SUCCESS Materials – English

Character Strengths – Theoretical Background – The Principles of Strengths-Based Practice

The Principles of Strengths-Based Educational Practice   

Although positive psychology does not provide a coherent theoretical explanation of career choice and development, it provides key implication of ideas for building a healthy engagement with work and career, a crucial element of sustainable wellbeing (Robertson, 2015).

Character strengths among youth and adults are considered to be relatively stable across time, research revealed that character strengths show interpretable developmental trajectories (Park & Peterson, 2009). Character strengths are influenced both by nurture and nature. A variety of influences contribute to development of good character—genes, family, schools, peers, and communities. character can be cultivated by good parenting, schooling, and socialization and that it becomes instantiated through habitual action. Character development programs need to teach specific activities of strengths and encourage young people to keep using them in their daily lives (Park & Peterson, 2009).

Everyone has strengths. Strengths need to be recognized, celebrated, strengthened, and being applied regularly. According to Park & Peterson (2009), “do your best” or “be the best that you can be” is not a good way to cultivate good character. Young people need to be instructed to choose the strengths on which they want to focus, to set specific and measurable goals, and to devise concrete action plans to achieve these goals. An individualized program for cultivating character based on an individual’s character strength profile may be more effective than a general—one size fits all—program for everyone (Park & Peterson, 2009).

Change does not occur in a vacuum, and a first step in cultivating strengths of character is to legitimize a strengths vocabulary in whatever settings people happen to be. The VIA Project can be helpful by providing the words with which we can describe our own strengths and those of others, whether these are strengths that already exist or strengths that we wish to enhance or build. One needs to start using these words often enough so that they do not sound awkward or quaint (Park & Peterson, 2006; Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

Researchers and practitioners have developed the following principles that serve as the foundation for guiding and implementing strength-based practice (Rapp & Gosau, 2006; Sharry. 2004):


Strengths-based education, though is built on five modern-day educational principles: (a) the measurement of strengths, achievement and determinants of positive outcomes (b) individualization, which requires a tailoring of the teacher’s/advisor’s methods to student needs and interests, (c) networking with friends, family, and professionals who affirm strengths, (d) deliberate application of strengths in and out of the classroom and (e) intentional development of strengths through novel experience or focused practice across a period such as a semester, academic year, or an internship.