Exploring the impact of gender identity and stereotypes on secondary pupils’ computer science enrolment interest (2023)

Authors: Eleanor Beck, Cora Sargeant and Sarah Wright
Published: 2023
Publication: International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology

There is an underrepresentation of women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries. Initiatives to encourage greater diversity in STEM have been less successful in computer science. This research investigates whether identification with gender stereotypes (defined as the extent to which one identifies with stereotypical masculine or feminine traits) and other factors predict enrolment interest in computer science and whether stereotypical cues impact on these relationships. British secondary school students were shown either a stereotypical or a non-stereotypical computer science classroom and completed measures assessing their identification with gender stereotypes, enrolment interest, belonging, stereotype threat, self-efficacy and utility value. Femininity significantly predicted lower enrolment interest and this relationship appeared to be mediated by stereotype threat. This study extends previous research by showing that young peoples’ identification with gender stereotypes predicts enrolment interest to some degree. We highlight the need to challenge persistent stereotypes regarding who best ‘fits’ computer science.

Beck, E., Sargeant, C. & Wright, S. (2023) Exploring the impact of gender identity and stereotypes on secondary pupils’ computer science enrolment interest (2023). International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 15(1), 48–71.

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Teachers’ beliefs: How they shape the support offered to trans-spectrum young people (2023)

Authors: Beckett Markland, Cora Sargeant and Sarah Wright
Published: 2023
Publication: Teaching and Teacher Education

Focus groups and an individual interview were carried out with 15 secondary school teachers in South East England, exploring their beliefs regarding gender identity and how this influences the support offered to trans-spectrum young people. Through a process of reflexive thematic analysis, six themes were developed, indicating that lack of confidence, fears of community resistance and implicitly held views of gender identity underscored a hesitancy in teachers’ practice. However, teachers expressed a strong desire to develop their knowledge and through reflection within their focus group or interview, began to construct ideas of how to be inclusive in their work.

Click here to visit the web page from which this edition of the journal can be downloaded (open access).

Markland, B., Sargeant, C., & Wright, S. (2023) Teachers’ beliefs: How they shape the support offered to trans-spectrum young people. Teaching and Teacher Education, 124. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2023.104019

The Benefits of Children’s Gratitude: Identifying Mediators and Designing a New Measure

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Sophie Smith
Submitted: October 2021

Abstract

School-based gratitude interventions show evidence of enhancing student well-being but there is limited research suggesting how gratitude increases well-being. There is also the need for a suitable tool to measure children’s gratitude and evaluate the impact of gratitude interventions. The researcher sought to address these literature gaps. A systematic literature review was used to address the question ‘which variables mediate the association between young people’s gratitude and well-being?’. Stronger evidence was found for cognitive and social resources as mediators, compared to mediators related to affect. A lack of experimental and longitudinal studies in the current evidence base was identified, highlighting avenues for future research.

In an empirical study, the researcher designed and screened a new questionnaire of children’s gratitude, the Questionnaire of Appreciation in Youth (QUAY). Items were developed using the literature to identify a comprehensive definition of gratitude and its key features, and through discussion with the research supervisors who have extensive experience of studying gratitude. The initial items were screened in a focus group with three children aged eight to nine. Exploratory factor analysis was then conducted with responses from 107 children aged eight to 10. This led to the development of an 11-item scale with good reliability and convergent validity with an existing measure of gratitude, the GQ-6. A three-factor structure was retained, with subscales addressing gratitude, appreciation, and sense of privilege. Limitations include the lack of a more diverse sample, the absence of reverse-scored items, positive skew in responses, and the need to establish discriminant validity. Implications include new insights into the structure of children’s gratitude, providing a working tool which could be further developed in order to measure children’s gratitude more effectively.

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Social Media Activity, Number of Friends, and Relationship Quality: The Effects on Young People’s Sense of Belonging and Wellbeing

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Lindsey Elder
Submitted: June 2021

Abstract

Positive relationships are essential in meeting the fundamental need to belong. In adolescence, peer relationships become increasingly important for belonging as the risk of experiencing loneliness increases. However, the rising popularity of social media has added to the complexity of adolescents’ peer experiences, as it presents a number of interpersonal challenges and opportunities. In this thesis, I (1) introduce the thesis research and present a rationale for the chosen topic area, (2) explore the relationship between friendship quantity and quality and young people’s sense of belonging, and (3) consider how social media can be used to enhance wellbeing and belonging during adolescence.

The first chapter is an introduction to my thesis research. In this chapter, I summarise my thesis journey; I explain how my personal experiences inspired my chosen research area, what questions I wanted to answer, how I chose to answer them, and what I learned from the process. In the second chapter, I present the findings of a systematic literature review investigating the evidence for relationships between friendship quantity and quality and adolescents’ sense of belonging over time. The results of the 13 reviewed studies suggest that having more friends indirectly reduces loneliness by giving teenagers more opportunities to develop high quality friendships. However, more rigorous longitudinal research needs to be conducted to make reliable conclusions about these complex associations. In the third chapter, I present the findings of my empirical research, where I investigated how social media can be used to promote adolescents’ sense of belonging and wellbeing. In this research, 49 11- 18-year-olds took part in a randomised controlled study, where they were asked to either (1) interact on social media, (2) lurk passively without interacting on social media, or (3) interact face-to-face. The results show that changes in belonging and wellbeing did not differ significantly between the groups. However, the findings do suggest that using social media to maintain existing relationships positively predicts later belonging. Conversely, using social media to pass time predicts lower belonging and wellbeing. Overall, the study provides some preliminary evidence to suggest that using social media to interact with friends and family is more beneficial for adolescents than passive use. However, repeating the research after the coronavirus pandemic and with a larger sample size will be important to make more reliable conclusions and recommendations for practice.

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How can schools support the education of children and young people experiencing chronic pain: Perspectives of teachers and other school staff.

