Vol. 11, Issue 1, April 2019

Special issue: Qualitative Research on Children's Well-being Across National and Cultural Contexts
Guest editors: Tobia Fattore, Susann Fegter and Christine Hunner-Kreisel


  1. Children´s Emotional Geographies of Well-being: The Cultural Constitution of Belonging(s) in the Context of Migration and Digital Technologies
    Susann Fegter and Claudia Mock
    pp 13 - 30
    “My most special place is my home(land) country [“Heimatland”], because there I always feel so comfortable.” The spatial dimension of children´s well-being has been receiving more attention in child well-being research recently. Empirical studies show for example the effects of the built and natural environments on children´s objective and subjective well-being or the subjective meanings that children attach to the concept of well-being in respect to place and space. What is not well understood so far is the cultural dimension of these phenomena and understandings. The aim of this paper is therefore to outline a cultural analytical approach to the spatial constitution of well-being and to provide analytical heuristics to reconstruct the spatial constitution of well-being as a cultural construct in discursive practices that children take part in. The paper also provides an empirical example that illustrates this heuristic approach and shows how belonging(s) are constituted as a spatial construct beyond local and national territories. The paper ends with a summary of how the findings and the cultural approach might inform child well-being research and the spatial (re)constitution of well-being in the context of migration and digital technologies.

  2. Teachers’ perceptions and practice of social and emotional education in Greece, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom
    Edurne Scott Loinaz
    pp 31 - 48
    The central motive for conducting this research was to investigate how Greece, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom treat social and emotional education (SEE) within pedagogical practice. The study used a sequential quantitative-qualitative analysis with a comparative design, with 750 teachers in the initial quantitative phase participating in a questionnaire, and 22 teachers in the following qualitative phase participating in semi-structured interviews. Significant cross-cultural differences were found in SEE provision, as well as in teachers’ beliefs about the purpose of SEE. Teacher education in SEE was found to be available to only a minority of teachers in all four countries. In terms of practice, SEE was more likely to be introduced in schools by teachers themselves (or a partnership between teachers and headteachers) rather than by educational policy. Furthermore, the findings show that SEE provision was more likely to be implicit (taken into consideration in existing classes but not taught as a separate subject), than explicit (having dedicated time and curriculum devoted to SEE).

  3. Schools for well-being? Critical discussions with schoolchildren
    Dagmar Kutsar, Kadri Soo and Liis-Marii Mandel
    pp 49 - 66
    International quantitative studies among children, such as the Health Behaviour of School-Aged Children and the Programme for International Student Assessment have revealed a gap between learning outcomes and children’s subjective well-being across countries. The Children’s Worlds international study showed that liking school decreases from the second to the sixth grade. Compared to other countries the decrease is one of the biggest among schoolchildren in Estonia. The aim of the study is to find in-depth evidence to explain the low level of satisfaction with school life and reasons for the decrease in children liking school in Estonia. The analysis is based on data from eight focus group interviews with 12-year-old children in rural and urban schools. The study showed that children develop negative feelings from various aspects of school life that leads to criticism and a dislike for school. Bullying among children and behavioural shortcomings of teachers (including coping with personal distress) are the key factors that decrease the well-being of many children and cause a dislike of school. An ideal school-for well-being would promote physical, social and mental well-being for both children and teachers.

  4. School Climate, Emotions, and Relationships: Children’s Experiences of Well-Being in the Midwestern U.S.
    Lisa A. Newland, Daniel A. DeCino, Daniel J. Mourlam and Gabrielle A. Strouse
    pp 67 - 83
    The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore children’s perceptions of school relationships, and the ways in which those relationships supported or undermined children’s emotional well-being (EWB). This sub-study of a multinational comparative investigation of children’s well-being followed a semi-structured qualitative interview protocol. Rural and urban children (age 8 to 13, N = 23) from the Midwestern U.S. completed the interview and mapping exercise used to explore aspects of and influences on their subjective well-being (including school). Phenomenological analyses of interview transcripts focused on 1) the essence of children’s EWB (including emotional valence and arousal) within the context of school relationships and 2) children’s perception of the impact of school relationships on their EWB. A seasonal metaphor captured the essence of children’s experiences of EWB, which naturally clustered into four themes based on emotional intensity and valance: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Children’s emotional experiences with teachers and peers were similarly represented in the themes, with the exception of winter emotions, which diverged. Children expressed complex, multilayered emotions within the school setting that were connected to the quality of school relationships. Findings are discussed in the context of improving school relationships and climate to support children’s EWB.

  5. ‘I get to learn more stuff’: Children’s Understanding of Wellbeing at School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    Elizabeth Huynh and Ashley Stewart-Tufescu
    pp 84 - 96
    This purpose of this study was to explore how school-aged children understand dimensions of wellbeing in a Canadian context in participation of the Multi-national Qualitative Study – Children’s Understanding of Wellbeing. Twenty-one school-aged children (boys = 8, girls = 13) participated in semi-instructed interviews facilitated by tactile, tasked oriented interview tool. Participants were recruited from seven before- and-after-school child-care programs throughout the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The wellbeing of children at school was influenced by the quality of the relationships they had with their teachers. Children recognized teachers as being essential agents in their learning process and teaching them essential skills for their future. Children who described feeling positive about school were children who felt that their teachers were supportive, provided creative ways to learn, and listened to their ideas and concerns. Conversely, children who described negative feelings about school discussed experiencing teachers who did not value their ideas and concerns, and were not supportive in their individual needs as a learner. The teaching style of teachers affect children’s wellbeing at school. Teachers who promote wellbeing at school and positive feeling associated with learning are those who consider the voices and needs of their students, as well as make efforts to incorporate those considerations in their curriculum.

