Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude

 

Gratitude in Education

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Over the past 15 years, hundreds of studies have linked gratitude to increased happiness, stronger relationships, and improved physical health; in recent years, studies on gratitude among youth suggest that it fosters more positive emotions and better attitudes toward school. In fact, the science of gratitude is now reaching a point where researchers are no longer just defining gratitude and identifying its benefits but determining the most effective ways to cultivate it.

In the new phase of its Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude project, the Greater Good Science Center will help advance the application of gratitude research. Phase Two of this project will focus heavily on how gratitude research findings can be implemented in the field of education. In particular, the project will seek innovative ways to share with educators the most effective, low-cost strategies for boosting gratitude in themselves and among their students, supporting the well-being of teachers and students alike.

Working in collaboration with Giacomo Bono of California State University, Dominguez Hills, one of the world’s leading researchers of gratitude among youth, the GGSC will:

  • Use the online, shareable “gratitude journal” that the GGSC has developed, called Thnx4.org, in order to run a three-week Gratitude Challenge, in which participating teachers would record things for which they’re grateful—a research-tested strategy for reducing stress, improving well-being, and boosting resilience. The GGSC is also planning to create a separate version of Thnx4, called Thnx4Schools, for use across entire school communities and with students.
  • Take the research-tested “Gratitude Curriculum” that Dr. Bono has developed for students from ages 8-14—validated through a series of studies—and make its language and format more “user friendly” to classroom teachers, and disseminate it to partner schools and organizations.
  • Identify best practices and principles for fostering gratitude in the classroom, based on existing gratitude science, and collaborate with teachers, schools, districts, and professional associations interested in piloting some of these research-based strategies. This approach might be especially helpful to teachers or schools that don’t have the time or resources to invest in a more formal social-emotional learning (SEL) program.
  • Lead workshops for groups of educators—in person and online—that summarize the benefits of gratitude and teach effective ways to cultivate it in teachers and students.
  • Partner with existing SEL programs—most of which have overlooked gratitude—to incorporate units on gratitude into their curricula.
 

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