University of Malta
 

Volume 6, Issue 1, April 2014
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Special issue: Exploring Social and Emotional Learning: Contributions from two European Conferences

Guest Editors: Kathy Evans, Knut Gundersen & Renata Miljevic-Ridicki

 

Editorial [PDF]


1) Social Emotional Competence - too much or too little

Knut K. Gundersen                                                                                                          pp. 4 - 13

When we measure social competence, the scores indicate that a person can become better and better just as in other school subjects such as history or geography. In general, these scores also give an actual picture of the status and/or progress of the person’s social competence. However, it might be preferable to portray many of the dimensions of social competence as a continuum where the optimal level could be in the middle rather than at one of the ends. That is to say, social initiatives could take place too often or too seldom, or a person could take others’ needs into consideration too little, but also too much, to the detriment of his or her own needs. This implies that the overall purpose in a training social and emotional learning program might at the same time involve training some participants to do less of something and others to do more.  The present article reflects on different continua involved in social competence training and suggests that the facilitator needs to analyse the needs of each of the participants in a group and adapt the training program accordingly. The implications for conducting a program, composition of programs  and for the training of facilitators are also discussed. 

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2) Efficacy of Aggression Replacement Training among Children from North- West Russia  

Roman Koposov, Knut K. Gundersen and Frode Svartdal                                                   pp. 14 - 24

The aim of the study was to assess whether the Aggression Replacement Training (ART) programme is effective in increasing social skills and decreasing problem behaviour. The sample consisted of 232 children (mean age 10.9 yrs, SD=2.32), their parents and teachers. The study had a quasi-experimental design with intervention and control groups. Children were recruited from six schools and four social institutions from four regions in North-West Russia from 2010 to 2013. Social skills and externalizing behaviour were assessed with the Social Skills Rating Scale and analyzed by repeated measures ANOVA (GLM). In a pre and post-test assessment, the 30-hour ART programme was associated with a significant increase in social skills when assessed by children’s self-reports. The most reliable effects of the intervention were demonstrated in the two age groups of 6-9 and 10-14 years old. When both pre and post-test were assessed by parents and teachers, children from both the intervention and control groups demonstrated more social skills and less problem behaviour. Overall results point to a significant improvement of social skills among children from the intervention groups, but an improvement in social skills and reduction of problem behaviour have also been indicated among children from the control group. Findings are discussed in view to possible diffusion of treatment from children participating in an intervention to children from control groups.

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3) Understanding the Role of Bystanders and Peer Support in School Bullying

Helen Cowie                                                                                                               pp. 25 - 32

Research into school bullying has traditionally focussed on the actual protagonists – the perpetrators and the targets. Consequently, we know a great deal about the psychological characteristics of bullies and victims and the consequences of bullying in undermining the emotional well-being of both targets and perpetrators. While an understanding of the personal aspects of the bully-victim relationship is important, it only addresses part of the issue. Bullying is experienced within a group of peers who adopt different participant roles and who experience a range of emotions.  In this article, I argue that bullies do not act alone but rely on reinforcement from their immediate group of friends as well as the tacit approval of the onlookers. This article explores the conflicting emotions often experienced by the bystanders. It also makes some suggestions about interventions to empower bystanders to take action against bullying through, for example, such interventions as peer support.

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4) Parental Socialization of Emotion: How Mothers Respond to their Children's Emotions in Turkey

Ebru Ersay                                                                                                                    pp. 33 - 46

Several research studies suggest a link between parents’ emotion socialization and children’s social competence and behavior problems. Parents contribute to their children’s emotion socialization, more directly, through responses to their children’s emotions. Early emotion socialization experiences with parents establish patterns of emotion experience, expression, and regulation that children carry into their broader social circles. Few scales exist to document parents’ responses to children’s emotions. The aim of this study was to document mothers’ responses to their children’s sadness, anger, fear, and being overjoyed. A study sample of 868 mothers of preschoolers completed the questionnaire in Turkey. The validity and reliability properties of the Responses to Children’s Emotions (RCE) Questionnaire were also examined. We found that mothers in Turkey preferred to respond differently to children’s different emotions. Mothers’ responses generally did not differ according to the gender of their children; the only difference was found for sadness. Mothers’ responses to their children’s emotions related to the children’s and mothers’ ages, monthly family income, levels of mothers’ education,  mothers’ employment status, birth order of children, and the city they lived in. This study is important in that it is the first to document mothers’ emotion socialization strategies for their children in terms of one positive and three negative emotions.

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5) Developing Transformative Schools: A Resilience-Focused Paradigm for Education

William G. Nicoll                                                                                                            pp. 47 - 65

For the better part of the past century, the field of education has witnessed repeated calls and initiatives for change, reform and improvement of our schools. Yet today, the problems of improving academic achievement and social adjustment among youth continue unabated. An explanation for this ‘change without change’ phenomenon is offered which differentiates innovative change from transformative change processes. A review of the research evidence regarding resilience and positive youth development, both academically and socially, is utilized to formulate a conceptual framework for guiding educators in creating resilience-focused, transformative schools. Specific attention is addressed to the application of such concepts as mindsets, resilience, social-emotional competencies, and supportive social environments (family and school) in adopting a new, transformative paradigm for developing more effective schools and more capable youth. 

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6) Bullying amongst University Students in the UK

Helen Cowie and Carrie-Anne Myers                                                                               pp. 66 - 75

This study with 20 university students examined perspectives in three different participant roles: the perpetrator, the target and the bystander.  The purpose of the exercise was to resolve the outcome of an alleged incident of cyberbullying using a social network site via the means of a restorative conference. The findings suggest that the power of the peer group needs to be fully understood if cyberbullying, is to be tackled efficiently. The bystanders tended to blame the victim and were reluctant to intervene, the victim felt let down and marginalised by peers’ indifference and hostility, and the bully failed to realise or understand the consequences of their actions.  The study offers ideas for strategies and policies to address the issue of cyberbullying with university students.

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7) Enabling undergraduates to put in practice learning to support emotional well-being for children and young people

Wendy Turner                                                                                                               pp. 76 - 94

In the UK policies such as the Children’s Plan 2008 -2020 through to Promoting the Emotional Health of Children and Young People (2010)  identify that professionals such as teachers, youth workers, social workers and youth offending specialists, do not have the necessary underpinning knowledge to adequately support children and young people’s emotional well-being. Further that these professionals fail to recognise when a child or young person may need additional help. These findings suggest that gaining knowledge and understanding of emotional well-being for children and young people is a key requirement for those working in this field. This paper is an evaluation of an initiative that saw a partnership of developing joint learning materials from expert emotional well-being organisations being delivered as part of an undergraduate award at a traditional Higher Educational (HE) Institution. The evaluation showed that the introduction of  interactive, e-learning materials, supplemented with role play and scenario based learning and running concurrently alongside  work experiences enabled students to acquire and apply knowledge and understanding of emotional well-being for children and young people to real situations, and thus bridged the ‘practice –theory gap’.

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