Study with Strength was initiated due to numerous requests by upper secondary schools: twelve general upper secondary schools in Finland have participated in the project and two general upper secondary schools from Sweden. The project is a mixed methods intervention study that follows a randomized wait-list control group design. The wait-list control group design was chosen to ensure all participating students equal opportunities to learn the well-being tools of the intervention course. Study with Strength is an evidence-based intervention based on methods from applied positive psychology, positive education and cognitive behavioural therapy. The course has been administered by the participating schools’ own teachers, school psychologists, school social workers, guidance counsellors and principals. Five full in-service training days has been organised for the participating staff to introduce them thoroughly to the teaching material. The intervention materials are available to the schools for independent use after the intervention. Most of the schools have continued to offer the course after the data collection.
To answer the research questions of the quantitative study we have measured students’ levels of cortisol, oxytocin and inflammatory markers with salivary samples. The students have also completed a survey consisting of validated, standardized questionnaires, which have been widely used in similar research, such as the EPOCH Measure of Adolescent Well-being. To answer the research questions of the qualitative study we have conducted semi-structured interviews with both students and teachers. The teacher interviews are analysed using a phenomenological approach in order to understand their experience of teaching the Study with strength course. The student interviews is analysed using qualitative inductive content analysis by studying the raw data without a prepared coding framework. The aim of the inductive approach is to find patterns in the data which allowed for the exploration and identification of underlying meaning and experiences that is relevant to this study. The project group is currently working on the data analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data.
This is a joint research project between the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki and the Research Center at the Folkhälsan Foundation. Funding received 2019 and 2021 from The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.