Preliminary list of session contributors (TBC):

Ilona Boniwell
Ilona Boniwell
Positran, France
Short Bio CV Publications
Laure Reynaud
Laure Reynaud
Co-fondatrice de ScholaVie
Vice présidente de l'Institut pour la Recherche en Education Positive (IREP), France
Short Bio Profile
Manuela Berger
Manuela Berger
Trainer and Life Coach
Tom Gillson
Tom Gillson
Literacy Lecturer,
Short Bio

A brief description:

Over the past few years, the notion of a “positive intervention” has risen to prominence, as it was discovered that certain intentional actions can be effective in increasing and sustaining happiness and other positive states, as well as in reducing depression and anxiety in children and young people. Despite the evidence for their effectiveness, these interventions are not necessarily perceived as "sticky" by the actual end user, and it is often difficult to integrate these into daily functioning beyond the classroom environment. The session will focus on the emerging practice and evidence behind using more pragmatic tangible tools and facilitation methods in positive education to effectively communicate positive psychology concepts and solutions (including emotions, strengths, pp interventions, and best self representations) to child and teenage audiences.

Come prepared to play, build, manipulate and even stick!

Ilona Boniwell: Playing strengths and resilience
Manuela Berger: Developing children's emotional intelligence with Feeling Magnets
Laure Reynaud: Go Fish and learn positive psychology
Tom Gillson: Strickers: Building strengths through stickers


Sue Roffey
Sue Roffey
University of Exeter, UK
Western Sydney University, Australia
Short Bio Publications
Denise Quinlan
Denise Quinlan
New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience, New Zealand
Short Bio Website

Positive education programs and research have been established in schools and universities around the world. But how far have the benefits of positive education reached children in disadvantaged communities attending state-funded schools? To what extent are the practices of positive education effective when implemented in these communities? How can positive education make a difference for distressed, difficult and defiant students – and their teachers? What adaptations need to be made for diverse cultural contexts?

This session has two purposes: 1. to share how positive education is working in low SES and disadvantaged communities – successes, challenges, and advice for similar schools. 2. to consider how positive education can be more accessible and appropriate for these schools and communities.

Led by Dr Sue Roffey and Dr Denise Quinlan, this interactive workshop will feature brief headline presentations from the following presenters. This will be followed by a forum to share participant’s experiences and discuss how access to positive education can be spread more widely.


1. Implementation of whole school positive education in primary schools with low SES in Hong Kong
Dr Sylvia Kwok Lai Yuk Ching is Associate Professor, Positive Education Laboratory, City University of Hong Kong

Low SES schools in Hong Kong have students whose average monthly family income is below US1934. This project was in three schools with approximately 2,000 students aged from 6 to 12. With reference to the positive education framework of building character strengths, increasing positive emotions, relationships, engagement, accomplishment, and meaning of life we offered teacher training, parental education, student programs and a positive education curriculum to the schools. Research is being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the project by comparing results obtained from the teachers, parents and students in pre-test and post-test questionnaires.

2. Positive psychology with disadvantaged young children in diverse populations
Dr NIva Dolev is Head of Education and Family Division at the Kinneret Academic College on the Sea of Galilee, Tel Aviv, Israel

There is much agreement that cultivating positive psychology principles and practices has many benefits to children, and that the young age is the most suitable age. A positive psychology-based initiative took place with kindergarten children of diverse population (Arab and Jewish) with average and low socioeconomic backgrounds in Israel. The program and tools developed especially for it, together with and its impacts will be briefly presented.

3. Positive education program with multi-cultural special-needs high school students in Israel
Dr Dalia Alony is an experienced school psychologist and adjunct faculty member at the Ruppin Academic Center and Or Yehuda Academic Center

The Amal High School is a multicultural low SES public school, accepting students rejected by others because of their poor behaviour and low attainment. Over 50% were from families of new immigrants. A four year positive education program was established, emphasising strengths and establishing a social responsibility program. There has been significant improvement in school climate, matriculation passes have jumped from 14% to 53% and anti-social incidents reduced by 50%.


Bryndís Jóna Jónsdóttir
Bryndís Jóna Jónsdóttir
University of Iceland, Iceland
Short Bio
Nimrod Sheinman
Nimrod Sheinman
Israel's Center for Mindfulness in Education, Israel
Short Bio
Aviva Berkovich-Ohana
Aviva Berkovich-Ohana
University of Haifa, Israel
Short Bio Profile Publications

This Pre-Conference Pannel will examine how Mindfulness-based methods can be integrated into classes, school cultures, teachers' training and kindergartens. We'll explore and investigate up-to-date initiatives, models and outcomes. We'll provide important updates and discuss how to apply mindfulness and contribute to children's self-efficacy, resilience, mental health and wellness. Emphasis will be placed on the integration and application of mindfulness-based strategies to enrich children's life, and the implications for child psychologists, educators, teachers, parents, and teachers of teachers. We'll explore the synthesis between positive psychology, mindfulness, education and teaching for the 21th Century.


1 Being ‘Here and Now’: Mindfulness and Neuroscience
Aviva Berkovich-Ohana

The self is grossly divided by cognitive philosophers to the narrative-self and minimal-self. Narrative-self involves personal/autobiographical identity and continuity across time, it is conceptual and weaves together past memories and anticipated future to create a coherent self-image. In contrast, the minimal-self involves a momentary and ever-changing self, devoid of temporal extension, and grounded in the bodily experiences. The two notions of self-constitution find confirmation in neuroscience: It is widely accepted that the default mode network supports the narrative-self, while regions responsible for sensory integration and interoception are suggested to support the minimal-self. Based on the Buddhist philosophy stressing that meditation practice is aimed at direct realization of the illusory nature of the self, it can be argued that mindfulness training might reduce the function of networks supporting the narrative-self, in favor of networks supporting the momentary embodied-self. I will briefly present accumulating neuroscientific evidence supporting this notion, which shows a marked neuroplasticity in the networks supporting the two self-concepts, following meditative training. This bares educational importance for both teachers’ and students’ experience and well-being.

Aviva Berkovich-Ohana - Bio
A senior lecturer, affiliated at the University of Haifa, Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center, and Faculty of Education (Departments of Counseling and Human Development, as well as Learning, Instruction and Teacher Education). My training is mainly in the field of Neurobiology.
Research interests include physiological and neural effects of contemplative mental training, as well as the possible applications to the field of Education. To these ends, I utilize a broad spectrum of tools, including EEG, MEG, fMRI, and various behavioral and cognitive tasks.
Online profile page:

2 Implementing and Investigating School-based Mindfulness and Well-being Programs: Example of The Present Course for Primary Schools
Dusana Dorjee

Over the last 15 years we have seen enthusiastic interest from educators, researchers and policy makers in the potential of mindfulness-based programs delivered in schools in enhancing children’s well-being. However, most of the programs and research so far focused on older pre-adolescents or adolescents with evaluations targeting short-term effects.
This presentation will focus on the possibilities of sustainable incremental implementation of mindfulness and well-being programs across primary school years, using the example of The Present Course for Primary Schools developed for 3-11 years-old in North Wales (UK). The presentation will also outline our current studies examining the effects of the program and briefly describe possible long-term comprehensive evaluations of developmental changes resulting from mindfulness practice. Wider implications for teaching and research in developmental contemplative science will be discussed.

