An evaluation of the power of kindness in primary aged children: a whole-class intervention

Quinn, Sophie (2020). An evaluation of the power of kindness in primary aged children: a whole-class intervention. University of Birmingham. Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.

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Kindness has been considered ‘the new cool’ (Rowland, 2018), after research has revealed links with improved health, relationships and well-being (Curry et al., 2018). In this study, kindness is central to a whole-class intervention where children are encouraged to develop and practice this virtue. Two theories underpin the programme: positive psychology (Peterson and Seligman, 2004) and neo-Aristotelian character education (Sanderse, 2012).

A mixed methods design was used to evaluate the impact of the six-week intervention on children’s wellbeing, peer acceptance and kindness compared to a control group. Self-report measures were used at three time points – pre-intervention, post-intervention and after a six-week follow up period – alongside a teacher interview and child focus group, post-intervention. Quantitative data revealed that the kindness intervention had no significant effects on well-being, peer acceptance and kindness in children, whilst teacher and child reports indicated positive improvements in prosocial behaviours, emotional regulation and virtue literacy. Interestingly, quantitative correlations indicated a relationship between kindness and both peer acceptance and well-being. The divergence in findings led to critical consideration of data collection methods and possible confounding factors. Teacher and child reports should be treated with caution due to a relatively small number of participants and the possible influence of a response bias. This research highlights the challenges of intervention-based research in schools and possible solutions including an investment in robust training. Children offered invaluable perspectives in helping to understand the outcomes of the study.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.
Licence: All rights reserved All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education, Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LC Special aspects of education


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