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Lauren Baggley
Submitted: June 2021

Abstract

Chronic pain (CP) is a prevalent health problem in school aged children and young people (CYP). A body of evidence suggests CP has a profound impact on many aspects of CYP’s lives including in an academic context. CP is associated with poor school attendance, poor academic performance and overall impairment in school functioning. Research commonly uses attendance to measure this impact however, school functioning is a multi-dimensional concept including social, cognitive and emotional aspects. There is also disparity in the measures used to determine school functioning. Given the wide ranging impact of CP, it is important that CYP experiencing CP are well supported in school by adults who feel competent supporting their needs. However, to date there has been limited research eliciting school staff’s perspectives on managing CP in school. In this thesis, I sought to address the gaps in the literature through two studies. In a systematic literature review I explored the assessment and measurement of the impact of CP on the school functioning of school aged CYP. Overall, CP was found to negatively impact numerous aspects of school functioning including attendance, performance, academic self-efficacy, limiting physical activities, emotional and social functioning and overall school functioning. Wide and varied outcome measures were used to determine the impact of CP. In an empirical study, I conducted semi structured interviews with 12 members of school staff in various roles about their experiences supporting children and young people with CP at school. Through thematic analysis, four themes were developed concerning staff’s perceived misunderstanding of chronic pain as a biopsychosocial phenomenon, the wide ranging impact of chronic pain, lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic and managing chronic pain in a school setting. Promising implications were identified for supporting students with CP with greater flexibility and a blended learning approach in future.

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The Use of Social Media in Identity Development for LGBTQI+ Individuals and the Factors That Shape Young People’s Attitudes Towards the Transgender Population

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Kirsty Russell
Submitted: June 2021

Abstract

Despite the legislative progress and increased visibility of LGBTQI+ individuals in society, research continues to highlight the prejudice and victimisation that this population can face. According to the minority stress model, sexual minorities can face hostile stigma-related stressors which can compromise the mental health of LGBTQI+ individuals. Additionally, LGBTQI+ individuals face a distinct path of navigating identity development compared to nonLGBTQI+ peers. Chapter one begins by outlining the context, rationale, and scope for this research. As identity development takes place in a contemporary world of widespread social media use, chapter two presents the systematic literature review conducted to answer ‘how do LGBTQI+ individuals use social media as part of their identity development?’ The review included 16 studies and adopted a thematic synthesis methodology. LGBTQI+ individuals used social media for: gaining a sense of belonging, developing my identity, managing my identity, and broadcasting my identity. Furthermore, understanding the mechanisms which underly transprejudice has implications for the outcomes and mental health of transgender individuals. Consequently, chapter three presents the findings from an online survey with 129 young people, to investigate the factors which predict young people’s attitudes towards transgender individuals. A multiple regression analysis revealed that several previously identified factors from the adult literature formed a comprehensive model in explaining a large amount of variance in young people’s attitudes. The importance of discomfort felt with violations of heteronormativity, hostile sexism, and gender were emphasised. Implications to inform support across different ecological and contextual systems and scope for further research is discussed.

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The Voice of Service Children: A Systematic Review of Service Children’s Experiences and a Study Exploring School Belonging in Children of Service Personnel

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Kirsty Daniels
Submitted: June 2021

Abstract

Chapter 1 provides an account of the research background and how understanding the needs of UK service children sits within the national context and personal position of the researcher. Chapter 2 presents a systematic review of existing research that gathered the voices of service children in the UK. Searches for this review identified six research papers that were critically appraised in order to better understand the experiences of service children in the UK. A number of common themes emerged relating to the highs and lows of service life, recognising both the challenges and positive outcomes being a service child can bring. These themes were referenced in relation to parental deployment and mobility, and key findings emphasised the importance of social relations as both a risk and protective factor for these individuals. The findings highlighted the need to examine the impact of parental deployment and school transition on the relational needs of service children. Chapter 3 presents a qualitative study that explores school belonging in children of service personnel. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to explore the lived experiences of six service children and their sense of school belonging. IPA was viewed through a critical realism lens. Five main themes developed from the analysis: defining school belonging; fostering connections and improving communications (at the individual and systemic level); school support: positive attitudes and understanding of the issues facing service children; transition; and impact on child’s phenomenon. From these findings a number of practical suggestions were identified.

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Exploring the importance of early care-giving experiences on children’s socio-emotional functioning: the role of empathy

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Derek Hanley
Submitted: October 2021

Abstract

The parent-child relationship is considered a critical context for children’s socio-emotional development. While it is understood that this relationship is interactive and bi-directional in nature, parenting practices and behaviours, specifically, parental socialisation styles, have been consistently linked to children’s development, including emotional competence and social skills. Empathy, which describes an innate capacity to understand and resonate with others’ emotional experiences, is regarded by some as being at the core of what it means to be fully human, as it is central to social interaction, lays a foundation for moral judgement, and acts as a precursor to prosocial behaviour. Evidence has shown that individual differences in child empathy are related to and affected by the socialisation practices of parents. Building upon this research, this thesis presents two related, but individual papers that aim to further our understanding of how early care-giving experiences influence children’s socio-emotional functioning, specifically empathy. Firstly, a systematic literature review was conducted to consider the association between the quality of the parent-child relationship, as defined by the indices of attachment security, parent warmth, and parental sensitivity, and the development of empathy in toddlers and pre-schoolers. 16 articles were included for review. Overall, the review highlights that the evidence-base exploring the association between child empathy and the quality of the parent-child relationship among toddlers and pre-schoolers is small and strikingly inconsistent. Put broadly, the most consistent associations were found in longitudinal studies with pre-schoolers where attachment security was linked with higher scores of empathy. Secondly, an empirical study was carried out to test a proposed mediational model, whereby lower empathy is a pathway between childhood maltreatment and peer relationship problems. Using a combination of parent-report, child-report measures, and behavioural measures, empathy and peer relations were assessed in a sample of maltreated (n = 29) and non-maltreated children (n = 82). Findings show that maltreated children scored significantly lower on parentreport measures of empathy and scored significantly higher on parent-report peer relationship problems than non-maltreated children. The behavioural data showed similar group level differences for child empathy, however, no differences were found for child-report peer relations. In terms of the proposed mediational model, empathy was found to mediate the relationship between maltreatment and poor peer relations. Taken together, both studies highlight the importance of early care-giving experiences on children’s socio-emotional functioning, specifically empathy. The implications of this are discussed broadly and within the context of educational psychology.

