University of Malta
 

Volume 8, Issue 1, April 2016
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Special issue: Social and Emotional Learning in Different Contexts

Guest Editors: Kathy Evans, Celeste Simões & Paula Lebra


Editorial [PDF]


1) From Positive Youth Development to Youth’s Engagement: The Dream Teens 

Margarida Gaspar de Matos and Celeste Simões             pp. 4 - 18

In addition to the empirical validation of ‘health and happiness’ determinants, theoretical models suggesting where to ground actions are necessary. In the beginning of the twentieth century, intervention models focused on evaluation and empirical validation were only concerned about overt behaviours (verbal and non-verbal) and covert behaviours (cognitions and emotions). Later on in the middle of the century, there was a shift from treating the problems to a positive approach, focused on promoting assets and individual strengths. Thus, the role of social competences, self-regulation and resilience became salient. Researchers also highlighted the importance of social cohesion and social support, as active health and wellbeing facilitators. More recently, in the twenty-first century, the population’s engagement (positive engagement) has become crucial. This paper presents the evolution of this theoretical and scientific path, using Portugal as a case study, where early interventions focused on the positive aspects of both covert and overt behaviours, while more recent interventions included explicitly the perspective of youth engagement and participation, as is the case of the Dream Teens Project. It is expected that the political and professional understanding of this trajectory will allow professionals to provide better health and educational services, improving young people’s engagement, quality of life, health and wellbeing. 

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2) Effects of Clown Doctors on child and caregiver anxiety at the entrance to the surgery care unit and separation from caregivers

Patrícia Arriaga and Catarina Pacheco           pp. 19 - 34

This study investigated the effects of hospital Clown Doctors intervention on child and caregiver preoperative anxiety at the entrance to the surgery care unit and separation from caregivers. A total of 88 children (aged 4-12 years) were assigned to one of the following two groups: Clown Doctors intervention or control group (standard care). Independent observational records using the modified Yale Preoperative Anxiety Scale instrument assessed children’s anxiety, while the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory measured caregiver’s state anxiety. In addition, caregivers assessed the children’s functional health problems by completing the Functional Status Questionnaire. Although no effects of Clown Doctors were found on children’s anxiety, results showed that both low functional health problems and Clown Doctors intervention were significant predictors of lower caregiver anxiety. Caregivers also reported being very satisfied with their intervention. Overall, this study demonstrated the positive role of Clown Doctors for caregivers at a specific pediatric hospital setting. 

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3) Perceived Emotional Intelligence as a predictor of Depressive Symptoms after a one year follow-up during Adolescence

Diego Gomez-Baya, Ramon Mendoza and Susana Paino                pp. 35 - 47

Research to date has identified various risk factors in the emergence of depressive disorders in adolescence. There are very few studies, however, which have analyzed the role of perceived emotional intelligence in depressive symptoms longitudinally during adolescence. This work aimed to analyze longitudinal relationships between perceived emotional intelligence and depressive symptoms in adolescence, developing an explanatory model of depression following a one-year follow-up. A longitudinal study was carried out with two waves separated by one year, with a sample of 714 Spanish adolescents. The instruments consisted of self-report measures of depressive symptoms and perceived emotional intelligence. Results underlined gender differences in depressive symptoms and emotional intelligence, and indicated that greater emotional intelligence was associated with a lower presence of depressive symptoms after a one-year follow-up. A multiple partial mediation model was developed to explain longitudinally depressive symptoms based on perceived emotional intelligence skills and depressive symptoms. These contributions underscore the need to design programs to prevent depression in adolescence through the promotion of emotional intelligence. 

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4) Preschoolers’ free play - connections with emotional and social functioning     

Guida Veiga, Carlos Neto and Carolien Rieffe                                                 pp. 48 - 62

Play has an important role in various aspects of children’s development. However, time for free play has declined substantially over the last decades. To date, few studies have focused on the relationship between opportunities for free play and children’s social functioning. The aims of this study are to examine whether children´s free play is related to their social functioning and whether this relationship is mediated by children´s emotional functioning. Seventy-eight children (age, 55- 77 months) were tested on their theory of mind and emotion understanding. Parents reported on their children’s time for free play, empathic abilities, social competence and externalizing behaviors. The main findings showed that free play and children’s theory of mind are negatively related to externalizing behaviors. Empathy was strongly related to children’s social competence, but free play and social competence were not associated. Less time for free play is related to more disruptive behaviors in preschool children, however certain emotional functioning skills influence these behaviors independently of the time children have for free play. These outcomes suggest that free play might help to prevent the development of disruptive behaviors, but future studies should further examine the causality of this relationship. 

