The achievement-well-being trade-off in education

The idea that pupil wellbeing and effective learning go hand in hand is an important tenet of progressive educational theory. Since ‘deep’, genuine learning is supposed to be invigorating and joyful, education that does not live up to these ideals tends to be seen as ineffective and wasteful. Progressive theory has therefore come to highlight the relationship between pupil-led learning, enjoyment, and performance as a virtuous circle. Yet little rigorous evidence has been presented in favour of this assumption. Indeed, the paper presents evidence showing to the contrary that effective learning is often not enjoyable. Rather, several interventions and strategies – such as homework, school competition, and traditional teaching methods – involve an achievement-happiness trade-off. In this report, CfEE lead economist Gabriel Heller-Sahlgren discusses the evidence for and against the progressive theory of the relationship between pupil wellbeing and achievement; alternative conceptualisations; and whether that of trade-offs between different educational goals should be taken more seriously.

author
Heller-Sahlgren, Gabriel
series
Research report
language
ENG
Series volume
14
Institutions
Centre for Education Economics (UK)
date
2018
Pages
29 p.
regions
Asia and the Pacific
Europe
Americas and the Caribbean
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themes
Educational psychology
Pays
UK
Australia
Belgium
Canada
Chile
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Japan
Korea DPR
Luxembourg
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
USA
levels
Primary education
Secondary education

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