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A Paradigm Shift: Integration of Positive Psychology into the Schools and Implications for Assessment. Sarah Napolitan, Ed.S., NCSP Bensalem Township School District Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Overview. The Medical Model History, Origin, and Shortcomings Positive Psychology

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Sarah Napolitan, Ed.S., NCSP Bensalem Township School District Indiana University of Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    11. Positive Psychology and School Psychology, Who Benefits?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    18. Positive Programming: Resiliency and the Developmental Assets

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

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

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

    22. Positive Psychological Approaches to Assessment for School Psychologists

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

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

    25. Positive Psychological Assessments: Strengths

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

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

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

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

    30. Positive Psychological Assessments: Personality

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

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

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

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

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

    36. Positive Assessment: School Success and School Environment

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

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

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

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

    41. Positive Approaches to the Psychoeducational Evaluation Process

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

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

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

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

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

    47. Application to Intervention

    48. Application to Intervention

    49. Application to Intervention

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