. F. & Carver, C.S. (1985). Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies. Health Psychology, 4, 219- 247. Search Institute. (2006). What are developmental assets? Retrieved June 21st, 2008, from Seligman, M.E.P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5-14. Seligman, M.E.P., Parks, A.C., & Steen, T. (2004). A balanced psychology and a full life. The Royal Society, 359,

57 References Seligman, M.E.P., Steen, T.A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), Terjesen, M. D., Jacofsky, M., Froh, J., & DiGiuseppe, R. (2004). Integrating positive psychology into schools: Implications for practice. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), U.S. Department of Education. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs. Twenty-seventh annual (2005) report to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Vol 1, Washington, D.C., 2007. Wallis, C. (January 17th, 2005). The new science of happiness. Time, A3-A9.

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