A character strength intervention in 11 inclusive Finnish classrooms to promote social participation of students with special educational needs

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Abstract

Positive education aims at making strengths visible in every learner. This paper presents one of the few structured positive education interventions in Finnish inclusive classrooms. Our controlled 16‐week intervention in 11 inclusive classes (from 4th to 6th graders, age 10–13 years, Ninterv = 175 including 17 students with SEN having a variety of learning challenges, Ncontr = 78) focused on explicit teaching of strengths in character and their usage in order to promote social skills, well‐being and learning skills. Seven quantitative self‐report measures, Social competence (Empathy and Anti‐Aggression subscales), Strength usage, Grit (Consistency of Interest and Perseverance of Effort subscales), Global happiness, School‐related happiness, Schoolwork Engagement Inventory (EDA, energy, dedication, absorption) and Mindset comprised the students’ pre‐test–post‐test battery. In addition, seven teachers were interviewed. The intervention group of students with SEN advanced over the other groups in Grit Consistency of interest subscale and in EDA. In teacher interviews, increased group cohesion and classroom spirit were documented. Interviews revealed six dominant discourses, praise, well‐being, good interaction, the significance of encounters, the need for additional education and the discourse of doubt and challenges. In particular, being able to name strengths in others and support one another had grown during the intervention.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Research in Special Educational Needs
Volume19
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)45-57
Number of pages13
ISSN1471-3802
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences
  • social participation
  • character strengths
  • positive education
  • students with SEN

Cite this

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title = "A character strength intervention in 11 inclusive Finnish classrooms to promote social participation of students with special educational needs",
abstract = "Positive education aims at making strengths visible in every learner. This paper presents one of the few structured positive education interventions in Finnish inclusive classrooms. Our controlled 16‐week intervention in 11 inclusive classes (from 4th to 6th graders, age 10–13 years, Ninterv = 175 including 17 students with SEN having a variety of learning challenges, Ncontr = 78) focused on explicit teaching of strengths in character and their usage in order to promote social skills, well‐being and learning skills. Seven quantitative self‐report measures, Social competence (Empathy and Anti‐Aggression subscales), Strength usage, Grit (Consistency of Interest and Perseverance of Effort subscales), Global happiness, School‐related happiness, Schoolwork Engagement Inventory (EDA, energy, dedication, absorption) and Mindset comprised the students’ pre‐test–post‐test battery. In addition, seven teachers were interviewed. The intervention group of students with SEN advanced over the other groups in Grit Consistency of interest subscale and in EDA. In teacher interviews, increased group cohesion and classroom spirit were documented. Interviews revealed six dominant discourses, praise, well‐being, good interaction, the significance of encounters, the need for additional education and the discourse of doubt and challenges. In particular, being able to name strengths in others and support one another had grown during the intervention.",
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author = "Kaisa Vuorinen and Anne Erikivi and Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara",
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N2 - Positive education aims at making strengths visible in every learner. This paper presents one of the few structured positive education interventions in Finnish inclusive classrooms. Our controlled 16‐week intervention in 11 inclusive classes (from 4th to 6th graders, age 10–13 years, Ninterv = 175 including 17 students with SEN having a variety of learning challenges, Ncontr = 78) focused on explicit teaching of strengths in character and their usage in order to promote social skills, well‐being and learning skills. Seven quantitative self‐report measures, Social competence (Empathy and Anti‐Aggression subscales), Strength usage, Grit (Consistency of Interest and Perseverance of Effort subscales), Global happiness, School‐related happiness, Schoolwork Engagement Inventory (EDA, energy, dedication, absorption) and Mindset comprised the students’ pre‐test–post‐test battery. In addition, seven teachers were interviewed. The intervention group of students with SEN advanced over the other groups in Grit Consistency of interest subscale and in EDA. In teacher interviews, increased group cohesion and classroom spirit were documented. Interviews revealed six dominant discourses, praise, well‐being, good interaction, the significance of encounters, the need for additional education and the discourse of doubt and challenges. In particular, being able to name strengths in others and support one another had grown during the intervention.

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