The role of gratitude in higher education

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Transforming Knowledge into Wisdom Holistic Approaches to Teaching and Learning Vol. 27

July, 2004, 359 pages
Published by
ISBN
0 90 8557 58 2
Abstract 

“Once I had an innermost attitude of gratefulness I found the world to be a different place. The class was not as long and I seemed to be more attentive because I was trying to use my time there wisely.” Margaret is one of hundreds of students who have found that the practice of gratitude while partaking in academic study not only leads to greater engagement and motivation but also a deeper understanding of concepts and academic texts. However, the importance of this profound practice is overlooked in most teaching and learning pedagogy, with due consequence not only for the increased impetus that gratitude could bring to the university community, but also the added dimension it could give to the academic learning process itself. This paper will outline the finer distinctions that are needed to discern the meaning of the term “gratitude” in an academic context and offer suggestions as to its relevance as a way of thinking in higher education. Rather than seeing gratitude as something one might practise separately from one’s academic life, the paper argues for the place of both students’ and teachers’ gratitude in the enhancement of academic learning. This will be illustrated with an example of how gratitude was introduced as a practice in two academic contexts, with positive outcomes reported by students when they applied this to their study of mainstream subjects.

Keywords: Gratitude; student engagement; learning strategies.

The role of gratitude in higher education

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Howells, K.