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Title: Applying self-determination theory (SDT) in an emancipatory study with anxious adolescents to investigate any changes in anxiety and wellbeing
Author: Kearns, Tiffany
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 2477
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2017
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This research aimed to respond to a locally and nationally identified need (anonymous local authority, 2014; Department of Health, 2015) to improve wellbeing and reduce negative affect (i.e. anxiety) in young people (YP) by applying self-determination theory (SDT) (Deci & Ryan, 2000) in an empowerment process in two secondary/upper schools in one local authority. Four groups (n=13) of students from year 10, 11 and 13 who self-reported to be anxious were invited to participate in focus groups to discuss the causes of their anxieties and suggest school based mechanisms of support. Each group decided how they wanted to feedback their ideas to senior management who then explained what they would change to address students’ suggestions. Participants’ group notes from the focus groups were used to examine reported causes of anxiety and suggestions to improve wellbeing. Three quantitative questionnaires were used to measure changes in anxiety, wellbeing and need fulfilment, according to SDT, while a semi-structured questionnaire was used to measure any descriptive changes noticed by the students during the research. Thematic analyses of the qualitative data found that participants attributed causes of anxiety to factors that thwarted SDT need fulfilment while the support strategies they suggested were those that nurtured SDT need fulfilment. Due to the small sample, statistical significance claims cannot be made. However, the data appear to suggest overall improvements in anxiety and one aspect of wellbeing (i.e. positive affect). An overall improvement in need fulfilment was found more strongly in the qualitative data and older participants (year 13) made greater gains in the dependent variables compared to their younger counterparts (year 10&11). This research has implications for schools and Educational Psychologists and offers suggestions for future research in this area.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral