Case Study of a School Wellbeing Initiative: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Support Positive Change


  • Lea Waters University of Melbourne
  • Mathew White St Peter’s College, Adelaide, South Australia,


appreciative inquiry, positive psychology, positive organizational scholarship, educational administration, wellbeing


Drawing from the fields of positive psychology, positive organizational scholarship and educational administration, this case study reports on the process used in a large K-12 school to implement the strategic goal of fostering student wellbeing. This case study outlines the three strategic phases used to build wellbeing over a two-and-a-half-year time period: 1) development; 2) implementation; and 3) monitoring. The school aligned its change process to the goal of achieving wellbeing by adopting appreciative inquiry as the overarching change approach. Appreciative inquiry is a systematic, holistic, and collaborative methodology that follows a strengths-based model of change. Through the use of appreciative inquiry, 15 bottom-up (instigated by students and staff) and top-down (instigated by leadership) initiatives were generated over a two-and-a-half-year period. This paper provides an applied example of how AI can be woven into a strategic change process to support the wellbeing of students. The paper aims to contribute to the rapidly developing field of positive education.



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Author Biographies

Lea Waters, University of Melbourne

Professor Lea Waters

Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology

Director, Centre for Positive Psychology

Melbourne Graduate School of Education

University of Melbourne, 3010

Mathew White, St Peter’s College, Adelaide, South Australia,

Director of Positive Education and Wellbeing

St Peter’s College, Adelaide, South Australia,