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Title: Towards a context-specific theory of flourishing : explorations on the meaning, measurement, and policy implications of flourishing in higher education
Author: Gokcen, Esrin
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2013
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Positive psychology has emerged as an antidote to the negativistic focus of mainstream psychology and human flourishing has recently been identified as its underlying aim. Flourishing is also the aim of positive education, an applied area of positive psychology that uses wellbeing theories and research on students in educational settings. Although there are several positive psychological theories of flourishing, a key limitation of these is “contextlessness,” or the tendency to neglect the role of context in flourishing. I argue there are three specific facets of contextlessness: in the conceptualisation of flourishing, in its measurement, and in the relationships between flourishing and its wider contexts. To address this gap, I present a series of exploratory studies aimed at contextualising flourishing. Higher education was selected as an appropriate setting for this work as positive education is limited at tertiary level and would benefit from contextualised understandings of flourishing. Findings of the studies – both qualitative and quantitative – provided novel and insightful understandings of flourishing as it is understood by students in higher education, aided the development and validation of a psychometric tool that measures context-specific flourishing in higher education, and enabled the exploration of flourishing in higher education in the political, economic, and cultural contexts within which higher education operates. Overall, results suggest flourishing in higher education is a complex and unique notion not always accountable by extant positive psychological theories. The thesis culminates in the proposition of a new theoretical framework, complementing extant theories, which enables flourishing to be understood and researched with greater recognition of the role of context. Further implications of the research and suggestions for the future are discussed with regard to the findings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral