Student perceptions of adolescent wellness
Although wellness has become a declared priority within education, a thorough exploration of the factors responsible for student wellness has yet to occur. There have been many studies with a focus on adolescent problems; however, wellness research is limited and non-holistic in its approach. This dissertation sought to explore the adolescent wellness phenomenon and the factors influencing its enhancement through the experiences of adolescents and teachers. The primary purpose of the research was to explore adolescents’ perceptions of wellness in two mid-sized Western Canadian high schools. The second purpose was to use a theoretical framework to describe the relationship between adolescent perceptions of wellness and the developmental dimensions of adolescent lives, the perceived influences on adolescent wellness, and the links between professional support (teachers) and students’ perceived levels of wellness (low, medium and high-level wellness). To accomplish this, two hundred and eighty grade eleven students completed a wellness survey. Additionally, subgroups of 22 students and 6 teachers were asked to participate in focus group discussions. It was found that wellness was a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. The study revealed that there were at least four dimensions contributing to the balance of wellness: physical (physical activity, nutrition, smoking, drugs and alcohol), psychological (self-esteem, media), spiritual and social (parents, teachers and peers). For many students, the dimensions were not considered equally important, but wellness was seen to involve maintaining a balance in life. The findings of the study indicated that modifications to particular areas of educational practice should be considered when working to promote adolescent wellness and the some of the suggested change areas include: additional professional development, school health programming and committing to school partnerships with health care professionals such as nurses. Implications for educational policy included the support for professional development related to health education, policies that fiscally support the hiring of school health nurses, and policies that are reflective of adolescent developmental stages. Among the implications for research are a need to further explore the conceptualization of adolescent wellness in youth of all ages and in schools across the Canada, as well as the need for longitudinal studies which would allow for further investigation of wellness, and its validity beyond this study.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeNoonan, Warren; Wright, Karen; Renihan, Pat; Carr-Stewart, Sheila; Lagrange, Annette
Copyright DateJune 2009