01 SES 04 A, Wellbeing, Mindset and Professional Development
Emotional education is an approach designed to help address modern educational problems such as student disengagement; often as a precursor to early school leaving and dropout in many European countries. Research that examines the educators’ role, as a key deliverer of emotional education programmes, is limited, despite their frontline position. This paper focuses on how educators in six partner countries; Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Turkey and the UK, conceptualise emotional education, how they define it, the value placed on it and who they attribute as responsible for providing it.
Emotional competencies have been shown to be important for success not only in school, but life in general (Klapp et al, 2017). Competencies such as the ability to regulate emotions, manage social relationships and engage in responsible decision-making all serve as protective factors in dealing with change as well as being predictors of academic success (Heckman and Kautz, 2012). However, Weare & Gray (2003) in their meta-analysis of programmes in schools which target the development of these competencies, found there is much debate and controversy on how to construe and define this area. They suggest that these issues arise from the range of language and psychological constructs utilised in discussion around educative programmes intending to develop emotional competencies.
With social and emotional programmes common in the US and recently in Europe too, their short (Durlak, et al., 2011) and long term effects (Reynolds et al., 2011) are being explored. An increasing number of teacher education programmes are incorporating an element of emotional education training into their courses (Waajid, Garner, & Owen, 2013). This reflects the developing recognition of the importance of supporting educators’ learning and responses to student needs through relational pedagogy (Reeves and Le Mare, 2017). This approach emphasises the importance of educators in nurturing social and emotional outcomes amongst learners, thus moving away from the ‘within child’ approach which perceives the responsibility for social and emotional competence as situated within the individual. Reeves and Le Mare (2017) identify two approaches to social and emotional education; the competence approach, which primarily seeks to improve particular competences and skills, and the relational approach, which focuses more on the contexts within which children develop. The identification of these two approaches offer a useful analytical framework because the success (or not) of a program depends on both the quality of the relational context and the skills and aptitudes which develop as a result (Hatzichristou & Lianos, 2016).
As key deliverers of interventions, educators, and their conceptualisations of emotional education, are the focus of this paper because of the important role they play in the relational context. This paper reports on the analysis of a dataset collected during an Erasmus funded emotional education project entitled Eumoschool involving school educators from six partner countries. The project revealed some challenges in rolling out an intervention programme beyond its place of origin with a key theme around the importance of an adaptable approach to emotional education emerging. The challenges highlighted the need to first appraise education professionals’ conceptualisations of emotional education, the extent to which they valued emotional education and where they attributed responsibility for emotional education, suggesting that where responsibility for emotional education is attributed is likely to impact on the success of implementation.
This paper frames the importance of emotions in an educational context, followed by the analysis and findings that feed into the discussion of how applying ‘global’ assumptions of the conceptualisation of emotional education in different contexts can affect the success of interventions. The paper recommends a more systemic and embedded approach to emotional education that takes account of educators’ conceptualisations, values and attribution of emotional education.
Data were collected as part of an Erasmus funded project on emotional education as a way to prevent early school leaving. The six project teams from the partner countries developed a questionnaire, part of which had the purpose of understanding educators’ conceptualisations of emotional education. Using a convenience sampling strategy, the Eumochool teams collected circa 100 responses from each of the six countries (n= 609 in total). The sample consisted of educators in various roles including teachers, school leaders, teaching assistants and educational psychologists. We acknowledge that the data represents six local networks embedded in their social, economic and policy contexts and, so the representability of the sample to the corresponding educator populations is unknown. The analysis of the survey data examined the respondents’ conceptualisations and their similarities and differences across the samples according to the research questions. In parallel, the project teams in each country conducted semi-structured interviews in the local languages, each with ten educators (n=60 in total). The interview data were analysed using a framework provided by the UK partners and based on the research questions. Each local team then translated the analysed data into English for the qualitative meta-analysis by the UK partners. There are implications with regards to meanings lost through translation of data and the variability of the analysis by each local team which risk the potential of misrepresentations, inherent in translation and analysis (Larkin et al, 2007). It is partly for this reason a meta-analysis of the qualitative data, originally analysed by the partner country teams, was conducted. Particular attention was paid to areas of ambiguity and clarifications were sought when necessary. The frequency of themes and quotes extracted by in-country teams, relevant to the research questions were used in the meta-analysis. The number of references and/or number of interviewees that spoke of a particular theme are used interchangeably to denote the strength of emphasis on particular themes. The qualitative and quantitative analyses were conducted by different members of the research team to capture preliminary findings and insights. The whole team then examined these findings together as a triangulation process, which informed a subsequent phase of analysis on both qualitative and quantitative date sets. In the following sections, we report on the findings from the qualitative and quantitative analysis and bring the convergent (Plano Clark & Creswell, 2008) insights together in the discussion that follows.
