Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Megan Tschannen-Moran

Committee Member

Christopher Gareis

Committee Member

Leslie Grant


Joy in education is an underexplored construct that could serve as the key ingredient to cultivate positive learning environments and inspire innovation. The purpose of this study was to determine how joy might flow to students and what teacher efforts, instructional decisions, and administrative supports might influence the level of joy in the classroom. The central research question was, how do schools and teachers foster joy in their students? This research was explored from a strengths-based, positive perspective with theoretical foundations in organizational flourishing and positive psychology. This study used a survey research design with a school district that was in the midst of a multi-year initiative on joy. Survey data were collected from 178 elementary school teachers from 21 schools about the perceived level of joy in their classrooms and schools, their levels of joy, teacher efforts, instructional decisions, and administrative supports received. The results showed that the perceived level of joy in the classroom correlated most strongly with the teacher’s level of joy, with a variety of teacher efforts and instructional decisions that correlate positively with perceived joy in the classroom. The strongest administrative support for the teacher’s joy was supporting teachers’ self-care. Instructional decisions to allow students to collaborate and offer opportunities for an in-depth exploration of the content contributed independently to the prediction of the classroom’s perceived level of joy. This study serves as an invitation to educators to experiment with a variety of strategies to find what makes learning a joyful endeavor in their classrooms.



© The Author