University of Malta
 

Volume 7, Issue 1, April 2015
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Special issue: Promotion of Mental Health and Wellbeing in Young People

Guest Editors: Phillip T. Slee, Donna Cross & Grace Skrzypiec

 

Editorial [PDF]


1) Young people's views regarding participation in mental health and wellbeing research through social media

Helen Monks, Patricia Cardoso, Alana Papageorgiou, Catherine Carolan, Leesa Costello and Laura Thomas                                            pp. 4 - 19

Social media is a central component in the lives of many young people, and provides innovative potential to conduct research among this population. Ethical issues around online research have been subject to much debate, yet young people have seldom been consulted to provide a youth perspective and voice. Eight (8) focus groups involving 48 Grade 9 Western Australian secondary school students aged 13-14 years were held in 2012, to investigate how young people perceive the feasibility and acceptability of social media when used as a research tool to investigate various issues relevant to their mental health and wellbeing. Whilst young people recognise many benefits of researchers using social media in this way, such as its relevance, innovation and accessibility, there were salient issues of privacy, consent, and practicality that require careful negotiation. There is a need for continued exploration and scientific debate of the moral and ethical implications of using social media for research, to help ensure this is employed in an appropriate and effective way that is respectful of and sensitive to the needs and views of young people.

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2) Assessment for Learning and for Self-Regulation   

Zita Lysaght                                                                            pp. 20 - 34

Drawing on a research study of formative assessment practices in Irish schools, this paper traces the design, development and pilot of the Assessment for Learning Audit instrument (AfLAi) - a research tool for measuring teachers’ understanding and deployment of formative teaching, learning and assessment practices.  Underpinning the paper is an extensive body of international research connecting assessment for learning pedagogy with student self-regulation, mental health and well-being.  Reflecting on the potential of the AfLAi as a research tool, an activity systems framework is advanced as a mechanism to engage researchers and teachers in meaningful site-based continuous professional development that supports teachers’ interrogation of aggregated school data derived from their responses to the AfLAi.  It is argued that by de-privatising classroom practice in this way and challenging teachers to examine self-reports of their understanding and use of assessment for learning pedagogy, the extent to which students are afforded opportunities to develop as self-regulating learners is laid bare.  In turn, the teaching, learning and assessment conditions that serve to create and sustain self-regulation by students emerge. The paper is premised on a commitment to a biopsychosocial approach to mental health and to an inter-disciplinary, multi-lens, research agenda that will yield comprehensive, dynamic insights and understandings to inform future practice.

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3) If it's about me, why do it without me? Genuine student engagement in school cyberbullying education

Donna Cross, Leanne Lester, Amy Barnes, Patricia Cardoso and Kate Hadwen            pp. 35 - 51

This study reports on a three-year group randomized controlled trial, the Cyber Friendly Schools Project (CFSP), aimed to reduce cyberbullying among grade 8 students during 2010-2012. In each year, 14-15 year old student ‘cyber’ leaders acted as catalysts to develop and implement whole-school activities to reduce cyberbullying-related harms. This paper examines students’ leadership experiences and the effectiveness of their training and intervention efforts. A mixed methods research design comprising interviews and questionnaires was used to collect data from 225 grade 10 students at the end of their leadership years (2010 & 2011). Four to six cyber leaders were recruited from each of the 19 intervention schools involved in each year of the study. The cyber leaders reported high self-efficacy post-training, felt their intervention efforts made a difference, and experienced a sense of agency, belonging and competence when given opportunities for authentic leadership. They identified key barriers and enablers to achieving desired outcomes. Students greatly valued having their voices heard. Their engagement in the development and delivery of whole-school strategies allowed them to contribute to and enhance efforts to promote their peers’ mental health and wellbeing. However, a lack of support from school staff limits students’ effectiveness as change-enablers.

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4) Using the PhotoStory Method to understand the cultural context of youth victimisation in the Punjab

Grace Skrzypiec, Phillip Slee and Damanjit Sandhu                                                  pp. 52 - 68

Bullying is an international issue that is only just beginning to be researched in India and anecdotal evidence in Punjab, India, has suggested that most schools in the Punjab are in denial about bullying on campus. Our aim was to investigate the nature of bullying in this region using the PhotoStory Method. We sought to discover how young people in India perceived and experienced incidents of bullying. Three Punjabi schools were issued with ipads that students could use to email the researchers their illustrated stories about bullying. Using the Pic Collage App, 33 students aged 12-15 sent PhotoStories about experiences of victimization. Many stories described incidents of physical harassment, name calling and ‘Eve teasing’, which left students feeling sad, embarrassed, depressed and helpless. However, only four PhotoStories described incidents that met the definition of bullying i.e. that involved repetitive, hurtful behaviour perpetrated by a person or persons that could be considered more ‘powerful’ than the victim. Nonetheless, the stories, while not lengthy and overly descriptive, did indicate that physical acts of aggression between peers were common in and outside school. The findings are discussed in relation to definitional issues and the need to implement anti-violence programs in Indian schools.

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5) Young Children's cliques: a study on processes of peer acceptance and cliques aggregation

Antonella Brighi, Chiara Mazzanti, Annalisa Guarini and Alessandra Sansavini                   pp. 69 - 83

A considerable amount of research has examined the link between children’s peer acceptance, which refers to the degree of likability within the peer group, social functioning and emotional wellbeing, at a same age and in a long term perspective, pointing out to the contribution of peer acceptance for mental wellbeing. Our study proposes a sociometric methodology that, differently from many studies focused on individual classifications of social status, moves to the analysis of affiliative social networks within the class group. This study describes how individual factors such as socio-emotional competence, temperament, and linguistic skills are related to positive reciprocated nominations (=RNs) and examines the cliques generated by reciprocal nominations according to similarities (socio-emotional competence, temperament and linguistic skills) among cliques’ members. Eighty-four preschool children (M age = 62.5 months) were recruited. The Sociometric Interview to assess RNs and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test - Revised (PPVT-R; Dunn & Dunn, 1981) to assess receptive language were administered; the Social Competence and Behaviour Evaluation Short Form questionnaire (SCBE-30; LaFreniere & Dumas, 1996) and the Quit Temperament Scale (Axia, 2002) were filled in by the teachers. Results showed that children with higher RNs presented higher scores in social orientation, positive emotionality, motor activity, linguistic skills and social competence (trend), and exhibited lower anxiety-withdrawal. The analysis of cliques revealed that children preferred playmates with similar features: social competence, anger-aggression (trend), social orientation, positive emotionality, inhibition to novelty, attention, motor activity (trend) and linguistic skills. These findings provide insights about processes of peer affiliation, highlighting the role of socio-emotional functioning and linguistic skills.

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