Dusana Dorjee - Bio
Dusana Dorjee, PhD is a cognitive neuroscientist, author, meditation practitioner and meditation teacher. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Science (with neuroscience focus) from the University of Arizona. Dusana also holds master's degrees in clinical psychology (Comenius University) and cognitive psychology/cognitive science (University of Arizona) and studied philosophy of mind and science at doctoral level. She leads a research lab where she investigates changes in the mind and brain resulting from meditation practice in the context of well-being across the lifespan (see Dusana has pioneered neuroscientific research on secular meditation with children and adolescents in schools and proposed a framework for research in contemplative science. So far she authored and co-authored over 10 peer-reviewed articles on research in this area. Dusana has also co-authored (with focus on neuroscience content) a mindfulness and well-being curriculum called The Present Course for Primary Schools. The course trains school teachers in teaching contemplative practice-based skills to 3-11 year olds in an incremental way. Dusana has authored two books: Mind, Brain and the Path to Happiness (Routledge, 2013) and Neuroscience and Psychology of Meditation in Everyday Life (Routledge, 2017). She has been regularly practicing meditation since 2000 and teaching meditation since 2005.

3 Mindfulness in Education in Iceland: A Whole School Model Approach - Principles and Preliminary Results
Anna Dora Frostadottir

This talk will explore a whole school mindfulness in education approach, and the research design of the “Mindfulness in Schools Project” in Iceland.
The “Mindfulness in Schools Project” entails two kinds of mindfulness-based curriculums for children aged 6-15. One curriculum involves a standardized 8 week mindfulness training programme which is delivered by trained teachers as a part of the school curriculum. The other involves a spiral well-being curriculum, called the Present, delivered by trained teachers to introduce mindful activities in an incremental and appropriate way throughout the school years. The implementation phase takes two years. The first year focuses on guiding teachers with personal mindfulness practices and training them to teach mindfulness to pupils (according to the two curriculums). The second year focuses on the teachers training the pupils, as well as offering parents with opportunities to learn about the basic principles and practices of mindfulness.
The model resonates within the framework of the “Health Promoting Schools” initiative of the World Health Organization. It involves a holistic approach, implementing mindfulness for teachers, staff members, students and parents. It aims at influencing the school spirit, and enhancing well-being, resilience, executive functioning and emotion regulation.
Preliminary results will be reported, with a focus on teachers’ experiences. We’ll discuss ways to engage staff members to be active in the whole school approach.

Anna Dora Frostadottir - Bio
Anna Dóra is a clinical psychologist, a social worker and a mindfulness teacher. She earned her MA in Clinical Psychology from the Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She earned her degree in Social Work at the University of Iceland and her MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches from the Bangor University, UK. She is one of the directors at the Mindfulness Centre in Reykjavík, Iceland. She teaches part-time mindfulness to postgraduate students in Positive Psychology and Social Work at the University of Iceland.
From 2005 to 2007, she worked as a clinical psychologist in the psychiatric department at the National University Hospital of Iceland. From 2008 to 2011, she worked as a CBT therapist in an IAPT team in St. Albans, UK. Since 2011 she has been working as a clinical psychologist in a CMHT team in the Department of Welfare in Reykjavík and has also been directing the Mindfulness Centre in Reykjavik. Iceland. She is one of the leaders in the research team, working in collaboration with the Directorate of Health, in developing holistic approach to implement mindfulness into schools nationwide. Her main research interests are the relationship between mindfulness and self-compassion and implementing mindfulness into schools.

4 Mindfulness in Education as a Whole School Approach - Principles, Guidelines, and Outcomes
Nimrod Sheinman

The presentation will explore a whole school approach to mindfulness, a model which has been implemented in Israel for the last 20 years. As a mode of intervention, the best framework for such an approach seems to be the 'Health Promoting Schools' initiative of the World Health Organization, which has been defined, applied and studied. A whole school mindfulness-based model, when designed by these principles, involves full integration of mindfulness in the school curriculum, engagement of schoolteachers, incorporation of parents, and a gradual long-term process which influences the school's culture and climate.
We’ll summarize our 20 years outcomes, focus on children’s experiences and expressions, and discuss how to enhance emotional, behavioral, and social learning, and promote positive psychological functioning and resilience.

Nimrod Sheinman - Bio
Dr. Nimrod Sheinman is one of Israel's most experienced and well-respected mind-body authorities. He is currently Founder and Director of Israel's Center for Mindfulness in Education, and was previously the Co-Founder and Director of Israel's Center for Mind-Body Medicine.
Israel's first “mindfulness in schools” project, which he initiated 20 years ago, with support from Israel's Ministry of Education, has since reached thousands of children, teachers and parents. In the whole school model, mindfulness is integrated into the school's curriculum, culture and climate, aiming at enhancing resilience, wellness, sense of connectedness and learning from within. The model has been applied in various primary schools across the country, for periods which range from 2 years to 20 years. It was presented in international conferences in Europe, Asia, Canada, USA, Australia and Israel.
Research interests include mindfulness-based pedagogies, children’s coping strategies, children’s inner experience during mindfulness, mindfulness in education as a whole-school approach, and mindfulness-based coping strategies.

5 Finland’s Healthy Learning Mind Research and Development Project
Salla-Maarit Volanen

The presentation will focus on mindfulness in education in Finland. Finland is well-known for its successful education and school system, and therefore serves as a good arena for examining the effects and implementation of mindfulness in the school context. The Healthy Learning Mind (HLM) initiative is a two-fold project that takes place in Finnish schools.
For one, HLM is a randomized controlled trial, comparing the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based school program versus a standard relaxation program among 12-15 years-old students (N=3519). Measures include resilience, socio-emotional functioning and depressive symptoms.
Secondly, since 2016, the HLM project has extended to include: (1) development and delivery of mindfulness-based programs for school personnel and students, (2) a nationwide dissemination of mindfulness-based programs, starting at the end of year 2018. A feasibility study assessing the acceptability and implementation of the model among pilot schools is ongoing.

Salla-Maarit Volanen - Bio
Salla-Maarit Volanen is a social scientist and a researcher at Folkhälsan Research Center, University of Helsinki (Dept of Public Health), where she directs the Healthy Learning Mind (HLM) initiative and research project. The HLM project, funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, investigates the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in Finnish schools, as well as explores the possible nationwide implementation and dissemination of mindfulness-based approaches in Finland’s schools.

6 Establishing a contemplation & mindfulness center
Yossi Ben Asher

In recent years, various models of how to establish contemplation & mindfulness centers have been developing in Israel. In the presentation I will share my experience about these various models e.g. top-down vs bottom-up. I will demonstrate the various activities that can be implemented and suggest ways of assimilating them into an educational institution such as: conducting special classes and activities as part of the curriculum, training courses and workshops for teachers and students, establishing a research group, and the importance of the physical place for the training. I will also share the experience I had with the Ministry of Education and other educational centers around the country.

Yossi Ben Asher - Bio
Yossi Ben Asher leads the implementation of contemplative and mindfulness centers in the education system in Israel, both in practice and concept. Yossi is the CEO of Lead Inside, a human caring firm aimed to develop and implement contemplative and mindfulness methods and other human-oriented approaches into education, organizations, healthcare and social sectors to deepen resilience, wisdom, emotional intelligence and well-being. He is the founder and initiator of the contemplation & mindfulness Center at Kibbutzim College of Education, one of the first campus-wide training teachers' contemplative initiatives. Yossi practices and teaches contemplation and mindful leadership courses for educators in which he emphasizes the connection to pedagogy. Yossi studied and mastered different attributes of contemplative practices such as meditation, mindfulness Jewish introspection and other spiritual practices. Yossi leads a research group exploring the integration of mindfulness and other contemplative practices to pedagogy in the education system.

