Establishing the effectiveness of a gratitude diary intervention on children’s sense of school belonging

Assignment type: Research Project (Applied Research Project, Year 1)
Authors: Tara Diebel, Colin Woodcock, Claire Cooper & Catherine Brignell
Submitted: 2011

Aim: The promotion of wellbeing in schools using evidence-based interventions from the field of Positive Psychology is a growing area of interest. These interventions are based on the principle that sustainable changes in wellbeing can be achieved through regularly engaging in simple and intentional activities. This study examines the effectiveness of a school-based gratitude diary intervention to promote school belonging for primary school aged pupils (age range 7-11 years).

Method: The intervention took place in a one form entry primary school for four weeks and involved participants writing a diary about things that they were either grateful for in school that day or about neutral school events.

Findings: Participants who completed the gratitude intervention demonstrated enhanced school belonging and gratitude relative to the control group, although this was moderated by gender with the gratitude diary showing clearer benefits for males. Increases in gratitude were positively correlated with increases in school belonging.

Limitations: The lack of a follow-up measure meant that it was not determined whether positive outcomes were maintained. Participants’ diary entries were not analysed for content.

Conclusions: The findings extend the evidence base concerning the use of gratitude diaries with children and indicate that this intervention can be beneficial for children younger than research has previously demonstrated. This study also illustrates how a gratitude diary intervention can be used to build social resources and makes a novel connection between gratitude and sense of belonging. Implications for how this simple intervention has the potential to have a systemic impact on the wellbeing of pupils and staff are discussed.

This assignment has been revised and published as an article:

Diebel, T., Woodcock, C., Cooper, C. & Brignell, C. (2016) Establishing the effectiveness of a gratitude diary intervention on children’s sense of school belonging. Educational & Child Psychology, 33(2), 105-117.

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