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35 Paths to Wellbeing and Better Learning Results


On our journey to amplify student voice in learning, we at School Day have developed a model with five wellbeing categories including altogether 35 phenomena, which affect learning. We collect student experiences daily with our easy-to-use solution in order to make those phenomena visible to teachers and school leaders. Our Wellbeing Model 1.0 has already been tested by a number of schools, and now we have completed School Day Wellbeing Model 2.0 to cover even more factors that affect learning.

To begin developing our model, we started from a Finnish school wellbeing profile developed by Dr. Anne Konu. For our Wellbeing Model 2.0 we decided to bring together experienced teachers to brainstorm on phenomena that can either enhance or hinder learning. Then we collaborated with educational scientists at Helsinki University, to build the model further.

This is how we ended up with 35 phenomena that we feel need to be considered when building an optimal learning environment. Those phenomena include for example safety, friends, support, sleep and perseverance. All the 35 phenomena we have placed into five categories: external conditions, social relationships, means for self-fulfillment, health and social-emotional skills. Let's look at each of these categories next.

External Conditions 

Our first category contains some of the most immediate factors affecting learning, i.e. what it is like where you are. We named this category 'External Conditions' and it includes phenomena such as physical surroundings, school rules, schoolwork, safety, travel to school and devices. In this category, School Day prompts students with statements like:

There are enough breaks during the school day.
I feel safe in my learning environment.

Recent studies report a clear correlation between academic success and the learning environment, the most striking of which concerning safety. There are schools in which every sixth student feels unsafe and as a result, fails to perform well in tests. Students who feel safer are more attentive and efficient in the classroom. They also have fewer symptoms of depression. All this makes them more engaged and attentive in the classroom, which in turn enhances academic success (Science Daily).

Social Relationships 

Without a doubt, social relationships are of paramount importance to anyone of us. We all want acceptance and we rely on our closest friends, family and teachers to support us, also in learning and academic performanceFor School Day this category includes e.g. relationships with friends, teachers, family and the community around the learner. In the School Day App, students react on statements like:

I get along with everyone in our class.
There's no bullying in our school.

Any educator knows how difficult these interpersonal phenomena are to notice and understand. What you might interpret as bullying, gets explained by students by"we're friends, it was just a joke" and still, you're left wondering. At School Day we find it of utmost importance to give students a voice to report any negative experiences in real-time and without the pressure of looking cool in front of others. Every fifth student stays home from school because of bullying (UNICEF). Bullying is a massive global problem that urgently needs concrete actions. Bringing it out to the open is an excellent start.

Means for Self-Fulfillment 

Our third category might not strike you as the most obvious one, but if you think about it, it might even be the most important one. It is what Maslow calls self-actualizationWhat am I getting from all this? Am I learning? Does this take me further in life what I am doing? Can I be creative? Does this feel something that is part of me and can help me become a better me?

Much of self-fulfillment has to do with motivation. How much does it affect my learning if my motivation is not intrinsic? If I just learn all this by heart to be able to repeat it when we have a test. Maybe that's enough? Sometimes you can hear students advise each other: "Come on! You have to understand it, not just repeat it."Yes, they know better. But how can we make students feel intrinsic motivation towards learning?

Many educators believe that if we pay attention to students' interests and support their sense of being valued, give them learning support and opportunities to show what they are made of, and the feeling that they can make progress even when studying complex ideas, they will play along and get interested in what is going on in the lessons. The only problem is that this can sometimes be difficult to remember because school days are busy and there are so many other things to remember as well.

We at School Day want to help, and we have a way of making these phenomena visible in real-time and offer peer advice for teachers. Our app asks the students to react on statements such as:

I know what I'm good at.
I know I will learn this if I try hard enough.

Several studies show that there is a significant relationship between self-concept and academic performance. To develop students' self-concept and make them feel that they are becoming better versions of themselves, we can give them the feeling that they are valuable, unique and capable, but they need to make an effort to learn. It is our responsibility to offer them a stable, calm and coherent environment in which to do so, challenge them and show them compassion. In that sense, we can agree with W.B. Yeats who wrote: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."


Health, in turn, is for most of us a self-explanatory factor in academic achievement. Who can learn when they are hungry or in pain, haven't slept enough or have too many other things on their minds? Our School Day Wellbeing App asks the students to react on statements such as:

I eat a warm meal every day.
I am not tired at school.

Physiological factors are easy to measure and compare. There are schools in which almost half of their students suffer from hunger during the school day and it negatively impacts their academic performance. 74% of educators report having students who regularly come to school hungry. And it doesn't end there. Mental health issues are a growing concern also in schools. 20% of the world's children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems. Again, the crucial part of solving this problem is finding out where your school stands in this and bringing it out in the open for school staff and parents to discuss.

Social-Emotional Skills 

At the beginning of this article, I explained how the School Day Wellbeing Model was first created. To develop the existing model further we decided to add a category called social-emotional skills including the phenomena perseverance, future orientation, dealing with stress, empathy, trust, creativity, interest and open-mindedness as well as critical thinking. Our app prompts students with statements such as:

I will try again if I fail.
It's easy for me to understand others.

Research shows that students' perseverance and attitude towards the subject at hand has a great contribution to academic achievement. Around the world, experts are worried about the lack of empathy in our modern society. Our new national curriculum here in Finland states that developing students' empathy skills is one of the most important goals for education; to make our future grown-ups able to think about others and trust each other, deal with their stress, keep up their efforts even when there are obstacles on the way, and also maintain creativity, open-mindedness and critical thinking.

School Day Wellbeing Model 2.0 

These are the five categories of our Wellbeing Model 2.0. They include altogether 35 phenomena that we think are crucial for learning. Our model will most probably grow in the future, and it has overlap and interplay between categories. However, it does provide both us and schools an enormous amount of valuable data on the factors that affect learning. As our solution includes interplay, so does our future development. The data we get helps us to develop in the future and the development will help us get more data.

Take it for a spin and let us know what you think! We hope that it will fill your school days with empathy, trust and happiness! Contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

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