Session leaders are:

Marco Weber
Marco Weber
Ph.D., Department of Psychology
Technical University Darmstadt
Short BioPublications
Claudia Harzer
Claudia Harzer
Ph.D., Department of Psychology
Technical University Darmstadt
Sort Bio Publications

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This session will assemble contributions on the role of character strengths in the context of positive schooling focusing on students and/or teachers. Although students’ and teachers’ engagement is of special interest, contributions in this session are not limited to this specific correlate of character strengths. Hence, contributions are welcome that combine (1) character strengths (cf. Peterson & Seligman, 2004) with (2) a student/teacher characteristic indicative for positive schooling (e.g., student/job engagement, academic/teaching self-efficacy, school/job satisfaction, school achievement/job performance, etc.). All in all, the session is planned to be comprised of short presentations on (1) current research findings, (2) research agendas, and/or (3) planned research in order to evaluate the idea that both students’ and teachers’ character strengths play a significant role in the broader context of positive schooling. A special emphasis will be given to the discussion of practical implications and applications.


1. Character strengths’ crucial role in schooling: Introducing a “schooling-related engine model of well-being”
Claudia Harzer, Department of Psychology, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany

This contribution will introduce a theoretical framework – the “schooling-related engine model of well-being” – that explains character strengths’ crucial role in schooling (Harzer, Weber, & Huebner, 2017). This model is based on an approach by Jayawickreme, Forgeard, and Seligman (2012) that distinguishes inputs, processes, and outcomes of human well-being broadly construed. (1) Inputs are resources that enable well-being, and can be represented as exogenous factors (e.g., individuals’ income, education level), and as endogenous factors (e.g., individuals’ personality characteristics). (2) Processes include internal states or mechanisms that influence well-being (e.g., emotions, cognitions). (3) Such processes in turn lead individuals to outcomes that reflect the attainment of well-being (e.g., meaningful activities, positive accomplishments) (cf. Jayawickreme et al. 2012). Harzer et al. (2017) adapted this approach and presented a schooling-related engine model of well-being that (1) includes inputs, processes, and outcomes on teacher level and on student level, (2) highlights that all inputs, processes, and outcomes are reciprocally related within the levels, and (3) emphasizes possible interactions between teacher level and student level. Special emphasis will be given on character strengths as central endogenous input variables and examples of relevant results will be presented.

2. Effects of an intervention program on intern teachers’ well-being and character strengths development
Nancy Goyette, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Department of Education Sciences, Canada, and
Philippe Dubreuil, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Department of Human Resources Management, Canada

In education, teachers training has evolved over the last decades in various parts of the world. In Québec (Canada), teachers must now develop a specific set of skills and competencies. They are required to be able to identify their strengths and limitations, along with personal objectives and means of achieving them, and engage in rigorous reflexive analysis on different aspects of their teaching. According to the positive psychology literature, one way to promote teacher’s personal skills and optimal functioning could be to identify and develop character strengths. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop a brief character strengths training program for interns and test its efficacy regarding the development of strengths knowledge, strengths use, job satisfaction, well-being and professional competencies. This study was conducted using a mixed method. A quantitative experimental design (2 groups x 3 measurement times; web-based questionnaires) was combined to a qualitative design (focus groups; end of study). Participants’ strengths knowledge, strengths use, job satisfaction, well-being and competency development were measured. Although non-significant, there is a tendency for the experimental group to present higher results. Five character strengths emerge particularly from trainees’ comments: perseverance, self-regulation, love, zest and social intelligence.

3. The role of teachers’ character strengths in classroom management
Polona Gradišek, Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Character strengths represent an important research topic in the area of positive psychology. They are defined as positive individual traits that are morally valued. Research on general population samples has shown numerous beneficial outcomes of individuals’ knowing their character strengths and using them in their everyday lives. As teachers have an important impact on learning and on personal development of their students, teachers’ character strengths were examined in a classroom context. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between teachers’ character strengths and effective classroom management. Moreover, we were examining the contribution of teachers’ character strengths to satisfaction of their students. Also, the nature of relationship between teachers’ character strengths, classroom management, and students’ satisfaction was investigated. The sample consisted of middle school and high school teachers of Slovenian language (N = 68) and their students (N = 1151, Mage = 16.2 years). Teachers filled in the VIA-IS questionnaire on self-reported character strengths. Instruments for students were developed for the purpose of present study: students reported about their perception of their teachers’ character strengths, classroom management and satisfaction with their teachers of Slovenian language. Instruments were administered in a paper-pencil form. Results have shown that teachers with higher endorsement of self-reported character strengths of zest, love, kindness, gratitude, hope, and humour were perceived as better classroom managers by their students. Students showed higher levels of satisfaction with teachers in which they recognized more of transcendence, humanity and knowledge strengths; students also assessed classroom management of teachers with these strengths as more positive. Hierarchical linear modelling (HLM) was used to examine the relationship between teachers’ character strengths, classroom management, and students’ satisfaction. Both classroom management and teachers’ character strengths, as perceived by students, proved as important predictors of student satisfaction. Our study confirmed the importance of teachers’ character strengths in the classroom context: they play an important role in effective classroom management, in students’ satisfaction and also contribute to student achievement. Therefore, teachers should be encouraged to recognise and develop their character strengths and use them in interactions with their students.

4. Principals’ strengths use effects on teachers
Sahar Amoury-Naddaf, Department of Leadership and Policy in Education, University of Haifa, Israel, and
Shiri Lavy, Department of Leadership and Policy in Education, University of Haifa, Israel

Character strengths are positively valued attributes, and their use is hypothesized to positively affect not only the individuals using the strengths, but also others around them, and the organization in which they dwell. These effects of strengths use on others have only rarely been examined empirically. The present study aims to fill this void, and examine effects of individuals’ strengths use on others in an educational setting. Specifically, we focused on principals, whose attitudes and behaviors were shown to significantly affect teachers, and examined associations of principals’ strengths use with teachers’ strength use, as well as with their performance and sense of meaning at work. We surveyed 67 principals and 366 teachers in their schools, who completed self-reports measures assessing the study variables. HLM analyses revealed significant associations of principals’ use of gratitude with teachers’ performance, of principals’ use of perspective and teachers’ sense of meaning, and of principals’ overall strengths use with teachers’ overall strengths use. These findings point to potential effects of principals’ strengths use on teachers, suggesting possible effects of individuals’ use of their strengths on others. They highlight the importance of principals’ strengths use, and call for further exploration of such effects in educational settings.

5. Working with VIA strengths in youth counselling – research plans as outcome of a Ph.D. intervention
Louise Tidmand, University of Aarhus, Denmark

During my current Ph.D. called “Teaching Life Skills as part of curriculum – the What, Why and How?” I have implemented a strength-based intervention with 500 10th grade students, their 67 teachers and the youth counselling department of the municipality of Odense (the 4th largest city of Denmark. From my qualitative research including semi-structured interviews with students, teachers, school management and youth counsellors, I have found, that this Ph.D. intervention aimed at the 10th grade students of the municipality, has given new practice to the youth counselling of the municipality. It turns out, that the youth counselling department have become very satisfied with the strength-based approach and are now introducing strength-based youth counselling starting in the 8th grade with all students in the whole municipality of Odense. In particular, the youth counsellors introduce the Strength Game – using the narrative to find and embrace strengths, and an activity called Job&Strengths, that focus on all sorts of jobs as opportunities for strengths to come into play. Future research would focus on the role of youth counsellors, their everyday practice and the implications of the application of actual materials. I would like to present such a project.

