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What Research Says About Happiness & Student Achievement

Aug 31, 2020
happy student

What comes to mind when you think about the factors that contribute to student success? Parental involvement, effective teachers, teaching good study skills? All these qualities are beneficial for helping students achieve. But one trait that many do not often consider is student happiness.

There is growing evidence that reveals happy students get better grades. This is not to say that happiness is causing students to get better grades, but those who express greater life satisfaction are more likely to do better in school. Furthermore, it is possible that if a child is not happy, many of the efforts mentioned above will not help to foster student success. Below, we will explore what research says about how attention to young people's mental health can result in better outcomes for students.

The Link Between Happiness and Student Achievement

A few studies have been conducted to measure the impact of student happiness on achievement. The findings provide substantiation for schools to incorporate a focus on happiness, including the benefits for student performance.

Happiness Research

Below are some important highlights of three recent studies conducted with students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

High School Students: A study of 606 high school students found that happier students were able to get maximum benefits from their school experience. The results showed that students' subjective happiness was predictive of school performance across several measures. Happier students were more engaged, which expressed itself in their behavior in school as well as their feelings about school. More satisfied students were also more resilient, resulting in the ability to bounce back more readily in the face of academic difficulties.

Middle School Students: A positive relationship was found between happiness and higher grades. The study involving 821 middle school students revealed that happiness and achievement reinforce one another. Happier students received better grades in the future. And those who got better grades saw their happiness increase.

Grades K–12: This study assessed students from K – 12 and found that 'happiness is positively correlated with motivation and academic achievement.' Positive relationships between happiness and motivation, teacher/student relationships, higher GPAs, and school culture were uncovered. These findings can be used by schools and teachers to advance student achievement.

  • Motivation: Across all grades, happiness was positively associated with intrinsic motivation.
  • GPAs: There was a positive relationship between happiness and GPAs for students in grades 4–12.
  • Teacher/student relationships: Having supportive relationships with teachers and peers was a predictor of happiness.
  • School culture: Experiencing school as a comfortable and safe place also predicted happiness.

How Schools and Teachers Can Facilitate Happy Students

So, how can schools capitalize on these findings and help their students be happier and more successful? Through deliberate instruction and daily interactions between caring teachers and students, schools can implement cognitive strategies to increase happiness.

Mindshift: The Science of Happiness

Because Futures Academy is committed to equipping students with the tools needed for success, we have created a course called 'Mindshift: Science of Happiness'. The course incorporates research from positive psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and yes, happiness. The curriculum helps students gain control over their happiness by teaching cognitive strategies that improve emotion management and helps them understand how learning works. Some of the topics covered in the course are gratitude, self-care, and resilience. And evaluation measures are built into the course as students participate in weekly activities to improve happiness that allows them to track their progress.

Experience the difference that a personalized education can provide. The Mindshift: Science of Happiness, Mindshift: Science of Learning and Mindshift: Study Skills courses are available this fall. Happiness is a big part of what we do. As a matter of fact, it is one of the foundational pillars upon which learning occurs at Futures Academy. If you want to become more motivated, improve your GPA, and get better at managing school stress, contact us to learn how to become a part of our happy community.