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CRICOS No. 00213J Teachers’ understanding of school connectedness: Implications for the development and implementation of school based injury prevention.

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Presentation on theme: "CRICOS No. 00213J Teachers’ understanding of school connectedness: Implications for the development and implementation of school based injury prevention."— Presentation transcript:

1 CRICOS No J Teachers’ understanding of school connectedness: Implications for the development and implementation of school based injury prevention strategies Rebekah Chapman, Dr Lisa Buckley & Prof Mary Sheehan 27 th International Congress of Applied Psychology July 2010

2 Injury in adolescence Need for preventive intervention prior to dramatic increase in injury at years: % deaths due to injury AIHW, 2008

3 Risk taking and injury A high level of injuries among adolescents are due to risk taking – Including violence & transport risks; often occurring in the context of alcohol use year olds who report high levels of risk taking are 2.46 times more likely to report medically treated injuries (Pickett et al., 2002)

4 School connectedness The school environment has an impact on adolescent behaviour School connectedness has been identified as a critical protective factor –Defined as “the extent to which students feel personally accepted, respected, included and supported by others in the school social environment” (Goodenow, 1993, p. 80).

5 Components of school connectedness School connectedness Affective (e.g. feelings of belonging) Behavioural (e.g. involvement & engagement) Cognitive (e.g. perceptions of teacher support)

6 School connectedness research Positively associated with: –Academic motivation, achievement and school retention (e.g. Goodenow, 1993; Archambault et al., 2009) –Students’ emotional health (e.g. Anderman, 2002; Shochet et al., 2006; Shochet et al., 2007) Negatively associated with risk taking & injury: –Violence (e.g. Dornbusch et al., 2001) –Alcohol and drug use (e.g. McNeely & Falci, 2004) –Transport risk behaviours (Chapman, Buckley & Sheehan, 2009)

7 Mechanism Social control theory (Hirschi, 1969) –Dimensions of connectedness (bonding): Attachment – liking for school, respect & liking for school staff Commitment – level of personal investment Involvement – participation in school activities Belief – commitment to values, norms & rules

8 School and connectedness School connectedness is related to school factors: –Classroom management (e.g. McNeely et al., 2002) –Tolerant discipline policies (e.g. Whitlock, 2006; McNeely et al., 2002) –Teacher support (e.g. McNeely et al., 2002) –Positive student - teacher relationships (e.g. Voisin et al., 2005) –Teachers’ expectations for success (e.g. Blum, 2005) –Connection with at least one adult at school (e.g. Blum, 2005)

9 Project rationale Existing interventions generally focus on individual characteristics (e.g. knowledge, attitudes) rather than wider social and institutional influences Theoretical models (e.g. Jessor, 2003) suggest the need to support individual attitude and behaviour change with social/contextual protection An intervention targeting classroom and wider school level changes might provide an effective complement to individual-focused risk and injury interventions

10 Research aim To examine teachers’ perceptions of school connectedness and their approaches to increasing connectedness Issues covered: –Perceptions of the relationship between school connectedness and risk taking/ injury –Strategies used to increase students’ connectedness to school –Perceptions and attitudes regarding professional development in school connectedness.

11 Method Participants & Measures n=13 Health & PE teachers (2 South-east Qld state high schools) –Semi-structured interviews – questions formed part of broader discussion on risk taking, injury, interventions & mentoring n=35 Qld Education Department employees (including teachers – 15 schools) –Focus groups – questions again formed part of broader discussions on risk and injury prevention Participants & Measures n=13 Health & PE teachers (2 South-east Qld state high schools) –Semi-structured interviews – questions formed part of broader discussion on risk taking, injury, interventions & mentoring n=35 Qld Education Department employees (including teachers – 15 schools) –Focus groups – questions again formed part of broader discussions on risk and injury prevention Procedure Written consent Interviews, focus groups of approximately 45 minutes Audio recorded and transcribed verbatim; analysed using NVIVO Procedure Written consent Interviews, focus groups of approximately 45 minutes Audio recorded and transcribed verbatim; analysed using NVIVO