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5) Emotional Capital Development, Positive Psychology and Mindful Teaching: Which Links?     

Bénédicte Gendron, Eleni-Sofia Kouremenou and Carmen Rusu                pp. 63-74

The start of university life requires a period of adaptation, which can sometimes have an impact on the mental health of students. The latest results from the Observatoire National de la Vie Etudiante (OVE, 2013) show that more that 40% of university students report symptoms of psychological fragility (sleep problems, fatigue, depression, stress or loneliness), which can impact their level of wellbeing and performance. Beyond Savoirs [knowledge], Savoir Faire [knowing what to do], the role of Savoir Être [knowing how to be] referring to a set of emotional competencies, is crucial in sustaining human capital in a broad sense, personal development and health (Gendron 2004). During the Initiatives d'Excellence en Formations Innovantes (IDEFI) Programme, [Initiatives of Excellence in Innovative Training] 132 first year university students of education underwent an intervention (a minimum of six workshops of four hours) aimed at developing their emotional capital. Using two approaches PIA2 (European Management and Project Management Methodology) and ACT Training derived from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) the objective was to develop trainees’ social and personal emotional competencies such as self-esteem, self-knowledge, empathy and conflict management. Using an interdisciplinary approach drawing on educational theory, theory of human resources and positive psychology, the results show that emotional capital, developed using positive psychology tools, can improve wellbeing and contribute to a holistic personal development. 

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6) Teachers’ emotional intelligence: The impact of training      

Niva Dolev and Shosh Leshem                pp. 75-94

A growing number of studies have suggested that teachers' personal competencies, and more specifically Emotional Intelligence (EI), are particularly important for teacher effectiveness. Recently, there has also been a growing recognition of the importance of social-emotional competencies to students' learning and academic achievement. However, there has been a neglect of emotions in the field of teaching, and little is known about the impact of training aimed at developing teachers' EI on their EI levels and their practice. The current study investigates the impact of a teacher- centered EI training on teachers' EI in Israel. The study followed a twoyear EI training in one school, employing group workshops and personal coaching. The study used a mixed methodology, making use of pre-post EQ-i assessment and semi-structured interviews. The findings illustrate that the training programme was perceived by the participants to have enhanced their EI competencies, as defined by the Bar-On model. Most participants integrated these competencies into their personal, professional and group identities and modified their EI-related behaviours.

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7) Curiosity and Its Role in Cross-Cultural Knowledge Creation      

Natalie S. Mikhaylov                pp. 95-108

This paper explores the role of curiosity in promoting cross-cultural knowledge creation and competence development. It is based on a study with four international higher educational institutions, all of which offer management and business education for local and international students. The reality of multicultural and intercultural relationships is researched using constructivist grounded theory method, with data collected through in-depth interviews, long-term observation and participation, and discussion of the social reality as it was experienced by the participants. The study applies the concepts of cultural knowledge development, cross-cultural competence and cultural distance. Based on the comparative analysis, curiosity emerged as a personal condition conducive to the cultural knowledge development process. The paper presents a crosscultural competence development process model, which takes into account the cultural curiosity of the learners. The paper also provides tentative recommendations for the steps that knowledge-creating multicultural organizations can take to develop cross-cultural exchange, cultural knowledge creation and cross-cultural competence development. 

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8) How can we prevent and reduce bullying amongst university students      

Carrie Anne Myers and Helen Cowie              pp. 109-119

While it has long been recognized that bullying occurs at school and in the workplace, recent research confirms that bullying also takes place among university students, including undergraduates, post-graduates and doctoral research students. In the UK, the National Union of Students (NUS) alerted staff and students to the issue in a series of reports but it is not confined to the UK. Authors in the book edited by Cowie and Myers (2016a, 2016b) present cross-national findings on the theme of bullying among university students (Pörhöla et al., 2016). In this article we discuss the urgent need for interventions to prevent and reduce bullying in this context. We also indicate the areas where little or no intervention is taking place, notably in the field of university policy. 

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9) Short Research Report: Exploring resilience development in a Taiwanese preschooler’s narrative: An emerging theoretical model    

Kuan-Ling Olivia Lin                pp. 120-123 

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