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The Impact of Early Experiences on Empathy and Emotion Regulation Development: Markers of Vulnerability and Resilience

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Amber Newell
Submitted: September 2021

Abstract

Experiencing maltreatment in childhood can have detrimental and long-term effects on a child’s development. Maltreatment is the main reason for children to be removed from their family settings and to be looked after by alternative caregivers. Research has demonstrated that even after removal from the maltreating context, many children continue to experience persistent socioemotional difficulties. Less is known about the impact of maltreatment on children’s development of empathy and emotion regulation (ER) specifically and the ways that alternative caregiving protects against negative effects of maltreatment. Empathy and ER are key competencies that underpin a wide variety of other socioemotional skills. This thesis presents two related studies. Firstly, a systematic literature review was conducted to consider the literature exploring the impact of alternative caregiving on ER development. Eight studies were included that compared ER between children with and without experiences of maltreatment and subsequent transition to alternative care arrangements. Half of the studies concluded that maltreatment is associated with significantly less ER and an additional two studies found similar, but non-significant results. There are very few studies that have this focus, highlighting a need for further research. Secondly, empathy was assessed in 27 school-age adopted children with a history of maltreatment and compared with empathy measured with 72 non-adopted, non-maltreated children who live with their biological parents. It was hypothesised that maltreatment would have a negative impact on empathy development resulting in the adopted children scoring lower on empathy measures. It was also hypothesised that caregiver and child empathy would be associated and that this relationship would be moderated by maltreatment (group) status. The findings were that adopted children scored lower on parent-report questionnaire and behavioural measures of empathy. There were significant associations between parent and child measures of empathy, but maltreatment status did not significantly moderate this association. Taken together, both studies identify difficulties maltreated children have even within a context of adoption and fostering with empathy and emotion regulation development. The implications of this are discussed broadly and more specifically related to an educational psychology context.

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What can Teachers do to Embed LGBTQ+ Inclusive Practices in Schools?

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Beckett Markland
Submitted: June 2021

Abstract

Teachers are well positioned to positively influence the school experiences of the young people they work with, which has known connotations for young people’s social, emotional and academic outcomes. Indeed, teachers’ direct interactions with pupils, the formal and informal learning opportunities they provide, and the classroom climate they create culminate to influence the school experiences of their pupils. How teachers navigate their practice may be of particular value to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other sexual and gender diverse identified (LGBTQ+) young people whose school experiences are known to be challenging relative to their peers, and who often experience adverse outcomes related to these experiences. However, research shows that teachers do not regularly practice in ways which make LGBTQ+ young people feel supported or included in the school environment. Teachers are not always aware of their own capacity to facilitate LGBTQ+ inclusive practice and may feel limited in doing so, constrained by restrictive school systems, wider community resistance, and limitations in guidance as well as their own confidence in adopting such practices. The aim of this thesis was to shift the focus away from barriers that restrict teachers’ practice towards understandings of how they may be overcome. While the contexts and systemic constraints within teachers’ schools cannot be disregarded, the individual teacher has the potential to positively influence the young people they directly work with and it was the aim of this thesis to explore how this may be done.

With this endeavour in mind, two research enquiries were undertaken. Using a three-stage thematic synthesis approach, a review was conducted to explore: what can teachers do to challenge heteronormativity? This placed the emphasis on teachers’ position to de-construct dominant discourses within the school environment that typically position heterosexuality and binary models of gender as the norm. Alongside this, an empirical research project was undertaken to explore teachers’ beliefs regarding gender identity, their beliefs about their own abilities to support trans- spectrum young people, and additional supports and barriers that influence their practice. The targeted focus on gender identity was chosen due to a notable gap in the research base, in which LGBTQ+ identities are often amalgamated, despite evidence that trans-spectrum young peoples’ experiences differ from others in the LGBTQ+ community. Through the course of each research enquiry, implications for teachers’ practice were developed with consideration to the relative facilitators and barriers that might exist in different schools. This included suggestions for teachers to integrate non-normative representations throughout the curriculum, role model inclusivity and acts of social justice, and facilitate co-constructive learning environments with pupils. It was also suggested that teachers can work strategically in their schools, engaging in relational work with parents to co-create possibilities for LGBTQ+ inclusive practices. To support teachers in their own professional learning journeys, possibilities for training and reflection are also suggested. Strengths and limitations of each research enquiry are discussed.

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First prize research poster: Investigating equitable access of minoritised groups to EP services

Assignment: Small Scale Research Project Poster, presented at the 2022 Southampton Psychology Post Graduate Research Conference
Authors: Selma Vieira, Sophie-Jane Stanwyck, Ffion Davies, Cora Sargeant
Submitted: June 2022

There is limited research into equity of access to Educational Psychology Services (EPS) for marginalised groups. The academic outcomes of some minoritised groups can be lower than the average student e.g. Looked After Children (LAC), Pupil Premium (PP), Free School Meals (FSM) and some ethnically minoritised groups. Therefore, this study aimed to address the following research questions: How do minoritised group referral rates to the EPS compare to the local community population data? Is there any under or over representation in those accessing the traded EPS?

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To cite this work, please use the following:

Vieira, S., Stanwyck, S., Davies, F. & Sargeant, C. (2020, June 23-24). Investigating equitable access of minoritised groups to EP services: A comparative analysis of county wide and service user data. [Poster presentation]. University of Southampton Post Graduate Research Conference (Psychology), Southampton, UK. https://bit.ly/3z9sy0z

https://twitter.com/SUEdPsy/status/1539990731833630720?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Eembeddedtimeline%7Ctwterm%5Eprofile%3ASUEdPsy%7Ctwgr%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%7Ctwcon%5Etimelinechrome&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.soton.ac.uk%2Fedpsych%2Fcategory%2Fpersonal-construct-psychology%2F

Dyslexia or Literacy Difficulties: What Difference Does a Label Make? Exploring the Perceptions and Experiences of Young People (2021)

Authors: Rosa Gibby-Leversuch, Brettany K. Hartwell and Sarah Wright 
Published: 2021
Publication: Educational Psychology Research and Practice

This study explores the views of young people (YP), with and without self-reported dyslexia or literacy difficulties, focussing on the impact of labels. Qualitative data were gathered through an online survey and individual interviews. The study highlights how the presence or absence of a label can impact people’s perceptions. Dyslexia was perceived as biological in origin; therefore, YP with the label were seen as not to blame for their difficulties. However, more negative judgements were made about YP without the label but with the same difficulties. Participants viewed the label as important for gaining support, yet highlighted the potential for discrimination in terms of access to diagnosis and resources. What was important to participants with dyslexia was not necessarily the label but the support that they received and how they were viewed by others. Implications for school professionals are discussed in terms of ensuring that YP feel empowered by the way they are described.

