Capturing the impact of a program designed to improve student well-being: Development and refinement of a scale assessing thriving in university


In addition to the academic stress innate to pursuing higher education, university students experience uncertainty, practical challenges, and social changes that impact student well-being. Resilience training focused on goal-oriented, value-driven behaviour, mindfulness, and emotional regulation has been shown to have positive impacts among university students; however, resilience is only one component of well-being or "thriving". Thriving students exhibit resilience and engage in purpose development, self-appraisal, self-awareness, and healthy lifestyle behaviours. The objective of the current analysis was the refinement of a scale to assess thriving among university students enrolled in a well-being program. The initial 71-item scale was developed through a literature review and expert consultation. University students then completed the online thriving scale as part of a package of measures pre (N=288) and post (n=119) delivery of the well-being program. Exploratory factor analysis indicated a 15-factor, 36-item solution accounting for 60% of the total variance. Further refinement of readability and alignment with the curriculum resulted in a final 34-item scale with strong internal consistency (pre=0.87, post=0.91). Correlations with measures of resilience revealed significant, moderate relationships (r=0.45 and 0.51). Following completion of the program, students scored more positively on thriving (M=8.4%, p<.001) with the largest improvements seen in journaling, sleep, and emotion management. The thriving scale represents a reliable measure for capturing multiple elements of and approaches to success for a university student. Findings underscore that thriving is related to, but not synonymous with, resilience, and that the current wellbeing-program was effective.

Acknowledgments: Dr. Elizabeth Cawley; RBC Foundation