Effectiveness of Kindness Intervention Studies: Integrating a Kindness Persuasive Technology into a Regular University Course
Workum, Evelien van
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Many students experience mental health problems, but do not easily ask for help. Fortunately, prior studies found that kindness interventions can both help improve their well-being and might be beneficial for the quality of their teamwork. In a kindness intervention, people (often repeatedly) perform or reflect upon performing a few acts of kindness (e.g., helping or thanking someone) within a specified timeframe. As acts of kindness do not require much time, money or effort and many students experience high levels of stress, a kindness intervention is very suited for students to improve their well-being. Therefore, we designed and implemented a kindness intervention for students specifically and integrated it in four university courses involving teamwork. To investigate its effectiveness, we performed both a quantitative and a qualitative study. In the quantitative study, we integrated the kindness intervention in the digital learning environment of four courses, and planned to investigate both the completion rate of the kind activities by students and the effect these have on subjective well-being and teamwork in an experiment with a 2x4 between-subjects and repeated-measures design. In the qualitative study, we investigated factors influencing the participation, engagement and retention in this kindness intervention study via focus groups and interviews with students, teaching assistants, lecturers and educationalists. Because of a very low participation rate, no conclusions could be drawn from the quantitative study. However, the qualitative study resulted in both many and a diverse range of guidelines on how (not) to design, integrate and implement a kindness intervention in university coursework. Future research is needed to study the effect of performing kind activities on teamwork. Furthermore, future studies may benefit from the discovered guidelines to improve their effectiveness.