Gibby-Leversuch, R., Hartwell, B. K. and Wright, S. 2021. Dyslexia or Literacy Difficulties: What Difference Does a Label Make? Exploring the Perceptions and Experiences of Young People. Educational Psychology Research and Practice. 7 (1), pp. 1-15. https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.899yq

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Educational psychologists’ involvement in critical incidents: self-efficacy and influencing factors (2021)

Authors: Joanne Bennett, Hannah Edwards, Charlotte Finnegan, Rebecca Jones, Caroline Carpenter and Cora Sargeant
Published: 2021
Publication: Educational Psychology in Practice

Supporting school communities following a critical incident (CI) is a stressful, yet established, part of an educational psychologist’s (EP’s) role. The authors aim to explore whether emotional intelligence (EI), the number of CIs worked, and coping strategies predict EPs’ CI self-efficacy, and to gather EPs’ views on CI training. Ninety-five EPs working for UK local authorities completed an online survey that measured their self-efficacy towards CIs, their EI, and coping strategies. Information about how CIs are allocated, supervision, training received, and suggestions for future training were obtained. EI, approach coping strategies, and avoidant coping strategies were all predictors of CI self-efficacy. Results showed that 76.5% of EPs considered they needed more CI training and expressed they would benefit from knowledge- and experiential-based training. Implications are discussed, using a training framework informed by sources of self-efficacy, emphasising the need to be consciously aware of the EI and coping strategies that EPs already possess.

Bennett, J., Edwards, H., Finnegan, C., Jones, R., Carpenter, C. & Sargeant, C. (2021) Educational psychologists’ involvement in critical incidents: self-efficacy and influencing factors. Educational Psychology in Practice, DOI: 10.1080/02667363.2021.2000371

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The perspectives and experiences of children with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools regarding their individual teaching assistant support (2021)

Author: Hayley Pinkard
Published: 2021
Publication: European Journal of Special Educational Needs

This paper reports a small-scale qualitative research project, carried out in the south of England. Ten children (aged ten-eleven) with a range of SEN, from mainstream primary schools, took part in individual semi-structured interviews about their TA support. Child-friendly interviews utilised toy props and a creative ‘Ideal TA’ activity to aid communication and engagement. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Participants’ perspectives highlighted the ways in which their TAs had been deployed, which they perceived to enable helpful scaffolding of learning, but also caused a significant degree of separation from teachers. The nurturing characteristics of TAs were appreciated, and the positive impacts of TA support on pupils’ social inclusion and emotional well-being were emphasised.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the European Journal of Special Educational Needs on 20/04/21, available online:

Pinkard, H. (2021) The perspectives and experiences of children with special educational needs in mainstream primary schools regarding their individual teaching assistant support. European Journal of Special Educational Needs, 36(2), 248-264. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2021.1901375 

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Mental health beyond the school gate: Young people’s perspectives of mental health support online, and in home, school and community contexts (2020)

Authors: Natalie Jago, Sarah Wright, Brettany K. Hartwell and Rachel Green
Published: 2020
Publication: Educational and Child Psychology

Aims: This study sought to develop a greater understanding of what young people identify as essential components of mental health support.
Rationale: Children and young people’s mental health has been identified as an area of concern and highlighted by the government as a priority area for improvement. In the United Kingdom (UK), increased importance has been placed on capturing their views. However, research suggests this group is not always asked for their views by decision-makers leading to a discrepancy between what is provided and what children and young people want from support. Incorporating the views and perspectives of children and young people in the design of appropriate support approaches is an important way to give them a voice in issues that affect them, as well as ensuring provision is suitable.
Method: A two-round Delphi method was used whereby a panel of young people aged 16-25 who had previously experienced a mental health difficulty rated a series of statements. A consensus level of 75% across the panel was set to include/exclude statements in a final framework of recommendations. To gain feedback on the feasibility and utility of the framework, interviews with adult stakeholders were carried out.
Findings: The competencies identified were used to form a framework of recommendations for practice. The importance of relationships, the need for trust and confidentiality, and the need for further mental health awareness and training were key themes identified.
Conclusions: This study provides a helpful insight into what young people value from mental health support. Implications of the research include a need for further awareness raising of children and young people’s views regarding mental health and larger scale participatory research to expand upon the findings of the current study.

Jago, N., Wright, S., Hartwell, B. K. & Green, R. (2020) Mental Health Beyond the School Gate: Young People’s Perspectives of Mental Health Support Online, and in Home, School and Community Contexts. Educational and Child Psychology, 37(3), 69-85.

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University of Southampton Psychology Post Graduate Research Conference – presentations

The Southampton PGR conference recently concluded – the ninth psychology conference but the very first to be carried out online. We were delighted by (and very proud of) the contributions of the Ed Psych Trainees to the conference, which included Year 2 research posters, Year 3 thesis presentations and two members of the Year 2 cohort – Sophie Smith and Amber Newell – sitting on the four person conference planning committee (and what an incredible job they did under these exceptional circumstances).

Please find below two great examples of the Ed Psych thesis presentations, presented by Caroline Bird, Jesvir Dhillon, and Annie McGowan:

Caroline Bird: Attributions of Challenging Behaviour from Looked After Children

Jesvir Dhillon A qualitative exploration of facilitators and adolescents experiences of a school-based iCBT

Annie McGowan: Exploration of the Views and Experiences of Transgender Youth in Secondary Education

An intervention to raise a sense of belonging and associated outcomes for secondary aged pupils with low socioeconomic status

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Joanne Lambeth
Submitted: June 2017

Abstract

The first chapter of this document outlines a systematic literature review regarding the relationship between belonging and academic achievement, specifically in relation to adolescents. Three databases were systematically searched following a clear search strategy and inclusion criteria. Nineteen articles were identified and critically appraised in order to understand the current picture of the research. On balance, the review highlights that belonging is significantly related to academic achievement. This relationship was found across gender and different cultures. In addition, within the concept of belonging, some factors seem to influence achievement more than others, e.g., relatedness to teachers. However taken together, it indicates that relationships in general are important to support achievement. This review also highlights factors that contribute to differences in belonging and achievement such as gender (with girls achieving higher levels of both) and marginalisation by ethnicity and socioeconomic status. In addition, the articles indentified a range of variables that help to explain the relationship including academic emotions, engagement, behaviour conduct, educational efficacy and purpose. Despite the findings reported in the literature, there is a lack of experimental research regarding this relationship and the conclusion remains correlational. Following this review a gap in the literature appears regarding how to increase belonging and consequently achievement, using an experimental design. In addition, it highlights to educational professionals that relationships are important in supporting achievement and should be adequately supported in educational settings.