6. Positive Education Programme: A whole school approach to supporting children’s wellbeing
Jochem Goldberg, Department of Psychology, Health and Technology, University of Twente, Netherlands,
Aleisha Clarke, Department of Psychology, Health and Technology, University of Twente, Netherlands,
Karlein Schreurs, Department of Psychology, Health and Technology, University of Twente, Netherlands,
and Ernst Bohlmeijer, Department of Psychology, Health and Technology, University of Twente, Netherlands

The Positive Education Programme (PEP) is a whole school approach to supporting children’s wellbeing and creating a positive school climate in primary schools in the Netherlands. PEP adopts a competence skill enhancement approach with a focus on developing children’s positive emotional skills and strengths. The current study evaluates PEP using a quasi-experimental design. Two intervention schools and two control schools are included, averaging 200 students per school. Observation methods as well as self-report questionnaires for teachers and students are used to measure the impact of PEP. The results from this study will be presented, including the impact of PEP on children’s wellbeing, engagement, emotional and behavioral problems, bullying behavior, school climate and academic achievement. Implementation findings including fidelity, quality of implementation and the view of key stakeholders will be discussed in the context of program outcomes. A whole school approach aimed at creating a positive school climate and promoting student wellbeing has not been carried out in the Netherlands to date. The results from this study provide a unique insight into the implementation and effectiveness of this approach. Implications for future research and practice in the context of adopting a whole school approach to supporting children’s wellbeing will be discussed.

7. On the relations between students’ character strengths and various aspects of positive schooling
Marco Weber, Department of Psychology, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany

Character strengths are postulated as crucial factors, which are positively related to individuals’ flourishing, thriving, and successes in life (e.g., Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Research on such associations examines more general aspects in life (e.g., relations between character strengths and global life satisfaction), but also focuses on specific life domains (e.g., job, family, school). The present contribution will summarize research findings that underscore the positive relations between students’ character strengths and various aspects of the school domain with a specific emphasis on positive schooling. For example, research found positive relations between students’ self-reported character strengths and their positive classroom behavior (e.g., being diligent, cooperative, reliable) perceived by their teachers. Furthermore, character strengths seemed to be positively associated with school performance (i.e., better grades at school). As another example, character strengths were positively related to students’ satisfaction with school experiences, enjoyment of learning, but also to their academic self-efficacy beliefs. Further empirical findings will be summarized. All in all, available research findings highlight the meaningful and positive associations between students’ character strengths and a diverse set of aspects indicative for positive schooling.

Overall discussion (Marco Weber & Claudia Harzer)


Pninit Russo-Netzer
Dr. Pninit Russo-Netzer
Ph.D., University of Haifa
Short Bio


Meaning in life is considered one of the central ultimate concerns with which philosophers, religions, social scientists, poets, and laypeople alike have struggled across cultures and throughout history. Ample evidence suggests the importance of meaning for human coping as well as thriving. Furthermore, in the last two decades, psychologists have come to increasingly acknowledge the importance of meaning in life for positive youth development. In line with this, the session will explore theoretical, conceptual and empirical perspectives of the contribution of meaning and purpose to engaging education in the 21st century.


1. Meaningfulness as significance – Authenticity and contribution as two key pathways to what makes life worth living
Dr. Frank Martela, Aalto University, Finland

Having meaning in life is connected to key aspects of human wellness and flourishing, while lack of meaning has been associated with depression, mortality, and even suicide ideation. Despite the importance of this fundamental psychological experience, there are still disagreements about what exactly is meant by ’meaningfulness.’ Here I will argue that meaningfulness is most fundamentally about significance as the worthiness and intrinsic value of one’s life. In other words, it is about whether life is worth living or not, taking everything into account. Moreover, I argue that there are two specific intrinsic values – authenticity as self-realization and contribution as the positive impact beyond oneself of one’s life – that determine to a large degree how much significance we typically find from our lives. The first is about the intrinsic value of one’s life for the person in question, while the second is about the intrinsic value of one’s life beyond the person in question. Both authenticity and contribution correlate strongly with meaning judgments and experimental work has demonstrated how experimental manipulation of both of them can increase people’s meaningfulness judgments. Through this clarified focus on significance, psychology can take steps to empirically examine what people find makes life worth living.

2. Purpose and Engagement in School: Development and Pilot Evaluation of a Purpose-Centered, Service Learning Program for 4th-6th graders
Taylor Damiani (M.A.), Doctoral Candidate, University of California, Santa Barbara

Seligman’s Well-being Theory proposes five elements (PERMA) that contribute to human flourishing, one of those being purpose and meaning in life. Purpose is a stable intention to at once do something meaningful to the self and of consequence to the greater world beyond the self. However, only 1 in 4 youth (ages 12-22) endorse having a sense of purpose. The benefits of having purpose are numerous. Purpose contributes to positive youth development (PYD). a theory proposing that youth are resources to be positively developed rather than problems to be managed. The purpose of this study was to explore the following question: can we foster a sense of purpose in youth, specifically prosocial purpose (purpose directed toward benefiting others)? The researcher examined the feasibility and potential utility of a school-based prosocial purpose curriculum as part of an afterschool program. The following variables were measured: number of prosocial purposes, commitment to prosocial purpose, and beliefs about social responsibility. A quasi-experimental design was implemented; teachers sorted students into either the treatment or control group. Participants were 53 4th-6th graders. The average age was 10.01 years, 46.3% identified as female (none as transgender individuals), and participants were predominantly Latina/o/x (85.20%). All students took a pretest and posttest. The treatment group received an 8-week curriculum (1 hour per week for 8 weeks during afterschool hours). Results of a 2x2 MANCOVA revealed no significant difference between treatment and control groups at posttest in regards to amount of prosocial purposes endorsed and commitment to prosocial purpose. However, the treatment and control groups differed significantly from each other on posttest social responsibility beliefs scores (with the treatment group faring better than the control). Future studies could explore the role of beliefs of social responsibility in informing purpose interventions.

3. Experience Sampling Comparison of Engagement, Mood, and Purpose: High School Students in a Traditional School Environment vs. Students in an Initiative-Based, Learner-Centered Environment
Prof. Gary Gute, Prof. Deanne Gute, Dr. Elaine Eshbaugh University of Northern Iowa
Prof. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Claremont Graduate University

This project explored Experience Sampling as a promising method for assessing purposeful engagement among high school students. IowaBIG is an initiative-based high school within a medium-sized Midwestern U.S. city. Students dual-enroll between a traditional school and IowaBIG, earning credit toward graduation by working with community partners in problem-solving teams. In January 2017, a sample of IowaBIG students (N=35) participated in this ESM study in which a 20-item smartphone survey was delivered eight times per day for six days. Questions were derived from the preconditions and dimensions of flow experience. Analysis compared mean scores between IowaBIG students while attending IowaBIG or when working with a community partner, to mean scores for the same students while attending their traditional schools. Students reported significantly higher levels of engagement and positive mood while working in the initiative-based, learner-centered environment than in the traditional school environment on 16 of 20 items. Traditional surveys and interviews provided additional data. The project team will discuss the connection between these students’ commitment to challenging, engaging projects and their discovery of purpose, as indicated in their responses regarding immediate goals and formation of meaningful, energizing paths to the future.

4. Demands and resources that influence meaningfulness and engagement of first-year students in a South African rural-based university: Experiences shared by students and support structures.
Prof. Karina Mostert, North-West University, South Africa
Prof. Arnold B Bakker, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Students from rural-origin are often from disadvantaged backgrounds, experience severe financial challenges, feel isolated and face many changes in terms of culture, lifestyle and language. Compared to urban students, students of rural origin find the environment, language of teaching and learning, technology, finances, academic course content and personal challenges more difficult. Studies also show concern for further education of students from rural origin in terms of the impact of mental health on dropout rates, poorer academic achievement compared to urban students and living in an environment that is under resourced. These factors may have a significant impact on the meaningfulness that students find in their lives and in their studies and could also have an impact on their study engagement. However, research is scarce in understanding the experiences of students studying in rural-based universities and how their circumstances influence meaningfulness and study engagement. In addition, studies investigating meaningfulness and engagement of rural-based students often lack theoretical foundations. This research aims to utilise the Study Demands-Resource model (based on the Job Demands-Resources model) to investigate experiences of South African rural-based university students and how it impact on meaningfulness and study engagement.

