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Title: Eliciting 'best' learning experiences within an SEBD school provision : a model of appreciative inquiry
Author: Roche, Mary-Kate
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 6100
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
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The overarching purpose of my research was to elicit student views as to what factors or conditions might best facilitate ideal learning circumstances at a secondary school for social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) based in a South England local authority. My review of the literature shed light on the dichotomous nature of inclusion. In an ideal world, mainstream schools would be in a position to include and support the social and emotional needs of all young students. The fact remains, that SEBD schools in current operation, need to maximise their use of resources and skills so as to support educational outcomes. I used an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) methodology, which is a strengths-based approach, to identify the 'best' or,optimal moments or experiences within the educational journeys of student participants. Through the principles of social constructivism and positivity, my aim was to affirm and empower the student voice. My research questions related to factors or variables that served to strengthen emotional well-being, motivation to achieve and positive perceptions of identity within the participant sample. The process was steeped in dialogue relating to attributes and best practice within the school system, whilst discourse was steered towards the possible evolution of 'best' features. I used a combination of a focus group and individual interviews with participants, in order to enhance the capacity of the young participants to articulate their valued school variables, facilitating a collective discussion as to how these might be further amplified. Photo elicitation was used by some participants as a preferred modality of engagement, further enabling the expression of views and preferences. My unique contribution was the use of an appreciative methodological orientation in terms of capturing the perceptions of young participants. The application of AI in schools and classrooms is quite sparse. Since this particular use of AI is relatively under-researched, it offered an appropriate gap in the literature in terms of exploring capacity for growth and development within an SEBD school environment. Having categorised and analysed the data by adopting a thematic analysis, my discussion built upon conceptual interpretations of my findings, which were broadly categorised Within the themes of belonging, relationships and learning context. Findings implicated the importance of personalised curricula and respectful relationships with teachers as pivotal to student progress across all domains of learning development. In terms of bridging the gap between my findings and theory, a set of practical recommendations were devised and the implications for the role of the educational psychologist were derived. Finally, the strengths and limitations of this study, along with scope for future directions were considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Psy) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available