Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Graham Weir

Second Advisor

Dr. Lynda Leavitt

Third Advisor

Dr. Ed Dreyer


The present study explored the effect of instructing middle school students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades in positive psychology lessons, as compared to control classes that did not receive this positive psychology instruction. This study used quantitative procedures to determine the implementation of this curriculum on lowering student absence rate, discipline referrals, increasing student physical education grades over a trimester, improving overall grade point average, and increasing student well-being. Additionally, the study analyzed the EPOCH survey pre- and post-data on a research question regarding the well-being attitudes/perceptions of these middle school students who received positive psychology instruction in their physical education classes compared to control classes.

This study sought to provide additional data regarding how the positive psychology variables of engagement, perseverance, optimism, connectedness, and happiness, as defined by Seligman in 2009, can provide protective factors against the potential detrimental impact of inappropriate student behavior. Research about disruptive behaviors has shown that they are related to increases in students' emotional and behavioral issues (Stanley et. al., 2006). The increase in these issues demonstrates our students' needs to develop more positive character education traits that help eliminate bullying and reduce violence in our schools. The complicated relationships that our middle school students face, and their variety of needs show the importance of finding and supplying a supportive environment where middle school students feel respected and safe (Wigfield, et. al. 2006; Damon et al. 2006; Shallcross, 2015).

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