Psychological Capital Thesis

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Psychological Capital and Learners K-12

Throughout its long history, psychology developed into a field that deals largely with abnormal conditions. Recently, a new trend has developed within the field that highlights positive psychological attributes and the ability used them to provide a more productive and meaningful life. Rather than focusing on he negative aspects of a person's psyche, psychological capital focuses on uses positive traits such as self-efficacy, hope, resiliency and personal motivation to drive the person to greater achievement. This research will explore the psychological capital that is represented by resiliency and its impact on academic achievement in Middle School learners in grades 6-8. This study will examine the development of resiliency and the factors that contribute to it throughout the child's school career.

The presence of Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) arose from the concept of psychological capital. POB is the result of positive psychological capital, such as hope, self-efficacy, optimism, and resiliency that results in measurable changes in behavior in the person. The concept of POB can be translated into the educational setting by examining factors such as school behavior, attendance, and academic success. This research will explore the relationship between psychological capital and Positive Organizational Behavior among school children in grades 6-8.

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Resiliency refers to a positive way of coping with danger or stress. The resilient child can overcome conflict, failure, and changes in the school and family environment. Many times, the resilient child will not only survive stressful times, they will thrive and achieve great things, despite their circumstances. Learners in grades 6-8 were chosen, as this stage in their life is a transitional period. They face increased responsibility academically. They are no longer a child, but not fully a teen either. They are coping with many physical and emotional changes. Children in this stage of their life must demonstrate some level of resiliency in order to transform into teenagers and later into adults.

Thesis on Psychological Capital Assignment

This research will explore the current body of research into the area of psychological capital and its ability to affect many aspects of the academic achievement of children in grades 6-8. It will focus on the attribute of resiliency, but will also explore any related areas that provide a deeper understanding of current research into this area. The research will support the thesis that students who are resilient perform better academically than those who lack resiliency. It will explore this topic through an examination of existing literature on the subject.

Research into Resiliency

Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from change. It is one of the key factors in psychological capital and will form a key portion of this research. Therefore, the first group of studies will involve an investigation of resiliency and the factors that influence it. It will not be limited to the target group of students, but will examine any aspects of resiliency that may be important to our understanding of the subject matter. Resiliency involves an adaptive process. One could consider resiliency to be the opposite of maladaptive behaviors, or mental illness.

Research into improving the welfare and academic success of America's youth began by focusing on "at risk" children. It focused on deficiencies rather than strengths. This led to studies that were concerned with psychopathology and identification of at-risk students (Patterson, 2001). During the 1980s, research shifted from psychopathology to prevention and intervention. Some schools tried to use this research to develop programs, but they found that high-risk environments did not necessarily predict academic success. Some children that were identified as at-risk due to environmental factors went on to become quite successful. These experiences led to a new era of research that focused on how to promote resiliency, rather than identify children at-risk. This group of research studies resulted in an understanding of the importance or caring relationships and support from the family and community (Patterson, 2001).

Erik Eriksson (1968) proposed the psychosocial learning theory. According to this theory, children go through a series of stages in their psychosocial development. These stages are Hope, Will, Purpose, Competence, Fidelity, Love, Care, and Wisdom. The first stage occurs from birth to approximately 18 months old. During this stage, the child develops their sense of trust through their experiences with nurture and care from their parents. If the child does not feel that they are properly cared for and handled at this stage, it may result in the development of insecurity and mistrust in the world when they grow up.

The second stage is "will," which occurs between 18 months to 3 years. At this point, the child begins to build self-esteem, the ability to know right from wrong, and to be proud of themselves. This stage can set the stage for the future, as children are especially vulnerable to criticism from others. Preschoolers (age 3-5) are in the "Purpose" stage. During this stage, the child tries to copy adults using play situations. They begin to question "why" things happen, sometimes nonstop. They are beginning to explore their social role in the world. School Aged children from 6-12 years are in the "competence" stage. During this stage, the child is learning many new pieces of information. If the child experiences feelings of failure, they may develop low self-esteem. The child begins to experience more than their parent's views.

From age 12-18 the person experiences a key change. Up to this point, the development of the child depended on what was done to them by others. At this stage development depends on what a person does for themselves. They begin to develop their own sense of morality and what they believe in. The young adult from age 18-35 wishes to settle down and seek companions in life. The middle-aged adult is in the care stage. During this stage the person is trying to develop their sense of general purpose outside of their family. The late adult through death stage is a time of reflection. Here the person can look back on their life and get a sense of contribution from their lives. They may also reflect upon their failures. They try to find the meaning of their life.

Eriksson's theories for a framework from which to view the stages in a person's life. In response to this study, one must look at Eriksson's work and try to determine which of these stages have the greatest impact on resiliency and what these various stages contribute to personal resiliency. One must examine which stage has the greatest impact on resiliency and what can happen during each of the stages to affect resiliency throughout their lives.

School-aged children are in their competency stage of development. They have already progressed through their infant and preschool psychosocial development stages. Much of their psychosocial world is already shaped by the time that they get to their school years. The school can do little to change what happened to them in their early years. Unfortunately, if the child has had negative experiences that led to poor psychosocial development, it can have an affect on their ability to cope at school. The early years can set a child up for success or failure, academically and socially at school.

Children who have spent their early years in a nurturing environment have a sense of trust and confidence in their ability to succeed. Those who were not so fortunate may have issues that set them up for failure in their own minds. This is where resilience theory and the work of Eriksson fit together. A child that already has the tools necessary for success will be more likely to be resilient in school. However, the child that had a poor environment for psychosocial development may not be resilient. The real question that must be asked by researchers is whether children who grew up in a poor environment for psychosocial development can be taught to be resilient. Helping these children should be a primary concern for researchers of resiliency and academic achievement.

Wallace (2008) proposed and interesting theory by comparing pathological resilience domains to and ecosystem. Ecosystems demonstrate resilience and the ability to recover from trauma in many circumstances. Wallace compares the human psyche to an ecosystem in its ability to recover from shocks and traumas. Wallace felt that the ecosystem in a state of stress was the best situation in which to study resilience. In a healthy state, one cannot learn about coping mechanisms. Therefore, his work centered on mental illness and the disease state of the mind body for his exploration of resilience.

According to this theory, an ecosystem seeks to obtain and maintain a state of stability and equilibrium. The ability of the ecosystem to recover and return to a state of equilibrium is the essence of resiliency. The same processes can be said for the human psyche. Humans continually seek to maintain a state of equilibrium. Mental disorders, such as depression, substance abuse, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) reflect a mind that is not in a state of equilibrium. The same can be said for physical diseases, such… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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