University of Malta
 

Volume 6, Issue 2, November 2014
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Editorial [PDF]


1) Sensitizing Children to the Social and Emotional Mechanisms involved in Racism: A Program Evaluation 

Sofia Triliva, Tanya Anagnostopoulou and Georgios Vleioras                                             pp. 3 - 20

This paper describes and discusses the results of an intervention aiming to sensitize children to the social and emotional processes involved in racism. The intervention was applied and evaluated in 10 Greek elementary schools. The goals and the intervention methods of the program modules are briefly outlined and the results of the program evaluation are elaborated and discussed.  Two-hundred students participated in the program and 180 took part in the pre-and-post-testing which assessed  their ability to identify emotions associated with prejudice, discrimination and stereotypical thinking; to understand similarities and differences between people; and to develop perspective taking and empathic skills in relation to diverse others.  Results indicate gains in all three areas of assessment although the increased ability to identify similarities between people can also be attributed to age/grade effects. The implications of the findings are discussed with regard to antiracism intervention methods and evaluation strategies.

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2) An Exploratory Study of the Effects of Mindfulness on Perceived Levels of Stress among school-children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds   

Elizabeth Costello and Margaret Lawler                                                                         pp. 21 - 39

Children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are at increased risk of experiencing stress and associated social-emotional difficulties and behavioural problems, which can undermine academic performance and lead to school drop-out. Previous studies investigating the effects of mindfulness have evidenced positive outcomes among children pertaining to enhanced well-being, school-based competence and decreased levels of stress and anxiety. However, these studies have typically examined teacher’s perceptions of change or quantitative outcomes without consideration of children’s experiences.  The present study employs an interpretative qualitative approach to gain a greater understanding of children’s experiences of mindfulness in dealing with stress. A 5-week school-based mindfulness program was performed with 63 primary school children at risk of social exclusion in education. Interviews were undertaken with 16 children and 2 teachers. Thematic analysis identified five key themes labelled conceptualisation of stress, awareness, self-regulation, classroom regulations and addressing future stress. Quantitative measures of children’s perceived stress levels evaluated at baseline and follow-up also revealed significant reductions post intervention. These findings offer support for the incorporation of mindfulness interventions into the school curriculum, as a means of empowering children to address stress in their lives and improving full participation in the education system.

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3) Coping with Verbal and Social Bullying in Middle School  

Christopher Donoghue, Angela Almeida, David Brandwein, Gabriela Rocha and Ian Callahan

                                                             pp. 40 - 53

Becoming a victim of verbal and social bullying in middle school can lead to illness, psychological stress, and maladjustment. The coping strategies that students utilize when they are bullied may influence the likelihood and severity of these negative effects. In this study, we examined the predictions made by students in two middle schools about the ways that they would cope with becoming a victim of verbal and social bullying. We also analyzed influences for coping strategies and student willingness to seek help with bullying at school. The results show that middle school students generally expect that they will utilize adaptive approach strategies in trying to solve the problem or obtain support from others, but those who had been victimized in the last month were more likely than those not involved in bullying, to predict that they would engage in maladaptive avoidance coping strategies if victimized in the future. Willingness to seek help was found to be enhanced by approach coping strategies, less aggressive attitudes, and lower perceptions of school bullying. Policy implications for efforts to encourage approach coping strategies in middle school students through educational interventions and school counseling are discussed.

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4) Functioning of social skills from middle childhood to early adolescence in Hungary

Anikó Zsolnai and László Kasik                                                                                       p. 54 - 68

The aim of this cross-sectional study was to describe the social skills that crucially affect children's social behaviour in the school. Our objective was to gather information about the functioning of social skills from middle childhood to early adolescence. The sample consisted of 7-, 9- and 11-year-old Hungarian students (N=1398). Based on Stephens’s (1992) list of social skills, a 54-item Likert-type questionnaire (teacher-, parent- and self-report versions) was developed especially for this purpose. The child and the adult versions share the same structure and scale items. The results show no spontaneous development at the level of social skills between the ages of 7 and 11. There was a moderate correlation between the three evaluators’ judgements concerning the level of children’s social skills. All three respondent groups indicated that girls’ social skills were slightly more developed than boys’. Teachers, however, perceived this difference to be twice as large as the other two raters. To sum up our results indicate that for a large percentage of participants, the acquisition of social skills has not been completed at 11 years old. This finding indicates that more attention should be paid to fostering social skills early at school.

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5) Using Inquiry-Based Learning to Support the Mathematical Learning of Students with SEBD

Jonathan Camenzuli and Michael A. Buhagiar                                                                pp. 69 - 85

This paper, which draws on action research methodology, explores the use of inquiry-based learning (IBL) in the teaching of mathematics to students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD). The year-long study was conducted in a Form 3 secondary class that grouped 13 male students with SEBD in a Maltese secondary school. After first creating an IBL-friendly classroom environment in the initial months, the actual implementation of IBL pedagogy in class began in the second term and spread over a 15 week period. The data included teacher observations that were recorded in a reflective research journal, two sessions of in-depth interviews with students, student journal writing, samples of students’ work and student marks in the school-based half-yearly and annual mathematics examinations. The findings indicate that the use of IBL in the mathematics classroom can benefit students with SEBD in a number of ways. These include infusing a sense of enjoyment during lessons, improved student behaviour and motivation to learn, and facilitating the learning of mathematics which generally translated in higher achievement levels.

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6) Short discussion paper 1: 

From Pisa to Santander: A Statement on Children's Growth and Wellbeing 

Carmel Cefai, Christopher Clouder, Davide Antognazza, Neil Boland, Valeria Cavioni, Belinda Heys, Claudia Madrazo and Claes Solborg                                                                                     pp. 86 - 89

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7) Short discussion paper 2:

Implications of the Marketization of Higher Education for Social Emotional Development in Schools: A Personal View 

Paul Cooper                                                                                                                 pp. 90 - 94

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Book Reviews [PDF]

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