5. Principals’ Sense of Meaning and Teachers’ Attitudes and Feelings: HLM Analyses
Shani Hassid and Dr. Shiri Lavy, The University of Haifa, Israel

Leader's sense of meaning was theorized to be a key motivator for employees, assumed to affect their motivation, attitudes, and behavior. This is assumed to be especially important in educational organizations, in which the sense of meaning at work is considered a key motivator. However, these effects of leaders’ sense of meaning on their employees’ attitudes and feelings have hardly been examined empirically. The present research aimed to shed light on these effects in schools, while exploring associations of principals’ sense of meaning with teachers’ work attitudes and feelings. We assessed work meaningfulness of 70 principals, and work meaningfulness, burnout, engagement, and positive and negative affect of 369 teachers working in their schools (~ five from each school). HLM analyses indicated associations of principals’ sense of meaning with teachers' sense of meaning, burnout, and positive and negative affect at work, even when controlling for teachers’ workload and tenure. Interestingly, principals’ sense of meaning was not associated with teachers' engagement. The findings highlight the importance of school principals' sense of meaning, pointing to its associations with teachers’ attitudes and feelings. Theoretical implications for student engagement and achievement will be discussed, as well as practical implications for principal recruitment, training and development.


Pninit Russo-Netzer
Dr. Pninit Russo-Netzer
Ph.D., University of Haifa
Short Bio

Addressing "ultimate concerns" of meaning and purpose from a young age through education may facilitate healthy conditions for the development of engagement, responsibility, and the shaping of a purposeful path. In line with this, this session will discuss how awareness to meaning and purpose can be fostered and nurtured in educational settings.


1. Unraveling Youth Meaning, Purpose, and Happiness: Looking Ahead at Educators’ Role
Prof. (Emerita) Zipora Magen, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Spanning over two decades and encompassing diverse cultures and teenage populations, our cumulative body of research has demonstrated a powerful relationship between the intensity of young people's happy moments in life and their readiness to commit themselves to the welfare of others. Using a series of quantitative and qualitative studies, we found that those same teenagers who express prosocial yearnings or who actually contribute actively to others' well-being are the ones who experience more intense moments of joy and sense of fulfillment. Moreover, across all our studied groups, when young people were actively involved in volunteerism targeting the community or society at large, their descriptions of highly intense moments of joy and real meaning surpassed those of their noninvolved peers. Our studies in Israeli school settings have thus underscored the importance of guiding young people to become actively involved in various sorts of mandatory prosocial activities. Teenagers' actual continuous involvement in such activities appears to generate a multifaceted impact. Being able to provide significant help to others may foster adolescents’ sense of personal identity, coherence, and ability to experience life with more confidence and joy. However, the results of our studies suggest the need to proceed with caution. Findings have documented that adolescents benefit mainly, or sometimes only, when their prosocial activities are accompanied by a supportive professional framework that encourages self-monitoring and self-evaluation to clarify the activity's personal significance and foster awareness of feelings, thoughts, and sensations that arise during such interactions. Crucially, intervention designs should identify social processes within the family unit and community that may enhance development of adolescents’ healthy attributes. An innovative project conducted in Israel shows significant benefits from comprehensive long-term training of a cadre of active volunteers (informal and formal educators) to become leaders of professional trainers for youth volunteerism around the country.

2. Autonomy support, engagement and meaning in an Icelandic compulsory school
Dr. Ingibjörg Kaldalóns, University of Iceland

The objective of this study is to throw light on autonomy support of students in their daily school-work and by that to gain an understanding of school practices that support students’ engagement and well-being. The theoretical framework derives from self-determination theories (SDT) according to which autonomy is the basis for intrinsic motivation and engagement. Student’s autonomy means they are acting from their authentic self, with the experience of choice and in accord with their deeply held values, interests and desires and therefore a vital part of their sense of meaning. If we are not living from within there can be no sense of meaning. The research focuses on school-practices in grades 8-10 in a compulsory school (called NOW) in Iceland that bases its’ practices mainly upon Self-determination theories. In this case-study qualitative research methods were used; field observations and interviews among students and teachers. The results show that even though the school operates within the National Curriculum there was vast difference between NOW and more traditional school-practices; both in teaching methods, classroom practices and attitudes of teachers. In the session we will discuss how school practices that are based on Self-determination theory can encourage students to live from within and to find their own inner compass in accordance to their values and interests. E.g. by providing choice, encouraging self-initiation and honoring student’s perspectives. They also offer all students coaching sessions as part of every-day school practice to create opportunities for students to discuss direction-giving and meaningful goals and to discuss values and purpose of their studies.

3. Nurturing the spark of meaning in children: Empirical and practical implications of Viktor Frankl's pathways to meaning in life
Dr. Pninit Russo-Netzer, University of Haifa, Israel

Meaning in life, which is almost unanimously recognized as a fundamental component of subjective well-being, has received little research attention when it comes to children, presumably due to a lack of suitable measurement tools for this age range. This talk will include a brief presentation of a study which provides evidence for the effect of meaning in life on the well-being of elementary school children aged 9–12 in Israel, through the development of Meaning in Life in Children Questionnaire (MIL-CQ), a new 21-item self-report measure of the presence and the sources of meaning in life in children, based on Viktor Frankl's concept of the ‘meaning triangle'. Based on these three pathways to meaning in life, the talk will also explore potential educational venues through which the educational system may facilitate development of a healthy sense of meaning and the shaping of a purposeful path from a young age.

4. Fostering adolescents’ meaning and purpose in life through a social and emotional program
Mandy Wai-chan Chan, Jimmy de la Torre and Mantak Yuen, The University of Hong Kong

The presentation will focus on a positive education initiative on fostering meaning and purpose in life within the framework of social and emotional learning (SEL) for Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong. The conceptual framework for cultivating meaning and purpose grounded in character development and virtues within the context of SEL programming will be presented. It is proposed that characters and virtues such as gratitude, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, and respect for diversity form the basis that support the development of the sense of meaning and purpose. By drawing upon literature on positive psychology, positive youth development, SEL, and character education, learning activities will be developed to cultivate the sense of meaning and purpose among adolescents. Finally, it will conclude that the SEL program targeting at fostering the sense of meaning and purpose may promote equity and social justice in social behaviors among adolescents, and may contribute to their well-being. Lastly, its implications on educational policy making would be discussed.

5. Meaningful Learning through the “Three-Level of Teaching Model”: Practice and Research
Abu Yaman Mary and Zipora Shechtman, Haifa University, Haifa Israel

In light of increasing evidence of the association between emotional abilities, social climate and academic achievement, social and emotional learning programs (SEL) have been widely implemented in schools/ The goal of such programs is to foster the development of five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioral components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2005)—all embedded in the theory of positive psychology. These competencies should, in turn, provide a foundation for better adjustment and academic performance, more positive social behavior and fewer conduct problems. Most SEL programs are segregated weekly sessions; integrating social and emotional learning into the studied content can intensify the experiences of learning about self and others and become a natural way for students to share experiences and learn from one another. The Three-Level Model achieves just this through the addition of the Personal level to the two commonly used informative and conceptual levels. Moreover, the personal level makes the content relevant to the learner-his identity, character, and life. Students learn about their strengths all in a positive way and a supportive climate. Several large studies indicated the effectiveness of this method in increasing student engagement, improving well-being, behavior, and academic achievements. In the presentation we will illustrate the method and show the results.


Tammie Ronen
Professor Tammie Ronen
Tel-Aviv University
Short Bio

Many children experience emotional, social, behavioral, and academic challenges in school. The symposium presents various studies and projects aiming to increase the child resilience and help him or her flourish by training the child immediate environment.


