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Title: Critical incidents : exploring theory, policy and practice
Author: Beeke, Matthew A.
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: UCL Institute of Education (IOE)
Date of Award: 2011
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Responding to critical incidents in school communities has become an established part of the practice of educational psychologists (EPs). Despite this the EP professional journal literature is sparse, the last major study being conducted by Houghton in 1996. Within a mixed methods design this study aimed to explore various aspects of EP practice in response to critical incidents. Firstly, critical incident policy and EP journal literature was examined to provide a definition of 'critical incident'. Secondly, following a review of relevant literature separate online questionnaires were developed and completed by 39 Principal EPs and 50 EPs to provide an overview of practice in response to critical incidents. Thirdly, semi-structured interviews were carried out with a number of practicing EPs. Within an 'espoused theory / theory in use' framework, the interviews sought to examine EP practice in relation to theory espoused in the relevant professional and policy literature. The definition generated, which remained robust throughout the study, suggested a systemic impact of critical incidents as well as the impact on individuals and groups. Questionnaire data indicated that critical incident training and policy are now widespread. Debriefing was commonly carried out by EPs following critical incidents and supervision for EPs remained a salient issue. Evaluation of the critical incident work described was largely through informal consultation with school staff. The thematic analysis of interview data yielded several factors and theories in the practice of EPs that had received relatively little attention in policy and EP journal literature. Consideration of the wider trauma literature led to further suggestions of ways in which these may be applied to EP practice. It is argued that greater consideration of the systemic impact of critical incidents coupled with an awareness of the application of salutogenic and positive psychology approaches can provide balance to conceptualisations based on the negative sequelae for individuals and groups.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available