Defining and Promoting Student Well-Being: American and International Colleges

Defining and Promoting Student Well-Being: American and International Colleges

Lynne Orr, Kathrine Pigeon, Brianna Reyes, Linda Weekley
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1185-5.ch002
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The chapter includes a summary of how American and international colleges define students' wellbeing. American colleges began using wellbeing within the practice of positive psychology. Now, colleges in the United States use the term health and wellness, which encompasses a multidimensional meaning including psychological, social, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. The international colleges primarily define wellbeing as subjective wellbeing, dependent upon the students' perceptions, culture, and social support. A few wellness assessments will be introduced. The remainder of the chapter discusses varying wellness programs conducted on today's American college campuses.
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Defining Student Well-Being On American College Campus

Seligman, Ernst, Gillham, Reivich, and Linkins (2009) mention three factors on why colleges should be concerned with students’ well-being. First, the prevalence of depression and anxiety among adolescents has increased. Second, Americans are less satisfied with life and happiness, in comparison to 50 years ago. Third, improved well-being leads to better learning. According to Seligman et al., “more well-being is synergistic with better learning” (p. 294). Seligman et al. (2009) believe well-being can be taught in school “as a vehicle for increasing life satisfaction, and as an aid to better learning and more creative thinking” (p. 294).

Subjective Well-Being

Overall, four models of well-being on American college campuses are currently available. One of these models is subjective well-being (SWB). SWB comes from a psychological perspective which influences a person’s level of anxiety and depression. There seems to be some overlap of subjective well-being with positive psychology, yet there is a greater emphasis on measuring neurosis and creating implementation strategies for improving neurosis. Ratelle, Simard, and Guay’s (2013) study mentions the importance of SWB among college students, because “SWB has also been associated with important outcomes, such as educational aspirations, academic engagement, class attendance, educational track/choice of field of study, and academic achievement, and dropout” (p. 894). The study’s purpose was to examine students perceived social support. Kim and Kim (2017) studied the impact social networking has on SWB. Munzel, Meyer-Waarden, and Galan (2018) also investigated the influence of social networking upon students’ SWB. Overall, many of the studies on college students’ SWB have been primarily conducted in other countries. Thus, the use of SWB among American colleges has been less popular, in comparison to Asian, European, and Canadian colleges. Hartman, Evans, and Anderson (2017) implemented a credit-based leisure education course to promote adaptive coping skills and SWB.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Positive Psychology: A term applied in higher education as the study of the life satisfaction and happiness of a person.

Health and Wellness: Higher education institutions apply this term to students’ health and wellbeing.

Wellbeing: Interchangeable with wellness, a state of wellness.

Subjective Wellbeing: Refers to the individual perceptions on their own wellbeing.

Wellness: Interchangeable with wellbeing, a state of wellness.

Psychosocial Wellbeing: Refers to both the psychological and social wellbeing of a person.

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