Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon M. Suldo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Menon Mariano, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


subjective well-being, positive psychology, academic engagement, reciprocal relationship


The current study aimed to replicate and extend recent research by Ng, Huebner, and Hills (2015) by investigating the longitudinal, bidirectional relationship between life satisfaction and academic achievement among adolescents. Specifically, students’ baseline (Time 1) life satisfaction was examined as a predictor of academic achievement (as measured by GPA, FCAT-reading DSS scores, attitudes toward school, and goal valuation) one year later (Time 2). The same four academic achievement variables at Time 1 were also examined as a predictor of life satisfaction one year later at Time 2. Positive affect and negative affect were examined as moderators of those relationships. An archival data set that included data from 425 high school students was analyzed. In contrast to findings from prior research, results of four regression analyses indicated that life satisfaction was not a significant predictor of later academic skills (i.e., GPA, FCAT-reading DSS) or academic engagement (i.e., goal valuation, attitude towards school), although there was bivariate support for a link between Time 1 life satisfaction and later academic engagement. When academic variables were considered as predictors of later life satisfaction, there was bivariate support for the relationship between Time 1 GPA and Time 2 life satisfaction. In contrast to hypotheses, regression analyses failed to support a significant relationship between initial academic skills and later life satisfaction. However, moderated regression analyses indicated that academic skills (i.e., GPA, FCAT-reading DSS) predict later life satisfaction for students with greater initial emotional well-being (i.e., low negative affect, high positive affect). In regard to academic engagement, there was bivariate support for a small relationship between initial academic engagement and later life satisfaction, but regression analyses and moderated regression analyses failed to support that relationship. Analyses indicate that initial positive affect was a significant predictor of later life satisfaction and later goal valuation, which supports Frederickson’s (2009) broaden and build theory of positive emotions. Findings of the current study highlight the importance of promoting positive emotions among students, in part as a means to improve life satisfaction and cognitive engagement in school. The current study also provides support for offering mental health services to students with relatively high GPAs and standardized test scores who also experience symptoms of internalizing disorders (i.e., low positive affect, high negative affect). Finally, findings from the current study taken in conjunction with findings reported by Ng et al. (2015) suggest that middle school may be the optimal time for interventions aimed at improving students’ subjective well-being.