How Emoticons Help Gauge Happiness on School Children

How does happiness predict school performance?


Positive psychology proposes that happiness is a significant predictor of academic success. The happier a student the better the academic performance will be.

However, most studies on happiness were focused on adolescence and adults, not on children. Although there are few types of research on children’s happiness, most of them focused on what makes children happy not how happy they are.

Measuring children’s emotions is challenging. But the latest research has an answer. Researchers used emoticons to measure children’s level of happiness. Researchers believed that emoticons could help to capture children’s feelings.

Kate Allen and her colleagues developed How I Feel About My School (HIFAMS) scale. The scale allows children to respond to emoticon-like facial expressions. There are seven questions that are answerable by sad (0), OK (1) and Happy (2). The total score is the sum of individual items. The total score can range from 0 to 14. The higher the score the happier the children.

However, it is not clear how high in a high score. In other words, how can we say that a child is happy? Nonetheless, the simplicity of the scale allows researchers to assess young children’s feelings appropriately. However, the scale is not free from flaws. Because the scale is relatively new, researchers suggest further testing in a larger sample.

“This study suggests that HIFAMS is a promising measure that assesses happiness in the school setting, demonstrates moderate reliability and discriminated between groups of children expected to have differing experiences of school even in very young children. It requires additional testing in larger samples with more varied socio-demographic backgrounds in order to better understand how it functions.”

Needless to say, the scale is capable of evaluating children’s affect. Parents, teachers, and researchers can now assess young school children’s level of happiness.

Finally, the authors noted:

“HIFAMS is a promising measure that demonstrates moderate reliability and discriminates between groups even among very young children.”

To conclude, although HIFAMS is a new scale of happiness, it can be of great help in understanding children feelings.

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