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Constructing Models of Student Well-being with Dr. Soutter Horton

Image of University of Canterbury with students walking

In the Progressive Pedagogy group, we recognize superb, innovative educators and their classroom innovations. Today, we feature Dr. Annie Soutter Horton at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, who tells us about her research, classroom innovations, and collaboration with Professor Billy Osteen. Dr. Soutter Horton graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Psychology and Minor in Education. After a brief stint teaching intermediate school, she gained her Masters in Education at Stanford's Teacher Education Program (STEP). After several years teaching in secondary education, she and her partner relocated to New Zealand where she studied and developed a model of student well-being for her doctoral research. As a mom of five, she balances parenting with part-time research and teaching. Her work focusing on theory and pedagogy to support student engagement, health and well-being.

She is currently supervising research projects and facilitating the reflection component of a course for U.S. students studying Geology and Earth Systems in New Zealand.
Dr. Soutter Horton writes: "I have enjoyed working on applying the model of student wellbeing that I developed from a review of the economics, sociology, psychology, education and health sciences literature to explore what it means to be well. I believe student wellbeing involves attention to multiple dimensions of students’ educational experiences including: recognizing the Assets (Having, Being, Relating) students bring to the classroom, students’ ability to critically and mindfully Appraise (Think about, Feel about) the value of their Assets, and the Actions (how they Function, what they Strive for) make the best use of their Assets in their educational experiences."

"Reflection exercises, essays, class and partnered discussions may be used as a vehicle by which students can explore the extent to which their educational experiences attend to their Assets, Appraisals, and Actions in a balanced and wellbeing-supporting way."

"The beauty of a model based upon the existing (vast, and growing) literature on wellbeing, is that it is broad enough to be relevant to the individual at any given time in their development. While the aspects of wellbeing may shift in prominence (i.e. Assets may take precedence over Actions, or vice versa), this framework is designed to illustrate that multiple aspects are important for wellness. That is, focusing only on skill development without time or attention given to how one thinks or feels about the skills being acquired, will not support students holistically. One possible use for this model would be as a planning guide for teachers to use as a framework for delivering curriculum and pedagogy (e.g. 'Am I providing opportunities for students to reflect upon their learning?' or 'How can I help students to consider how the Assets they are developing could be best utilized in their future?')."

If you would like to learn more about the Student Well-being Model, please see the following research authored by Dr. Soutter Horton:

Soutter, A., O'Steen, B., & Gilmore, A. (2013). The Student Wellbeing Model: A conceptual framework for the development of student wellbeing indicators. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth. doi: 10.1080/02673843.2012.754362

Soutter, A., O’Steen, B., & Gilmore, A. (2012). Students’ and teachers’ perspectives on wellbeing in a senior secondary environment. Journal of Student Wellbeing, 5(2), 34-67.

Soutter, A., O’Steen, B., & Gilmore, A. (2012a). Wellbeing in the New Zealand Curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 44(1), 111-142.

Soutter, A. (2011). What can we learn about wellbeing in school? Journal of Student Wellbeing, 5(1), 1-21.

Soutter, A., Gilmore, A., & O’Steen, B. (2011a). How do high school youths’ educational experiences relate to well-being? Towards a trans-disciplinary conceptualization. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(4), 594-631.

Image via University of Canterbury.

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