The second chapter of this document reports on experimental research conducted on the topic of belonging and associated outcomes for young adolescents. Previous research demonstrated that a brief psychological intervention increased belonging and attainment for a marginalised population (individuals from African American backgrounds) upon transition to a new environment (college) (Walton & Cohen, 2011). The current research adapted and used this intervention with a different population, i.e., young adolescents who may experience marginalisation due to low socioeconomic status (SES), upon transition to secondary school. The aim of the intervention is to target individuals who may worry about belonging and implicitly change their attributions about negative experiences, i.e., that perceptions of social adversity are common and time limited, not due to the individual themselves. Three schools based in low SES areas agreed to take part. Year 7 pupils (N = 62) were allocated to either an intervention group (n = 25) or active control group (n = 37). Measures of anxiety about belonging and SES were taken pre-intervention. Measures of belonging, attainment and attendance were taken across a period of six months. Correlational analysis found that SES was significantly related to anxiety about belonging, i.e., those with low SES had higher levels of anxiety. Multiple regression analysis also found that SES significantly predicted attainment. T-tests were used to analyse the difference between the intervention and control conditions in regards to belonging, attainment and attendance. However, no differences were found between the intervention and control groups. Future directions regarding the development of this intervention are discussed.

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Looking ahead rather than behind: exploring the future perspectives and resilience of adolescents who have experience of parental imprisonment

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Catherine Goodchild
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

Adolescence is a period of development when young people begin to prepare for transition from childhood into adulthood creating an increased focus on future potential and aspirations. A systematic review of the international literature was conducted, exploring the relationship between adolescent outcomes and two key areas of future perception studies, future orientation and possible selves. 18 articles were identified and subsequently organised by grouping in relation to school, home and personal factors. Research was conducted cross-culturally and often focussed on at-risk populations related to ethnicity, however only two studies extended to the UK population. A number of quantitative studies suggest a relationship exists between adolescent future orientation and a variety of positive outcomes, as well as acting as a protective factor against negative outcomes, e.g. risk-taking behaviours. Participants’ perspectives were rarely explored through qualitative research, with only two papers included. Limitations include methodological design, leading to calls for more robust research in this area.

The empirical paper (Chapter 2) adopted a qualitative design and explored the future perceptions of children of imprisoned parents. This population have been referred to as ‘silent victims’ in the literature and are suggested to be at risk of multiple negative outcomes, including disruption to relationships, stigmatisation and increased risk of engaging in socially undesirable behaviours. The current study gathered the future perspectives of children of imprisoned parents, as well as their resilience factors including sources of strength and support from their past and present experiences. Five participants, aged 9-12 years were interviewed using semi-structured interviews and a ‘life path’ drawing activity. Deductive thematic analysis identified six overall themes: experience of having a parent in prison, social support, individual coping strategies, beliefs about the future, strategies to reach future goals and potential barriers to reaching future goals. Implications for practice were discussed in light of the heterogeneous nature of the findings and concluded that professionals should consider a bespoke approach to intervention, ensuring children are kept at the forefront of decision-making. Calls for future research included further qualitative studies to explore how children of imprisoned parents construct their own identities, which could be triangulated with data such as the voice of siblings and wider family members.

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Understanding the school outcomes for, and experiences of, siblings of children with autism

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Alexandra Gregory
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

A systematic literature review was conducted to explore the educational outcomes for, and experiences of, siblings of children on the autism spectrum (autism siblings). Whilst there is a growing body of research on the psychological outcomes for autism siblings, few studies have considered how this might influence the school context. Findings were linked to the Siblings Embedded Systems Framework; school factors, psychological internal challenges and resources, peers and other formal and informal social systems, and personal interpretation of events. Overall, school outcomes and experiences showed large variation, suggesting that some autism siblings are at increased risk of difficulties in the school context, but that autism siblings do not automatically experience challenges in school. Nevertheless, the review highlighted a number of methodological limitations of the evidence-base in this area, including the small body of literature, particularly in the UK, studies of low methodological rigour, such as those employing small sample sizes, and reliance on solely parent-reported outcomes. This limits the conclusions that can be drawn.

The empirical study extended the current literature to explore two school-related outcomes; sense of school belonging and academic self-concept. Using online questionnaires, autism siblings and siblings of typically developing children without autism (typical siblings) aged 11 to 16 years in secondary schools across the UK took part.

Data on sibling wellbeing were also triangulated via self-, parent/carer- and teacher reports. Relative to typical siblings, autism siblings self-reported significantly lower school belonging and academic self-concept, in addition to significantly lower self, parent- and teacher-reported wellbeing outcomes. Regression models established that sibling-reported internalising and externalising behaviours significantly predicted both school-related outcomes. Sibling group was also a significant predictor in all models, demonstrating that even once demographic variables and sibling wellbeing were controlled, robust sibling group differences were still present. Despite these findings, there was a greater variation in autism siblings’ school outcomes compared to typical siblings. Therefore, this study highlights the importance of taking an individualised and person-centred approach to understanding the varying needs of, and providing support to, siblings of children on the autism spectrum.

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The impact of small motor activity on attention and learning in children

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Helen Jones
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

Research has suggested that small movements may Improve attention in children by increasing arousal. However, no systematic review has examined this literature. This review aimed to conduct a broad and thorough search, combining relevant evidence in a systematic and critical way In order to establish whether small motor activity improves attention and learning in children. Fifteen studies were reviewed, relating to fidgeting, doodling, chewing gum and alternative seating. The overall evidence was inconsistent with a weighting towards positive findings; however, the insufficient quantity and quality of studies precluded any firm conclusions. A need was identified for further studies using improved designs and including measures of arousal.

The empirical study aimed to investigate links between doodling, arousal and attention in children using a robust, repeated-measures experimental design, including a measure of arousal and exploring moderating effects of other related factors. Fifty-five children (aged 9 to 10 years) individually completed tests of sustained attention (SA) and working memory (WM) under two counterbalanced conditions (doodling/control). Heart rate (HR) was measured during each test. Self-reported state anxiety and fatigue were measured as potential confounders. Self-reported attentional control (AC), trait anxiety and sleepiness were considered as potential moderators. Data were analysed using linear mixed models. Results showed that SA declined while doodling. No main effect of condition on WM was found; however, a near-significant interaction effect indicated that children who reported low AC performed better while doodling, whereas children who reported high AC performed better under the non-doodling condition. HR Increased while doodling; however, changes In HR did not predict changes in SA or WM performance. This study concluded that doodling increases arousal but cannot be recommended to improve SA. Doodling may improve WM for children who struggle with AC. Interference effects may explain the detrimental effects of doodling.

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An investigation into the associations between maths anxiety in secondary school pupils and teachers’ and parents’ implicit theories of intelligence and failure

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Anna Doedens-Plant
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

This research examined the role that teachers’ mindsets, or implicit beliefs about intelligence and failure, play in the development of their pupils’ mindsets and subsequent maths anxiety. A systematic review of fourteen studies investigated the association between teachers’ implicit beliefs about intelligence and their pedagogical practices in the classroom. It showed that teachers tended to report having a growth mindset, but this was not necessarily evidenced by concordant classroom practice, such as the adoption of mastery goals. Fixed mindset beliefs, on the other hand, seemed to lead to more consistent practice, with potentially damaging effects.