12 Results Teachers’ perceptions of the relationship between school connectedness and risk taking/ injury Teachers described dimensions of school connectedness and how they relate to risk taking ThemeExample quote BelongingEveryone wants a sense of belonging, and I’ve found; kids in grade 8 and 9 that didn’t have much confidence, that weren’t really fitting in anywhere…they’ve tended to start hanging out with the bad people because they feel that sense of belonging Feeling valued There are some that just don’t…have value of their lives. The difference is that, if the kid feels like they have a worthwhile life and they’re told they’re worthwhile, they look after themselves I guess the basic thing is that kids need to know that they’re valuable people…They need to know the dangers of what risk taking behaviour can be; they need to know that …someone is going to say, “I can help you”

13 Results Teachers’ perceptions of the relationship between school connectedness and risk taking/ injury ThemeExample quote Teacher support I’ve just tried to develop rapport. It works well because kids can talk to me about their problems and because we put in the hard work we don’t have any behaviour management problems EngagementGive them a role. I know that works…give me a role and I’ll get more focused and stop misbehaving I suppose what we need to do as teachers is to find something, a positive success, rather than a negative success so they’re feeling important

14 Results Strategies used to encourage school connectedness among students Teachers identified a number of strategies that they either used, or thought would be effective, to increase connectedness among students ThemeExample quote Warm relationships & taking an interest It’s a lot easier to talk to kids when we’re doing prac because, as we’re walking down to the oval or whatever you might get them to help you get some stuff. Say, you know, “How are things going? How was your weekend?” You might just go over to them, have a look at their work and have a bit of a chat, say hi Inclusion We do self esteem stuff in (Health) class in grade 9. I always make them at the start of the term get up and talk about themselves for a minute and I do it as well, and I’ll tell them something that’s not school based Try and find something that each kid likes to do

15 Results Strategies used to encourage school connectedness among students ThemeExample quote Strength focus Everyone should have a little job, to teach that kid to do something, to get something positive out of them. Most kids disengaged from school are the kids who think they’re not worth anything. So try to engage them back into something Equity & fairness If a student has done something wrong, I would try to keep the relationship the same with them as it has always been and let them know that I still like them, it’s just their behaviour that I’m not keen on You need to know your stuff, what you’re doing, you need to be confident. And you’ve got to be friendly to them, as well as be authoritative. They’ve got to know that yep, he’s a cool teacher, but if you do something wrong, there’s consequences

16 Results Perceptions and attitudes regarding professional development (PD) in school connectedness, and what should be included Teachers indicated that training in connectedness and risk & injury prevention would be useful, and gave a number of suggestions for the PD ThemeExample quote Problem of risk taking and injury A lot of risk taking here is not just through sport. That’s simple stuff…the most risks they take here are drugs and alcohol and doing stupid stuff once they’re under the influence of one of those, so it would be a good idea to do some sort of in-service so teachers can understand the kids a bit better You need to know which kids could be at risk, maybe some simple signs or symptoms. Some staff probably don’t understand that as much Strategies -engaging students If he’s not working in class, it’s up to you. Some teachers don’t realise it’s them its not the kid. They need to find ways to engage the kid Just being able to give staff an idea how to speak to the kids about their problems

17 Summary of findings Teachers identified links between aspects of connectedness and students’ risk behaviour Teachers saw the importance students’ connectedness to school, especially among those at risk for problem behaviour Strategies used to promote connectedness include building warm relationships, taking an interest, being inclusive, focusing on strengths, and treating students fairly PD for teachers in connectedness seen as useful

18 Implications for intervention Teachers see professional development in school connectedness as valuable Teachers’ suggestions can inform program development –Also provide ecologically valid material (e.g. strategies) to include in program content

19 Conclusions The established link between school connectedness and problem behaviour has implications for school based prevention Targeting school connectedness, in conjunction with individual level programs, may be an effective school- based intervention strategy –Particularly as teachers see this as valuable

20 Future research This research forms part of a larger theory based project to reduce risk taking and injury among early adolescents –Student surveys - Association between school connectedness and risk taking/ injury –Development and pilot of a school connectedness intervention (Teacher PD); in conjunction with a curriculum based risk and injury prevention program –Outcome and process evaluation

21 Questions? Mark your Diaries! International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety Conference (T2013) August 2013, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre


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