Findings showed that there was general consensus in how educators from the samples in the six countries defined emotional education. Four main components emerged from the survey data and concurred with themes from the qualitative data. These were Relatedness, Mindful Awareness, Emotional Agency and Empathic Understanding. The strength of emphases on each of these components varied across all countries and appeared related to the extent to which educators felt equipped to provide emotional education. There were differences between countries with regards to the attribution of responsibility for emotional education which connected to the local context, culture, policy and pupil intake of the networks of the participant samples in each of the countries. The findings pointed towards the importance of culture and context, and illustrated how the educator is an individual embedded within a cultural and societal system, just as the individual learner. This was echoed in the finding on the value for emotional education where there was greater variability between countries. This also appeared to be due to the sociocultural context which determined the extent to which emotional education was seen to contribute to improved longer term outcomes. The priority of these outcomes was again, connected to the local context. For example in Romania, the importance of self-awareness and empathy was linked to diversity, the tolerance of others and reduced prejudice. The findings illustrated how it is important to engage educators through a recognition of the system/s within which they are situated and their key drivers. These shaped educators’ values and beliefs in terms of how they engaged with and delivered interventions on emotional education. This paper therefore concludes that cross-national programmes that adopt a context specific system level approach, recognising differing interpretations and attributions of emotional education are likely to be more effective. These findings have implications for transnational policymaking and transnational intervention programmes.
Plano Clark, V. L. and Creswell, J. W. (2008) The mixed methods reader. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications. Durlak, J. A., Domitrovich, C. E., Weissberg, R. P. and Gullotta, T. P. (eds) (2017) Handbook of social and emotional learning : research and practice. Paperback edn. New York: Guilford Press. Hatzichristou, C. and Lianos, P.G. (2016) Social and Emotional Learning in the Greek Educational system: An Ithaca journey. The International Journal of Emotional Education, 8:2, 105-127 Heckman, J. J. and Kautz, T. (2012) “Hard Evidence on Soft Skills,” Labour Economics, 19(4), pp. 451-464. doi: 10.1016/j.labeco.2012.05.014. Klapp, A., Belfield, C., Bowden, B., Leving, H., Shand, R. and Sabine, Z. (2017) “A benefit-cost analysis of a long-term intervention on Social and Emotional Learning in compulsory school”. The International Journal of Emotional Education, 9:1, 3-19 Larkin, P.J., Dierckx de Casterle, B. and Schotsmans, P.(2007) “Mulitlingual Translation Issues in Qualitative Research: Relfections on a Metaphorical Process”. Qualitative Health Research. 17:468 Reeves, J. & Le Mare, L. (2017) Supporting Teachers in Relational Pedagogy and Social Emotional Education: A Qualitative Exploration. International Journal of Emotional Education, 9:1, 85-98 Reynolds, A., Temple, J, A., Ou, S., Arteaga, I.A. and White, B.A.B. (2011) “School-Based Early Childhood Education and Age-28 Well-Being: Effects by Timing, Dosage, and Subgroups”. Science, 333:6040 pp.360-364 Waajid, B., Garner, P. W., & Owen, J. (2013). Infusing social emotional learning into the teacher education curriculum. International Journal of Emotional Education, 5, 31-48. Weare, K & Gray, G (2003) What works in developing children’s emotional and social competence and wellbeing? DfES Research Report No 456
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