1. Helping children to ‘prosper’ and ‘bounce back’
Dr. Toni Nobel

Background: This practical presentation describes a unique community-driven project in Positive Education initiated by Pauline Carrigan, whose son sadly committed suicide. Pauline set up a charity: Where There’s A Will (WTAW) to help all children in their rural community learn the skills of wellbeing and resilience from the first years of schooling.

Intervention: The Positive Education Bounce Back Wellbeing and Resilience program, (3rd edition), was taught by all classroom teachers to all children in six primary schools funded by a research partnership between WTAW and Institute for Positive Psychology and Education (ACU). All teachers taught a curriculum unit on resilience, then 3 schools taught units on core values, relationships, courage, strengths and the other 3 schools units on optimism, humour, emotions and success over two school terms.

Outcomes: Student wellbeing in grades 3-6 was assessed on 7 wellbeing variables (positivity, relationships, outcomes, strengths, purpose, engagement, resilience) and showed a decrease in student wellbeing in grades 5 and 6 highlighting the importance of teaching the skills for wellbeing and resilience from the first years of schooling. This presentation reviews both quantitative and qualitative data (focus groups with students, teachers/parents) that identify the major factors that contributed to enhancing student wellbeing and resilience and teacher wellbeing.

Conclusion: This research highlights the value of providing teachers with engaging curriculum units to teach children the skills of wellbeing and resilience.

Toni Noble, PhD
A teacher educator, psychologist and co-author of the award-winning Bounce Back Well-being & Resilience program and Adjunct Professor in the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education (Australian Catholic University). Her other books include The PROSPER School Pathways for Student Wellbeing. Policy and Practices; Eight Ways At Once (Books 1 & 2) and Different Kids, Same Classroom on curriculum differentiation and HITS and HOTS: Teaching +Thinking+ Social skills on student engagement. Her Government projects includes the National Safe Schools Framework, the Scoping Study on Student Wellbeing and resourcing the Student Wellbeing & Resilience program Skills on student engagement. Her Government projects include the Wellbeing Hub.

2. Positive Psychology in Psychotherapy Groups in School

Zipora Shechtman, Professor, Haifa University, Haifa, Israel

One way to increase children’s happiness and well-being in school is through counseling and psychotherapy groups. Many children experience emotional, social, behavioral, and academic challenges and need special attention. Small counseling and psychotherapy groups have proved to be an effective way of helping them to cope with those challenges, at least as effective as individual therapy. The therapeutic factors in group, including group cohesion and support, interpersonal learning, universality and altruism, among others, are unique healing forces, all drawn from positive psychology.

In the presentation we will demonstrate the expressive-supportive modality of group therapy and provide evidence from two particular recent studies involving children with conduct disorder, ADHD, and high level of aggression, as well as parents.

Children were treated in small groups within the school schedule, in weekly sessions. Results indicate progress in well-being, reduction in aggression, anxiety and social difficulties. Parents were also treated in weekly sessions. Results indicated the reduction of stress, improvement in their perception of the child, but also improvement in their children’s function and well- being although the children were not involved in treatment.

The discussion attributes the positive outcomes to the unique characteristics of group counseling/psychotherapy—emotional expression and social support.

3. Inquiry-Based Stress Reduction Meditation Technique for Teacher Burnout A Qualitative Study
Shahar Lev-Ari, Lia Schnaider-Levi, Inbal Mitnik, Keren Zafrani Shahar Lev-Ari

Inquiry Based Well- reduction (IBSR) is emerging as a novel third wave Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approachs for enhancing well-being and quality of life. It has been found to have a positive effect on burnout and mental well-being parameters among teachers. The aim of the current study was to qualitatively evaluate the effect of IBSR technique on the participants. Semi-structured interviews were conducted before and after the IBSR intervention and were analyzed using the interpretative phenomenological analysis method. Before the intervention the teachers described emotional overload caused by two main reasons: (1) multiple stressful interactions with students, parents, colleagues,and the educational system, and (2) the ideological load of their profession trying to fulfill high expectations of performance and the manifesting educational values. Following the intervention, the teachers described a sense of centeredness and a greater ability to accept reality. They reported improvements in setting boundaries, thought flexibility, and self-awareness. These improvements assisted them in coping with the complex and dynamic nature of their profession. These positive effects suggest that IBSR is an effective technique in reducing teachers’ burnout and promoting mental well-being.

4. Unique Program to Develop EQ and Resilience for Success Background
Adj. Prof. Mike Cownay, Founder & CEO XVenture.

Research suggests that there is a correlation between high levels of emotional intelligence and resilience and successful people (1) and a growing trend that school leavers lack crucial skills required in the workplace and life including: ‘soft skills’ and ability to adapt, deal with change and pressure (2 & 3).

Intervention: XVenture created a program which teaches resilience, emotional intelligence and goal setting to prepare students for greater success in education, employment and life. In 2016 two Sydney schools (48 students from each) participated in the pilot program.

Methodology: The 12- week program delivered alongside the existing school curricula combined; on-line, face to face, experiential learning, group work, assignments and presentations. Students completed emotional intelligence (3) and Resilience (4) surveys pre- and post completion of the program.

Results: 75% of students improved their level of emotional intelligence and 84% of students noticed a change in their behavior.

Outcome: In December 2017, XVenture trained 26 educators from NSW to deliver the program to 800 students with funding in place to make it available to 500 schools by end of 2018.

5. Honor Your Inner Child: Rediscover the Power of Learning through Play and Experience
Casey Kimberley

Outside of school, learning as a child was so intuitive, most of us don’t even remember it. What we do remember are experiences. Attendees will participate in experiential activities specifically selected to achieve the session learning objectives, including exploration of play, interaction, communication, cooperation, and reflection. They will also be introduced to Experiential Learning Theory, as well as explore the power of choice, play, failure, and reflection in our learning journeys. Finally, participants will discover methods and techniques for adding more of these into their daily lives and educational environments.

6. Increasing positive emotion and self-evaluation in Children
Professor Tammie Ronen, Dean, The Gershon Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences Tel-Aviv University

The last decade has seen an increased interest in the role of emotions in general, and the ability to express positive emotion, in particular.
With children, these aims are even more important due to the developmental characteristics of emotion.
The lecture presents a short presentation of the basic components of positive psychology: subjective well being, positive affect, happiness and satisfaction of life and its importance in helping children flourishing. Based on theoretical model developed through large scale studies the lecture presents three national projects: Empowering children and help them flourish through group therapy based on self-control acquisition, Decreasing positive emotion and increasing positive emotion through sport , and music for social change.


Tammie Ronen
Professor Tammie Ronen
Tel-Aviv University
Short Bio

The symposium presents studies and projects focus on methods to facilitate resilience among children by helping children be aware of and increase personal strength, meaning of life, cultivating inner and outside awareness, and support.


1. Meaning in life through children's eyes as a source of resilience: research and practice
Dr. Yael Sharon

The lecture, will describe the research about 'meaning in life' with 8 years old children, that conducted through verbal conversation and drawings. There will be emphasize the major components encompass the meaning such as: What are the most meaningful and significant things in the children’s eyes , what do they think is the best way to live? What are the strengths the children possess for living a life of meaning?

Based on the outcomes there will be presentations of ways to implement 'meaning in life' with abused and neglect children, through education and therapy, in order to strengthen and reinforce them

2. Mindfulness, authenticity, and body and emotional awareness: Promoting childhood well being
Noga Tsur, PhD

Humanistic perspectives and positive psychology theory link between bodily and emotional processes, and the relevance of bodily experience for the total sense of self. Furthermore, this framework accentuates the ways in which subjective processes are experienced by the individual. It is suggested that an open and non-judging orientation towards bodily and emotional experiences enables individuals to use their subjective information as a compass for authentic action in the world.

