Social and emotional wellbeing in international school students aged 3-19

Year: 2015

Author: Cooker, Lucy, Bailey, Lucy, Stevenson, Howard, Joseph, Stephen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper will examine challenges and affordances to supporting students’ social and emotional wellbeing in international environments, and is based on a study of wellbeing in case-study international schools in five contrasting international contexts. We will look at the relationships between a school’s cultural context and factors affecting students’ wellbeing.

The mixed methods used for the study included 75 semi-structured interviews with staff and students and an online survey of over 1000 students measuring student social and emotional wellbeing. Drawing on a theoretical framework informed by the work of Keyes (2006), Seligman (2011), and Huebner (2011), social and emotional wellbeing was conceptualised as a life in school and beyond in which there is connectedness in terms of positive relationships with family members, friends and teachers; engagement; happiness; perseverance; optimism; social acceptance and contribution; emotional stability; vitality; and resilience. The qualitative data were analysed using NVivo to conduct a thematic analysis, whilst the quantitative data were analysed using SPSS, to understand factors impacting on this conceptualisation of wellbeing.

From these analyses, three key aspects of social and emotional wellbeing were identified:

1. Cultural differences
• Social inclusion
• Transitions into and out of school

The paper will conclude by suggesting ways to better support the development of international students’ social and emotional wellbeing in school, and the ways in which their wellbeing more generally can be developed.