Catrine Kostenius and Ulrika Bergmark, Associate Professor of Education, have for a year followed 15 pupils in grade 3 at a primary school in a smaller city in northern Sweden. The purpose has been to find out what school situations that students experience as meaningful and how these experiences can guide educational improvement. Meaningful school situations entail, for example, meetings and specific events that students value for their learning, development, and well-being. Such situations can make a valuable difference for the students involved.
The researchers' analysis resulted in four themes:
- Having the opportunity to learn in different spaces.
- Being free and able to participate.
- Experiencing caring and sharing.
- Recognizing one’s own growth and achievement.
The findings suggest that situations students find meaningful involve aspects of both learning and well-being. The practical implication for these results is that student-generated qualitative data can help indicate needs for educational improvement.
Importance of appreciation
– We have not wanted to identify problems but have had the perspective to look at what works, and we see in our research that it is something that the children can describe. They can link health and learning, even though they are no more than ten years old, says Ulrika Bergmark.
The children in the study “Students’ experiences of meaningful situations in school” emphasize the importance of appreciation, being seen and heard, and that someone see their contribution as an important foundation for their enjoyment and well-being at school.
– Appreciation is more than compliments. It's not about curling – the kids are are involved themselves. Instead, we raise the level of their influence and participation. Participation is a pillar of health promotion, says Catrine Kostenius.