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PISA in Focus

PISA in Focus is a series of monthly education policy-oriented notes designed to describe a PISA topic in a concise, user-friendly way.

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Are students happy?

PISA 2015 results: students’ well-being

Schools are not only places where students acquire academic skills; they are also social environments where children can develop the social and emotional competencies that they need to thrive. Yet despite the global interest in students’ well-being, there is no consensus on which policies or curriculum changes are needed to improve adolescents’ quality of life at school.

The data from PISA 2015 show that students differ greatly, both between and within countries, in how satisfied they are with their life, in their motivation to achieve, in how anxious they feel about their schoolwork, in their participation in physical activities, in their expectations for the future, in their experiences of being bullied by their peers, and in their perceptions of being treated unfairly by their teachers. Many of these differences are related to students’ feelings about the disciplinary climate in the classroom and about the support their teachers give them.

PISA 2015 data show that schoolwork-related anxiety is common among adolescents. Often, this anxiety is students’ reaction to, and interpretation of, the mistakes they make – or are afraid to make. Students whose motivation to do well at school mostly originates from fear of disappointing others or the desire to do better than their peers are more likely to report anxiety at school. It is important that schools identify those students who suffer from severe anxiety and teach these students methods to learn from mistakes and manage their stress.

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