In line with these ideas, a growing body of knowledge points to the benefits of mindfulness for enhancing health, positive functioning, and well-being. Mindfulness is defined emphasize the inherent as the ability to focus attention to currently occurring experiences, in an accepting and non-judging way. Although mindfulness is commonly conceptualized and practiced as a meditation technique, it has been suggested that mindfulness also reflects a dispositional orientation towards subjective experiences.

This presentation will focus on the conceptualization of mindfulness as orientation towards subjective experience, and the ways in which it is formed through developmental processes in early childhood. Findings which articulate these theoretical concepts into measurable constructs will be presented. These findings demonstrate that mindfulness plays a cardinal role in the ability to use subjective bodily and emotional experiences to enhance authentic behavior and well-being. Although examined among young adults, the discussed findings entail potential directions for understanding the ways in which positive functioning, and happiness can be promoted among children. Finally, practical directions for the implementation of dispositional mindfulness interventions in school settings will be presented

3. Building Resilience and Nature Connectedness: embedded practice for engaging with nature.
Dr. M. Obrien

Resilience refers to the capacity of a dynamic system to adapt successfully to disturbances that threaten the viability, function, or development of said system (Masten, 2014), and higher levels of resilience have consistently been shown to exert a protective effect across all life outcomes (Shatte, Perlman, Smith, & Lynch, 2017). The influential role which connecting with nature has upon resilience and well-being is one which has long been overlooked within the research. Dwindling levels of contact with outdoors and nature have left young people with fewer opportunities to engage in calculated risk-taking and explorative play, meaning that they have in turn become increasingly sheltered from risk, less adept at independent problem solving, and less resilient (Tovey, 2011). With research into the potential benefits of nature connectedness upon physical and mental health outcomes also yielding a wealth of positive findings (Capaldi, Passmore, Zelenski, & Dopko, 2015; Capaldi, Dopko, & Zelenski, 2014), it has become evident that reconnecting young people with nature is a requirement of urgent importance.

Attendees at this session will consider the most up-to-date research in the domains of nature connectedness and resilience. Additionally, the development of resilience and nature connectedness in education will be explored, and the most effective means to embed strategies within the classroom will be presented.

4. Building resilience through appreciative approaches
Martin Galpin De& Michele Deeks

Encouraging understanding and celebration of personal strengths is a concrete way to help build resilience and flourishing in individuals and communities. But how can we best enable people to have a grounded sense of their strengths, that they take responsibility for and that can be used as a basis for personal growth?

We all know that appreciative questions are powerful facilitators. But sometimes people struggle to answer the well-intentioned questions, such as ‘what are your strengths?’ or ‘what do you most appreciate about Bob?’

Through our work across a range of sectors, we have developed some simple yet highly-effective tools that help make appreciative conversations easier and more productive. By taking an approach which is grounded in the person’s own context, we have developed ways to talk about strengths that focus on personal meaning and emotional connection.

We will share some of our approaches and the principles behind them, so that delegates can take them away and put them to use immediately to take a strengths-based approach to building resilience and wellbeing.

[Please note, this session can be adapted to either be a short 10-15 min presentation or a longer interactive session, to suit requirements]

5. Detecting Sleep Deprivation through Twitter: A Language Based Study
Gavin R. Slemp, Margaret L. Kern, Alistair Walsh

Keywords: Sleep deprivation, wellbeing, language, adolescents, engagement

Background: Regular sleep habits contribute to adolescent wellbeing, health, and engagement, with poor quality and short sleep duration linked to numerous undesirable outcomes for youth and their families. It may be possible to use social media data to unobtrusively monitor sleep patterns, allowing risky patterns to be identified, enabling early intervention to occur. Further, the social media language itself may provide insights into why risky patterns occur, informing more effective social media governance in school settings and potentially fostering increased student resilience and engagement.

Method/Results: Using a random sample of Twitter users (N = 20,000), we identify several sleep patterns derived from posting frequency at different times of the day, and lay the groundwork for examining the language that characterizes each group, using top down (lexica based) and bottom up (data driven) approaches.

Discussion/Conclusion: In this paper presentation, we present our rationale, briefly summarize our approach and preliminary results, and consider potential implications and limitations of our results. Finally, we consider potential policy- and individual-level interventions that may help promote more effect sleeping habits in the presence of prevalent and frequent social media use.

6. Building mindful resilience
Elke Paul

Teaching young people how to build resilience is closely linked to cultivating inner awareness. Adversity cannot be avoided, yet it is up to us to decide how to react to it and to find meaning. In order to make the right decision moving forward in a challenging situation, it is helpful to acknowledge how it is emotionally affecting us, and what line of thinking we are taking. Knowing that we can take tailored measures designed to address the underlying feeling and respond proactively, which in turn increases our sense of self-efficacy. Instilling a sense of inner (non religious) faith also sets an anchor of trust in oneself, making it easier to cope with difficulties. Experience shows, this skill set can be trained and builds resilience.

A three step approach is proposed and demonstrated to train mindful resilience in teenagers.
1. Collect and discuss real-life teen challenges.
2. Build faith and self-efficacy by teaching coping strategies (growth mindsets, changes in perspectives, benefit finding, finding meaning).
3. Tailor mindfulness and/or relaxation sessions according to the issue to identify the core feelings and learn how to safely address them.

7. School-based interventions based on ancient wisdom for socially marginalized students
Narayanan Annalakshmi, Professor, Dept. of Psychology, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, India

Children from socially marginalized communities are confronted with several risk factors that thwart their positive adaptation. They often experience deprivation of physical, emotional and social resources at home. With limited resources they have access to education in government schools that again have limited resources. This deprivation at home and school challenges their development and adaptation. Intervention targeted at these socially marginalized students must help them develop the competencies needed to address deprivation of each kind of resource in their lives. Several school-based interventions have been attempted to nurture resilience among socially marginalized children and youth. The presentation here will focus on exploring the feasibility of applying ancient Indian wisdom to enhance resilience among children and youth. Probabilistic Orientation and Bhagavat Gita can serve as effective models to promote resilience among socially marginalized students. Though these two models were developed in Indian culture they have an pan cultural appeal and address fundamental psychological issues, and hence may be effective on population from any culture.

The construct of Probabilistic Orientation (PO) found expressed in a poem in Purananooru has been attributed to Kanian Poonkundranar of Sangam age dating back to 3rd century BC and 3rd century AD. Probabilistic orientation (Narayanan, 1977) is defined as a personality orientation that is reflected by a neutral locus of control. PO refers to adherence to a worldview that nature is unbiased and is constantly evolving following a stochastic process. This enables individuals to refrain from believing that they are victims of adversity by helping them understand that events in nature occur in random and are not targeting for or against anyone. The PO is reflected by seven factors, namely, unbounded expectancy, sensing unlimited possibilities, insight into bias, healthy skepticism, unconditional acceptance, appreciation of chance, and awareness of predictability.

Bhagavad Gita is part of the great epic Mahabharatha, a widely popular mythological story in Hindu philosophy dating back to 4000-5000 B.C. Gita is almost in its entirety the dialogue between two individuals, Lord Krishna and Arjuna (the Pandava prince) in the battle field during the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, the cousins, for the kingdom of Hasthinapura. Concepts like Dharma (Duty), Gnana Karma (Intelligent Action where there is no performance anxiety), Nishkamya Karma (Action where there is no anxiety about the fruits of the efforts), Bhakti (Trust), Sreyas (Thought that is conducive for our long-term wellbeing), Anasakthi (non-attachment), Aparigraha (non-greed or refraining from focusing on material gain)

Both PO and Bhagavat Gita can serve as models to enhance resilience among socially marginalized students. The concepts described in these two sources of ancient wisdom cover cognitive, emotional and social domains of human being. Students from socially marginalized background lack internal locus of control, have limited motivation to move forward when faced with challenges, and have internalizing and externalizing problems. A school-based intervention formulated using these PO and Bhagavat Gita as two models can help us at-risk students to navigate smoothly towards the resources available in their surroundings and negotiate with them effectively in order to achieve positive adaptation. The presentation will provide an intervention model based on the framework provided by PO and Bhagavat Gita that will address the risk factors in the lives of socially marginalized students.


Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara
Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara
University of Helsinki


1. Positive CV
Kaisa Vuorinen, University of Helsinki

Positive CV, or PCV, is a curriculum vitae of a broad range of skills that helps a child to learn to recognise their various abilities. Evidence of skills used in different environments, such as at school, at home, within hobbies, and among groups of friends, is saved on the PCV. The PCV is shaped according to the child’s own needs, and grows into youth along with the child, starting from kindergarten. The PCV is particularly applicable for children with special needs. It is free for all children and it can be customized to correspond various purposes.

The PCV promotes children being noticed in a positive way wherever they are. The child will be seen through their strengths, and they themselves learn to view others from the viewpoint of skills. The PCV is a newcomer in the field of evaluation, a tool needed alongside traditional report cards that sketches a diverse picture of the best of everyone. The PCV can initially be a notebook or a poster, but finally, however, an electronic platform. It is designed and developed together with children themselves. The PCV serves as a data collection platform. The contents that are saved on the platform can be analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively.

In our presentation, the MVP of the PCV will be introduced. Ways to use it in order to support students to find their strengths and talents are shown. PCV won the shared first prize in a competition for social innovations in Finland, please see

2. Parental Box
Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara, University of Helsinki

Parental Box is an information kit and big data collection tool on parenthood. It helps families to find support and joy in parenthood, reliably and easily. Finnish researchers and professionals in the field are responsible for the content of Parental Box, and the service is being created together with families. Parental Box is a “mental maternity kit” for all adults close to a baby. It is a primary preventive tool for all families, available for everyone free of charge.

Parental Box consists of two parts: ten first aid cards (please see and a digital platform. On the platform, the themes of the cards are addressed more broadly, and personalized service, including the opportunity to ask questions, share experiences, and take part in the research, is offered. Families are invited to participate in the data collection through visits in the maternity and child health care centers.

In the preconference presentation, the idea of the Parental Box (and the traditional Finnish maternity package), the cards and the data collection tool are introduced. The Parental Box innovation reached the final in the Helsinki Challenge science competition in fall 2017 (please see

3. Sense of belonging in different school placements for Finnish students with special education needs
Henri Pesonen, University of Helsinki

In this presentation, conceptions associated with sense of belonging (SEBE) in Finnish general and special school placements for students with special education needs are researched. Five students were selected for this study by means of purposive sampling. They had a history of several school placements prior to arriving at their current special school. Qualitative phenomenographic analyses of interview transcripts revealed numerous conceptions regarding the students’ SEBE in the different educational placements. The students had undergone numerous placements in which their SEBE had been jeopardised, as non-optimal relationships with teachers and peers seemed to have affected their mental and physical well-being, resulting in disturbing behaviours in their earlier educational settings. Despite the various placements and issues of ableism, stigmatisation and exclusion, the pupils felt ‘better’ in their current, special, school with a positive climate. Furthermore, the findings of this study provided an initial exploration of the phenomenon, as well as shed light on the several limitations encountered. Hence, further exploration of school cultures and the role of teachers’ values and beliefs is needed for a better understanding of how.

4. The Application of Self-Determination to the Disability Context
Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D, University of Kansas

This session will provide a brief summary of the application of the self-determination construct to the disability context and examine assessments of self-determination and autonomy-supportive interventions that have evidence to promote self-determination and more positive school and community outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities. In particular, the session will present information on (1) Causal Agency Theory and its relationship to Self-Determination Theory and the development of self-determination across the lifespan; and (2) interventions to promote causal agency and self-determination, particularly the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction, an evidence-based practice that enables educators to teach students to self-regulate problem solving leading to goal setting and attainment.


Anne Linder
Anne Linder
Aut. Psychologist, author and center manager of the Danish Center for ICDP, Denmark
Short Bio


From everyday lives, we know that effective relationships are significant to experience the good life. Human relationships are equally important in pedagogy and in psychological treatments. But what are professional relationship-skills? The question is simple - but the answer is complicated. This requires, first and foremost, a common technical language and a high degree of sensitivity.

The workshop will be centered around the ICDP (International Child Development Program), which has proved to be a significant program when you want to sensitize both teachers, educators and psychologists, and other staff-members who have a close contact with families, is a prerequisite for the success of their core work.

The sensitivity program addresses both the general area and the specialist field area distinguishing itself, among other things, as professionals will be better equipped to maintain the position of a mentalizing position. Consequently, within the workshop areas of socio-emotional intelligence will be identified as important when developing this programme. At the same time, vulnerable families, children and young people can be supported in their mentalization ability, thus gaining an increased sense of cohesion and inclusive communities, as well as further developing their own socio-emotional intelligence.

Anne Linder, Aut. Psychologist, author and center manager of the Danish Center for ICDP

Stina Nani. Aut. Psychologist, author and psychologist responsible for treatment, Familycenter Kalvehave, in Vordingborg Municipality.

Camila Devis-Rozental, Dprof, Senior Lecturer in Learning Development, Bournemouth University, UK; IPPAed UK Regional Representative

Session leaders are:

Mette Marie Ledertoug
Mette Marie Ledertoug
Ph.D, Postdoc in Positive Education at DPU/Aarhus University,
Short Bio ProfilePublications
Nanna Paarup
Nanna Paarup
learning consultant, author, educator & coach,
Short Bio Profile Publications

More than 26 % of Danish students are bored in school. They are bored so often and to such an extent it is affecting their health, their well-being and their learning. Similar results are found in international research. “The Battle against Boredom” is the theme for a workshop based on research in Boredom and in Positive Education using PERMA as a framework. In the workshop research results are presented and the participants are introduced to the PERMA-framework with hands-on exercises for the different elements of P-E-R-M-A; Positive emotions, engagement, relations, meaning, accomplishment and also character strengths in order to reduce boredom and increase optimal learning and well-being in schools.


Fred A.J. Korthagen
Fred A.J. Korthagen
Utrecht University & Korthagen Professional Development
The Netherlands

How can we help teachers and students bring out the best in themselves? Based on positive psychology and insights from the cognitive behavioral approach, Fred Korthagen and his colleagues developed a coaching approach that helps people build on their strengths and overcome inner obstacles. The approach is called Core Reflection and is in use in a variety of countries, at all educational levels.

The approach is based on three principles:
1. Helping people become aware of and use their character strengths;
2. Helping people become aware of and overcome inner obstacles;
3. Helping people become self-directed and autonomous in using 1 and 2.

The importance of Core Reflection is that it translates positive psychology to a coaching method that is useful for both teacher and student learning. Within two days, teachers can learn how to use the approach effectively with colleagues and students.
Various research studies show that Core Reflection leads to enduring transformational learning in individuals and creates flow in schools (Korthagen, Kim, & Greene, 2013). Through various small activities the workshop participants will learn about the framework of Core Reflection and experience the effect of the approach themselves.

Korthagen, F.A.J., Kim, Y.M., & Greene, W.L. (Eds.) (2013). Teaching and Learning from Within: A Core Reflection Approach to Quality and Inspiration in Education. New York/London: Routledge.

About Fred Korthagen
Fred Korthagen is a professor emeritus of Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and Fellow of the American Educational Research Association. He published hundreds of articles on professional development and coaching, and wrote several books on these issues, which appeared in eight languages. He received various international awards for his work.
Currently he is the director of his own private organization, Korthagen Professional Development , which works with schools and universities all over the world. For more