Girls between the ages of 9 and 13 perceive kindness in school more than boys, research from UBC’s Okanagan campus shows.
In a study of more than 1,700 students between Grades 4 and 8, girls were shown to notice acts of kindness in schools significantly more than boys.
“Students’ perception of the amount of kindness present in schools is an important indicator of school culture,” says John-Tyler Binfet, an assistant professor of Education at UBC Okanagan. “Students’ perception of kindness could be an important indication of the extent to which a school promotes empathy, student development, and learning.
“There is a large body of research that supports the theory that schools that don’t have a culture that supports kindness actually have increased levels of aggression, compromised classroom behaviour, and decreased academic achievement.”
Binfet’s recent study, “Measuring Kindness at School: Psychometric Properties of a School Kindness Scale (SKS) for Children and Adolescents,” was conducted in public schools in the Central Okanagan School District in 2014.
Students were asked to indicate if they strongly agreed or disagreed with statements like, “Kindness happens regularly in my classroom,” and “My teacher is kind.”
Similar to other studies of school climates, results from SKS indicate that students’ perception of kindness decreased from Grades 4 to 8.
Binfet believes the School Kindness Scale is the first step in determining students’ perceptions of school kindness, but more research must be done in order to understand why girls perceive more kindness in school than boys.
“Focusing on students’ strengths within schools encourages students’ talents, competence and abilities,” he says. “We must work hard to emphasize kindness in schools in order to increase students’ well-being and long-term success in life.”
To learn more about the School Kindness Scale, visit: education.ok.ubc.ca/research/scaleofkindness