  6. I Am Me: Adolescent Perspectives of a School-Based Universal Intervention Program Designed to Promote Emotional Competence
    Kimberley Lakes, Helena May Nguyen, Marissa Jones and Sabrina E. B. Schuck
    pp 97 - 114
    The aim of this paper is to describe a school-based universal intervention (the Tilly’s Life Center “I Am Me” program) to promote emotional competence and social-emotional skills in adolescents. We present results of a mixed-methods program evaluation conducted in public schools in Southern California. In Study 1, sixteen students (grades 10-12) participated in focus groups after twelve weeks of intervention. In Study 2, fifty-four students (grades 9-10) participated in either the universal intervention program (I Am Me) or a no-intervention comparison group for thirty-six weeks. We conducted focus groups with 50 adolescents in the I Am Me program and used quantitative methods to measure self-esteem and perceived stress at four time points for both groups in Study 2. Descriptive data suggested improvements in self-esteem and perceived stress among individuals participating in the I Am Me group. Thematic analysis of focus group data indicated that participants perceived improvement in key areas of emotional development, including: emotional competence (understanding, expressing, and regulating emotions), self-regulation, self-esteem, and social skills. Moreover, participants perceived the intervention as relevant and as having a positive lifelong impact on their development.  Further research is needed to empirically validate these outcomes using a randomized experimental design.

  7. Is there a place for children as emotional beings in child protection policy and practice?
    Gabrielle Drake, Michel Edenborough, Jan Falloon, Tobia Fattore, Rhea Felton, Jan Mason and Lise Mogensen
    pp 115 - 134
    The emotional aspects of children’s social relations have generally been marginalised in social science discourse. Children, who participated in the Australian segment of the Children’s Understandings of Well-being (CUWB) project used various media to ‘voice’ the importance for their well-being of emotional relatedness with family, friends, animals and places. In this paper we place our construction of children’s discussion of emotional relatedness in the context of the ‘emotional turn’ in research and briefly describe how the methodology for our project facilitated an understanding of the importance of children’s emotions for their lives in the present. We then focus on the significance for child protection policy and practice, of what children tell us about feeling safe, as this relates to the importance of agency and relatedness with people and also with places.

    Other Papers
  8. An Integrative Approach to Evaluating the Implementation of Social and Emotional Learning and Gender-Based Violence Prevention Education
    Helen Cahill, Margaret L. Kern, Babak Dadvand, Emlyn Walter Cruickshank, Richard Midford, Catherine Smith, Anne Farrelly and Lindsay Oades
    pp 135 - 152
    Evaluation studies often use stand-alone and summative assessment strategies to examine the impacts of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Gender-based Violence (GBV) prevention education programs. However, implementation research is yet to offer an integrative framework that can be used to investigate the implementation drivers that lead to the uptake of programs that pursue SEL and GBV prevention agendas. We address this gap in research by presenting a framework developed to investigate factors affecting the implementation of the Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships program, an SEL and GBV prevention education program developed for primary and secondary schools in the state of Victoria, Australia. Drawing upon and advancing a conceptual framework for implementation fidelity proposed by Carroll and colleagues we discuss the iterative process designed to investigate the individual, school and system level factors within the wider political and ideological setting(s) of the program that impact on its implementation. Within this iterative process, we highlight the need to focus on ‘the ecology of relations’ that exists between various implementation elements, and their possible mediating impact on program delivery, uptake and outcomes.

  9. Enhancing pre-service teachers’ socio-emotional competence
    Jonas Aspelin
    pp 153 - 168
    A rapidly growing body of research reveals that teachers’ abilities to build positive relationships with students play a vital role in education. However, there is a lack of research regarding teacher education. This article aims to contribute by reporting from a project focusing on pre-service teachers’ relational competence. More specifically, it focuses on a phenomenon labelled socio-emotional competence. The first section discusses meanings of the concept, using a relational framework, and it highlights three aspects: i) the teacher acts sensitively and responsively; ii) the teacher is directly present to the student and manages feelings; and iii) the teacher confirms the student and supports the student’s emotional development. The next section discusses indications of improvement in pre-service teachers’ socio-emotional competence, based on data from an intervention study using digital video as the main method. The findings show that pre-service teachers’ relational understandings improved in several respects: they began to use a variety of words for specific emotions, to understand emotions as aspects of interaction, and to support their interpretations with behavioral cues. The concluding section considers why the intervention was successful and why socio-emotional competence seems to play a subordinate role in teacher education.

  10. Short Research Report: The Role of Language in the Relationship between Emotion Comprehension and Theory of Mind in Preschool Children
    Renata Sarmento-Henrique, Patricia Recio, Beatriz Lucas-Molina, Laura Quintanilla, Marta Giménez-Dasípp 169 - 176

    Book Reviews