The empirical study built on this review to explore mindset (i.e., implicit beliefs about intelligence and failure) in secondary school pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 (0.859), their parents (N=84) and teachers (0=9). Pupils were also asked about their perceptions of their parents’ and teachers’ goals, as either oriented towards performance or learning. The results pointed to several factors associated with pupils’ maths anxiety (i.e. gender, maths set). Also, pupils’ implicit beliefs that failure is debilitating were associated with pupils’ maths anxiety. Teachers’ implicit failure beliefs were associated with pupils’ beliefs about failure and were indirectly linked via pupils’ perceptions of their teachers’ goals as fixed. Further analysis highlighted that pupils’ intelligence beliefs, their perception of their parents’ goals and their maths set also impacted on whether or not pupils’ viewed failure as debilitating or beneficial for learning. These results suggest that teachers can make a useful contribution to reducing pupils’ maths anxiety, by reflecting on how to translate helpful beliefs into visible practice, to help pupils experience failure as an opportunity for learning.

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Twins: Exploring implications for their interactions with parents and classroom placement at school

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Kate Brant
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

The present thesis considers possible influences on the development of twins in both the home and school environment. The first chapter critically assesses the available evidence on whether parenting twins is associated with differences in parent-child relationship and in associated behavioural and emotional outcomes for twins. The second chapter presents the experiences of parents and school staff of the decision-making process about classroom placements of twins for reception-class entry.

A systematic review was conducted to assess whether there are differences between twin and singleton groups in early infancy. The review focused specifically on assessing differences in parental affect, parent-child interactions and how this could affect the quality of parent child relationship and children’s emotional and behavioural outcomes. The results from this review highlight that parents of twins experience greater and a more prolonged period of stress when their children are in early infancy as well as greater mental health difficulties and reduced feelings of parental efficacy. The review also reports inconsistencies in the identified literature regarding differences in parent-child interactions between twin and singleton groups. However, there are consistent findings within the identified literature which reported that twin and singleton infants’ relationship quality with their parents and emotional and behavioural outcomes do not differ. The results from the systematic search are discussed in relation to emotional sensitive responsiveness and the potential protective factor of the twin relationship.

A qualitative study which involved 12 interviews conducted with parents (i.e. with 11 mothers and one parent-pair) and 15 with school managers. Thematic analysis following Brown and Clark’s (2006) six steps identified a number of important shared and distinct themes. The importance of twins’ individuality was emphasised by both parents and school managers. When deciding on placement, parents and school managers considered a balance between the twins’ needs for support and independence. Parents’ experiences of their interactions with the school relating to their twins’ school placement were often linked to their perceptions of their relationship with the school, especially as parents felt it was an important decision. Thus, the perceived negative experiences of interactions with schools during the decision making process were reflected in more negative perceptions of the school and the home-school relationship during that time. However, these views could change over time. In addition, practicalities of classroom placements were reported by parents; school managers also reported school factors which could influence the decision.School managers used their experiences to inform their views. Their perception of who should make the decision (e.g. school, parents, or collaboratively) influenced their communication with parents, their perception of twin sets as different, and how they balanced children’s support and independence at transition to school. Extracted themes are discussed in relation to the development of identity and autonomy, attachment theory and parent trust in schools. Effective home-school collaboration during the decision-making process is recommended for good practice.

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Dyslexia or literacy difficulties: what difference does a label make? Exploring the perceptions and experiences of young people

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Rosa Gibby-Leversuch
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

This systematic review investigates the links between literacy difficulties, dyslexia and the self-perceptions of children and young people (CYP). It aims to further understanding by building on Burden’s (2008) review and explores how the additional factors of attributional style and the dyslexia label may contribute to the self-perceptions of children and young people. 19 papers are included and quality assessed. Quantitative papers measured the self reported self-perceptions of CYP with literacy difficulties and/or dyslexia (LitD/D) and compared these with the CYP without LitD/D. Qualitative papers explored the lived experiences of CYP with LitD/D, including their self-views and how these were affected by receiving a dyslexia diagnosis. Results suggest that CYP with LitD/D may be at greater risk of developing negative self-perceptions of themselves as learners, but not of their overall self-worth. Factors found to be relevant in supporting positive self-perceptions include adaptive attributional styles, good relationships with peers and parents, and positive attitudes towards dyslexia and neurodiversity. In some cases, CYP with LitD/Dfelt that others perceived them as unintelligent or idle; for these CYP, a diagnosis led to more positive self-perceptions, as it provided an alternative picture of themselves. There is a need for further research to explore the impact of attributional style and the potential for intervention, as well as CYP’s experiences of diagnosis and the associated advantages or disadvantages.

There has been ongoing debate around the use of the term ‘dyslexia’ to describe the literacy difficulties of certain individuals, however, CYP’s perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of the use of the term have not been directly sought. This study aims to explore the views of young people (YP), with and without experiences of dyslexia, with a particular focus on the impact of labels. A qualitative methodology is used to explore the views of a range of individuals currently in secondary education (aged 13-19). The views of 36 YP (12 with self-reported dyslexia, 12 with self-reported literacy difficulties and 12 with no reported literacy difficulties) were gathered using an online survey. In depth one to-one interviews were also carried out with six YP who reported having dyslexia. Results show that YP saw the dyslexia label as an important factor in gaining appropriate support for difficulties, and highlight the potential for discrimination in terms of access to diagnosis and therefore access to support. The dyslexia label led to changes in perceptions and helped to remove the sense that a YP may be to blame for their difficulties, as dyslexia was seen as having a biological origin. This was beneficial for those individuals who had the label, but led to more negative judgements being made in relation to individuals with literacy difficulties but no dyslexia label. Furthermore, the label was associated with permanence, which is discussed in terms of attribution theory. Implications for Educational Psychologists and school staff are discussed in terms of ensuring that YP, and their teachers, have a good understanding of their literacy needs and are empowered by the way their needs are described, and are not subject to selective stigmatisation

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The role of emotion recognition and externalising behaviour for educational outcomes

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Nicola Samos
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

The first chapter of this theses outlines a systematic literature review investigating the relationship between emotion recognition skills and academic outcomes of school age children. Four databases were systematically searched applying clear inclusion criteria. Six articles were identified and critically appraised to assess the existing literature. The review highlights a positive relationship between emotion recognition skills and academic outcomes. This was identified across a range of countries/cultures, however the utilisation and impact of these skills may differ between genders and be moderated by other factors including cognitive ability, motivation and achievement goals. Although this review supported the hypothesis that strengths in emotion recognition skills are associated with increased academic achievement, a gap in the research was identified surrounding the improvement of emotion recognition skills and impact on outcomes for school age children. The review also highlighted to professionals working within education the importance of the development of these skills for school success.

