Developing an "Attitude of Gratitude": 4-H School Enrichment for Youth in 4th and 5th Grades
Rose, Kelly M.
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Youth today are exposed to a great number of stressors. Standardized testing, peer pressure, and even product marketing stress youth and have negative effects on their mental health. Many studies have supported a positive correlation between gratitude and positive outcomes in adults, but there are few studies that focus on youth. The project reported here had three objectives for youth in grades and 4 and 5: improve written communication skills by creating handmade notes, improve positive social interaction, and increase gratitude scores. Five classrooms were randomly assigned to either the treatment or control conditions. A gratitude assessment was administered to students in the participating 4th and 5th grade classrooms (n=123) prior to the interventions, again immediately following the interventions and finally three-weeks post-interventions. All participating classrooms were provided with blank note cards, envelops, inkpads and stamps. Both groups received instruction on the mechanics of writing a note and addressing an envelope for five consecutive school days. The treatment group was instructed to focus on gratitude while the control group wrote about daily activities. Written communication skills were assessed on the first day of instruction and again on the final day of instruction. The project results reflected modest gains in both writing skills, gratitude, and improved behavior for most classes, but none proved statistically significant with a two-tailed, independent t-test and the effect size was small. Qualitative data was encouraging as teachers were interested in implementing the project for the following school year with a few modifications.