International Education Research

International Education Research

ISSN: 2291-5273 (Print)    ISSN: 2291-5281 (Online)

Volume 4 (2016), No. 2, Pages 1-13

DOI: 10.12735/ier.v4n2p01

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Investigating Meaningful Happiness and Wellbeing in College Students through a ‘Curriculum of Giving’ Outdoor Education Program

Thomas W. Nielsen1  Jennifer Ma2 

1Faculty of Education, Science, Technology, and Mathematics, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
2Centre for Mental Health Research, Research School of Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia


To Cite this Article     Article Views: 1307     Downloads: 644  Since deposited on 2016-08-15


As part of a two-week outdoor education expedition, 18 high school and college students (11 males and 7 females) were engaged in evidence-based wellbeing activities, such as journaling, three new gratitudes, and meditation. Using a mixed methods approach, the aim was to investigate the impact of these activities - conceptualised as a 'curriculum of giving.' Wellbeing was measured qualitatively via interviews and journals, and quantitatively using the Flourishing Scale (FS) across four time points. Qualitative data showed that the wellbeing activities facilitated students’ connection and gratitude towards nature, promoted self-reflection, and a shift in values and worldviews toward social concern. Together with the quantitative data which showed a statistically significant increase in FS scores from pre-trip to post-trip, the results of this in-depth case study support the growing body of literature showing that forms of altruism performed regularly are beneficial to wellbeing and meaningful happiness.

Keywords: giving, meaning, wellbeing, outdoor education, students

To Cite this Article: Nielsen, T. W., & Ma, J. (2016). Investigating meaningful happiness and wellbeing in college students through a ‘curriculum of giving’ outdoor education program. International Education Research, 4(2), 1-13.

Copyright © T. W. Nielsen & J. Ma

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This article is published under license to Science and Education Centre of North America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Investigating Meaningful Happiness and Wellbeing in College Students through a ‘Curriculum of Giving’ Outdoor Education Program