The second chapter reports on research conducted investigating emotion recognition and behavioural outcomes. Previous research highlights challenges experienced by all children during education can be exacerbated for those with challenging behaviour and redirection of this is crucial for development and academic progress. Further findings consistently document associations between deficits in emotion recognition and conduct difficlties (in addition to psychopathology in general). As a result, emotion recognition training has been developed for use with both antisocial and clinical samples. Previous research has suggested that the Training of Affect Recognition intervention programme (Frommann, Streit, & Wölwer, 2003) is effective in improving emotion recognition, executive function skills and may be suitable for those experincing conduct difficulties. The current research aimed to investigate whether brief delivery of the TAR intervention programme could enhance emotion recognition skills in an adolescent experiencing conduct difficulties compared to a matched wait control pariticipant and attempted to explore potential transfer effects on behaviour. Visual analysis highlighted difficulties in specific areas of emotion recognition consistent with previous research for both participants. Results for the intervention participant showed brief significant improvements in accuracy post intervention,specifically for fear, disgust and surprise. The wait control participant was shown to experience no significant improvement in accuracy throughout the duration of the study. A reduction in school reported negative behaviours for the participant who took part in the intervention during and immediately after its implementation were also reported. Strengths, limitations and implications for Educational Psychologists are also discussed.

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An exploration of how the secondary school experience contributes to elevated anxiety levels for adolescents on the autism spectrum

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Eleanor Hayes
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

Children and young people on the autism spectrum show elevated anxiety levels in comparison to typically developing peers and those with other special educational needs. However, despite the significant time spent in school, few researchers have focused on how the school environment contributes to elevated anxiety levels in autism. A systematic review of the literature was conducted, exploring causes of anxious affect for autistic adolescents attending mainstream school. Experiences in the school environment that were highlighted as sources of anxiety included adverse noises, the behaviour of others and the social identity of autistic pupils. Additionally, academic pressure, transitions, disliked subjects, homework and handwriting were highlighted as sources of anxiety. Key frameworks of anxiety and autism (Boulter et al., 2014; Wood & Gadow, 2010) were used to understand these findings.An empirical study was also conducted to explore how the secondary school experience contributed to elevated anxiety following the Intolerance of Uncertainty framework of anxiety and autism proposed by Boulter et al. (2014). A school-based sample of 30 autistic adolescents aged 11-14, took part in the study. Parents completed measures of anxiety, sensory processing, autism symptom severity, and teachers completed a measure of social skills. Participants on the autism spectrum completed a measure of the number and types of experiences causing feelings of anxiety in the school social and learning environment. Indirect pathways from sensory sensitivities and social and environmental experiences in school to anxiety symptoms through intolerance of uncertainty were then tested. Findings supported and extended the key framework of anxiety in autism proposed by Boulter et al. (2014), demonstrating significant indirect pathways from experiences in school, sensory sensitivities and autism traits to anxiety through intolerance of uncertainty.

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Sense of school belonging: How can schools make a difference?

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Ashleigh Shuttleworth
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

The review investigated what school based interventions currently exist for supporting pupils sense of school belonging (SoSB). The search yielded 20 articles to be included in the review, and from these studies, 21 different intervention programmes were identified. Whilst all interventions aimed to increase SoSB, they were variable in many other aspects. To support synthesis of results, interventions were categorised as universal or targeted programmes and further divided based on common themes. Twelve studies reported a positive and significant effect of experimental condition on SoSB scores and one study reported a negative effect of experimental condition. Results support the notion that SoSB is malleable and can be enhanced through intervention support. All studies appear to incorporate aspects of teacher support and/ or personal characteristics, identified as having the largest effects with SoSB within Allen and colleagues’ meta-analysis (2016). In addition, the data presents a trend towards targeted interventions being more effective than universal interventions, presenting particularly positive effects of SoSB for ‘atrisk’ students. Implications are discussed in regards to the utility and effectiveness of having SoSB interventions being led by members of the school community, and in regards to the potential negative effect of peer contagion when running a group intervention with ‘at-risk’ youth.

The empirical paper examined the effectiveness of two experimental school-based diary conditions (gratitude diary and appreciation diary) on the promotion of SoSB and positive affect (PA), in comparison to a control condition (event diary). Participants aged 7 to 11 years (M = 8.76) were recruited from five primary schools in the South of England (N = 287). The intervention was carried out as a class, with pupils randomly allocated to either the gratitude, appreciation or event diary condition. Participants completed the diaries daily for three weeks, leading to 15 possible diary entries. Measures of gratitude, SoSB and PA were obtained at pre-intervention, postintervention and at a three-week follow-up, in addition to a pre-intervention measure of nostalgia proneness. Findings revealed that the intervention had been unsuccessful in manipulating gratitude, and ANOVAs for SoSB and PA revealed no significant effect of condition. However, a moderate positive correlation between gratitude, SoSB and PA change scores was noted, suggesting the existence of a relationship between change in gratitude and change in SoSB and PA. Possible explanations for the lack of condition effect in the current study are presented, in addition to limitations of the study in regards to the validity of the gratitude measures used and fidelity to intervention conditions.

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Adoptive parenting from adolescence to early adulthood

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Leanne Curreli
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

Parenting can be challenging at any stage, but when a child goes through adolescence the many physical, emotional, social and cognitive changes mean these challenges are likely to be magnified. The many changes create increasing opportunities for young people to begin exploring their social roles and identity, as well as the rights and the responsibilities that come with those. Whilst the young people are experimenting during this transition, parents may need to provide supervision whilst simultaneously encouraging autonomy and remaining flexible. Parenting is a dynamic process that involves complex interactions between the parent, the young person and their environment. These factors influence the level of responsiveness and supervision provided by a parent in response to their child’s or adolescent’s needs and situation. Within the adoptive family, adolescents can provide an additional level of complexity. Existing literature suggests this is a time of vulnerability in adoptive placements, a time when adoptions are at high risk of placement breakdown. This systematic review explores the literature on the distinctive features of parenting an adopted adolescent. Two main themes were highlighted: parental responsiveness and supervision, and communicative openness, defined as the level of adoption-relevant discussion within an adoptive family. Parental responsiveness was important for adopted adolescents because it allows parents to support adolescent emotional, behavioural and social outcomes, as well as reducing family conflict. Open communication about adoption was found to reduce conflict and increase emotional well-being. Research suggests that being highly attuned and responsive to the young adoptees is linked to greater adoption-related open communication and better outcomes during adolescence.

