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Happiness and positivity in the higher education context: an empirical study

Salem Alteneiji (Education Department, Higher Colleges of Technology, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Nizar Mohammad Alsharari (Department of Accounting, Finance, and Entrepreneurship, College of Business, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi, USA)
Rasha Mohamed AbouSamra (Business Department, Higher Colleges of Technology, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Roudaina Houjeir (Business Department, Higher Colleges of Technology, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 9 January 2023

Issue publication date: 24 January 2023




This study aims to explore the relationship between students' happiness, stress and emotional closeness to others to help move toward evidence-based practices in the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) higher education. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study is to examine whether college students' perceived happiness differed significantly based on stress, frequency of stress management techniques and emotional closeness to others (social support).


An increasing number of studies suggest that the relationship between higher education and happiness is either significant or positive. However, most of these studies use life satisfaction as a proxy for happiness. The survey was conducted during the academic semester whilst students were studying, to measure happiness during the performance of different duties and to avoid the impact of having free time on raising the ratio of happiness. “This period of time was chosen to depict the study-related happiness elements during experiencing these factors by the students.” The sampling technique used in this research is the simple random sampling technique to enable the researchers to use the probability sampling techniques in testing the research hypotheses and for the purpose of generalizing the research results. The sampling unit is the student who is enrolled in the population of Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) students during the academic year 2020–2021. The sample is randomly representing all levels of students as well as all faculties and campuses of the HCT. The 400 HCT participants represented both male and female local UAE students with differing GPAs. The reason to have only one nationality is the policy of HCT that accepts only local students to be enrolled in the fall and spring semesters, which are the semesters of the data collection period of the academic year 2020–2021. Prior to completion of the survey, students were interviewed in a class environment to explain the research and to gain their consent for participation in the research. The data collection has been supported by discussions and interpretations with two focus groups including 20 students to validate the research results.


The research has statistical evidence on the relationship between the positivity of expectations and happiness with achievement. Each one of these two main factors is measured by sub-constructs like positivity about the career, conformance between expectations and reality, believing in the kindness of people, strong English language skills and feeling the fairness and similarity with other students in the same context.


The regression analysis results of this study reveal a strong positive impact of the positivity of expectations in students' perception on the level of happiness with achievements. The model is capable to predict the future behavior of the students' happiness with achievement and that it is determined by the level of positivity of expectations. This paper investigates the relationship between higher education happiness with achievements and the positivity of expectations of an undergraduate student.



Alteneiji, S., Alsharari, N.M., AbouSamra, R.M. and Houjeir, R. (2023), "Happiness and positivity in the higher education context: an empirical study", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 207-224.



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