Ask the Teacher: The Happiness Project

By 2018-12-20 23:26:08

The Student Wellbeing and Happiness Engineering program at Concordia International School Shanghai.

We speak to Patrick Love – HS Academic, College and Guidance Counselor at Concordia International School Shanghai – about their Student Wellbeing and Happiness Engineering program.


What is the Wellbeing and Happiness Engineering program?

This is our year-long, completely data-driven program that looks at how students experience their daily lives. We use this information to help remove roadblocks to student growth, and more effectively connect students to the amazing developmental opportunities available at Concordia.

How was it developed?

We drew inspiration from three areas and grafted them into one program. First, we looked at how students at Stanford charted their course experiences over time, and then used that information to better understand themselves, and how they responded to the highs and lows of the school year. Second, we utilized a program called Tableau, which is used in business analytics. It helps create interactive visualizations that lead to the information that best predicts student growth and success. Finally, we integrated the “Happiness Engineers” concept previously developed by Wordpress Inc. They built trusting relationships with customers, to understand them and what they want to accomplish, before guiding them to better reach their goals. This concept inspired our counselors to set up systems so that we can understand our students, and be intentional about how each can develop in every aspect of their high school journey.


Why do this at your school?

At Concordia, we already use academic achievement data to inform on teaching and learning practices. However, current research by Gallup-Purdue (and others) has shown that non-academic factors are also strong predictors of college success and lifetime happiness. By regularly looking at the student as a whole, we believe that we can better understand them, more effectively guide their development, and truly prepare them for success and happiness in life.

How do you collect the data?

Each week, we survey our high school students about their happiness, relationships, sleep, energy, motivation, and stress. We also ask if they have any specific issues they would like to address with their counselor. Once every semester, we ask the students about the amount of homework they have for each class, their focus during homework time, commute time, and teachers who they feel really care about them.


How does this information help change the school?

Understanding how students experience high school helps us to better optimize the learning environment. For example, we used to have a deadline for college applications that put a lot of pressure on our seniors. The first year we started collecting data, we noticed just how bad it was. We’ve since changed that policy, and for the past two years college application deadlines are more spread out, and result in less overall stress and better performance for students.

Why and how is the program important for student success?

Research shows that students do their best when they feel happy, rested, alert, and motivated, manage stress, and feel connected to people in their community. Our administrators, counselors, and teachers think about these things every day and work to give students the chance to maximize those areas of their lives. We’ve witnessed the social and emotional health of our students improve over time. As they apply to college, they are more a lot more in touch with how they maintain wellness, use their character strengths, and best contribute to their community.

Good to know

Concordia International School Shanghai

Tel: 5899 0380