Traditionally, much of the research regarding adoption has focused on negative outcomes. In recent years, however, the literature has begun to move from risk to resilience (Ferrari, Ranieri, Barni & Rosnati, 2015). Sonuga-Barke, Kennedy, Kumsta, Knights, Golm, Rutter, Maughan, Schlotz and Kreppner (2017) assessed the prevalence of neurodevelopmental and mental health outcomes associated with early deprivation and their persistence into young adulthood. They found that children adopted after six months of age (high risk) had persistently higher levels of neurodevelopmental difficulties and poor life outcomes. The current study utilised longitudinal data from the ERA study (Rutter et al., 1998) to examine if communicative openness during adolescence and associated parenting behaviours, including parental responsiveness and experience of parental adoption journey, predicted the development of resilience in a group of young people from an at-risk sample. The main findings indicated that there were important relationships between aspects of communicative openness, parental responsiveness and parental journey. In addition, the young person’s difficulty discussing their adoption and how and when information was disclosed, were factors relating to the development of resilience from infancy to adulthood. Parental responsiveness and the young person’s own positivity at age four to six years was also related to higher levels of resilience, as was evaluations of adoption, which was found to be stable between each assessment phase. Only higher levels of the young person’s difficulty discussing their adoption at age 15 and higher negative evaluations of adoption significantly predicted/contributed to lower levels of resilience in early adulthood. Lower levels of resilience were associated with poorer educational, emotional and employment outcomes.

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The participation of autistic pupils in decision-making about their school experiences: A case study of one school

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Chantelle Zilli
Submitted: June 2018

Abstract

Beginning reading skills are often taught through phonics-based methods. Learning to read is a cognitively demanding task, and for those children who struggle, research has shown that individualised interventions can facilitate the development of reading skills. Although research has demonstrated the effectiveness of phonics as a teaching method with typically developing children, less research has evaluated this method with children who are educated in special school settings. A systematic review was conducted to evaluate research over the past 43 years into the effectiveness of phonics as a method for teaching reading to children who are educated in special school settings. The findings suggested that phonics teaching leads to improvements in phonics skills. However, improvements in phonics skills often did not generalise to whole word reading skills.

The empirical paper evaluated the computerised phonics-based intervention Headsprout Early Reading with eight pupils aged 7 to 19 years, educated in a special school for children and young people who experience severe learning difficulties. The intervention took place over 21 weeks. Three learning conditions were employed, such that four participants completed Headsprout as it was designed with typically developing students, two participants did not complete negation activities, and two non-verbal participants completed Headsprout minus speaking activities. Results indicated that all of the participants improved in initial sound fluency, non-word reading, and word recognition. Participants in the no-negation condition showed improvements despite not completing these activities. The findings suggest that individualised phonics-based reading interventions can be used to support development of early reading skills for students are educated in special school settings.

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Evaluating the effectiveness of phonics as a method for teaching reading to children and young people who experience learning difficulties and are educated in Special School settings

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Emma Herring
Submitted: June 2017

Abstract

Beginning reading skills are often taught through phonics-based methods. Learning to read is a cognitively demanding task, and for those children who struggle, research has shown that individualised interventions can facilitate the development of reading skills. Although research has demonstrated the effectiveness of phonics as a teaching method with typically developing children, less research has evaluated this method with children who are educated in special school settings. A systematic review was conducted to evaluate research over the past 43 years into the effectiveness of phonics as a method for teaching reading to children who are educated in special school settings. The findings suggested that phonics teaching leads to improvements in phonics skills. However, improvements in phonics skills often did not generalise to whole word reading skills.

The empirical paper evaluated the computerised phonics-based intervention Headsprout Early Reading with eight pupils aged 7 to 19 years, educated in a special school for children and young people who experience severe learning difficulties. The intervention took place over 21 weeks. Three learning conditions were employed, such that four participants completed Headsprout as it was designed with typically developing students, two participants did not complete negation activities, and two non-verbal participants completed Headsprout minus speaking activities. Results indicated that all of the participants improved in initial sound fluency, non-word reading, and word recognition. Participants in the no-negation condition showed improvements despite not completing these activities. The findings suggest that individualised phonics-based reading interventions can be used to support development of early reading skills for students are educated in special school settings.

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The impact of attributions on the understanding and management of challenging behaviour in schools

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Emma Fitz-Gerald
Submitted: June 2017

Abstract

Although attribution theory has been well documented within the literature and applied to teaching, learning, and behaviour in the classroom, there has yet to be a systematic review of the literature pertaining to teacher attributions of challenging behaviour. This literature review set out to combine the evidence based in a systematic and critical way in order to answer the following questions: What attributions are teaching making around challenging behaviour in the classroom? In what way do these attributions impact on their management of behaviour in the classroom? Seventeen studies were included which explored causal attribution alongside controllability, types of behaviour, teacher factors, interventions, and referrals. Results indicate that teachers mainly make causal attributions which are external to themselves, which are mediated by perceptions of control, responsibility, and self-efficacy. In particular behaviour was seen as most difficult to manage when teachers attributed it to pupil or home factors, pupils were perceived to be in control of their behaviour, and the behaviour was thought to be stable over time. Limited links between attributions and referral decisions were found. Implications for EPs were discussed, in particular supporting teacher self-efficacy for classroom management.

Pupils displaying challenging behaviour are the population included in mainstream schools with the least success, with their behaviour regularly leading to fixed-term exclusions or placement in alternative provisions. Research has found the attributions teachers make about the causality of pupil behaviour can impact on subsequent behaviour management strategies in the classroom. However, attempts to understand the complexity of attribution processes has yet to be explored in a satisfactory way. In addition, the beliefs and attributions of the pupils themselves have remained largely unexplored. This study examined the perceptions of 10 secondary school staff teachers and five pupils, through semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis yielded six major themes within the data corpus relating to behaviour, behaviour management and the use of fixed-term exclusion. Results revealed four clear causal attributions for challenging behaviour in the classroom, which alongside mediating factors, such as self-efficacy, time and effort needed, and, remorsefulness, were related to either a helpless or hopeful discourse. Within the staff data set, conflict between static and flexible systems for managing behaviour was also seen. Implications for EPs are discussed in relation to building the resilience of teachers and schools in order to maintain the support for these pupils within mainstream settings.

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