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Title: 'Doing something and getting it right'? : constructing alternative approaches to emotional wellbeing in the classroom
Author: Gilling, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 3801
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2011
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This piece of research explored the construct of emotional wellbeing and how it is supported in the classroom. UK government policies and national strategies have emphasised the importance of supporting emotional development in educational contexts, yet wellbeing has proven difficult to define and the theoretical assumptions underpinning interventions shape the discourses and social practices that surround it. Evidence suggests that young people are best supported through universal approaches and, as such, teachers are being challenged to provide more than academic instruction. A systematic review of the effectiveness of teacher led emotional wellbeing interventions examined three key points: the theoretical underpinnings of the interventions, teacher practice, and how emotional wellbeing was constructed on the basis of the employed outcome measures. The findings indicated that the majority of interventions were based on behaviourist and cognitive-behavioural models. Teachers' roles were constructed as doing something to "solve" problems and reduce "social inadequacy". This assumption was based on viewing emotional wellbeing from a structuralist perspective using observable and often standardised measures. One study, in contrast, used narrative and biopsychosocial approaches indicating the promising emergence of alternative avenues for educational practitioners. The review highlighted the lack of exploration and acknowledgement of the experiences and values of individuals. My research project aimed to take a social constructionist stance to privilege individuals' voices over discourses of global truths around wellbeing. Narrative approaches fitted with this position and, as such, narrative therapeutic conversations were used as a method to collect the views of three individuals in a small case study. The stories of the young person, parent and teacher were analysed using constructionist grounded theory. The findings showed that the use of narrative approaches illuminated the possibility for change in both the understanding of emotional wellbeing outside of structuralist notions, and classroom practice in response to emotional wellbeing. The adoption of a narrative approach both as a therapeutic method and as a research framework was considered in the context of a social constructionist theory. These new understandings have implications for educational psychologists' practice in encouraging a shift away from the global knowledge constructed through categorisation, pathologising and solving, towards acknowledging local knowledges in which skills, strengths and resources are privileged.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.App.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available