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  1. Intervening with Groups of Teachers and Pupils Dr Victoria Hobley Educational Psychologist & Academic and Professional Tutor University of Nottingham

  2. Aims of Session • To consider why educational psychologists might work with groups in schools • To consider how educational psychologists might work with groups of pupils and teachers • To consider professional implications of group interventions

  3. What is a Group? “A collection of interacting people with some reciprocal influence over another” Schmuck & Schmuck (2001) A social system with a common goal structure

  4. Why are Groups Important? • “It is through others that we develop into ourselves” (Vygotsky 1981) • Through interacting with others, individuals learn values, attitudes and skills. They share information, learn other perspectives; understand what others may expect (Asch 1950s; Deutsch & Gerard 1955) • Individuals comfort, share and assist others; provide help and assistance; support belongingness and share skills for maintaining relationships • Performance and motivation increases Johnson & Johnson (1991; 2002)

  5. Schools are social systems made up of lots of groups • ‘Web’ analogy and the ‘ripple effect’ • Pupils and teachers interact with each other and with one another and display ‘emergent properties’

  6. Why Work with Groups of Pupils? • Efficient use of time • Children construct understanding together • Children often enjoy working together • Facilitates generalisation - ‘real world approach’ Rose 1973

  7. Why Work with Groups of Teachers? • Efficient use of time • Prevention • Teacher-insight • Reduces teacher isolation • Focus on the system

  8. Reference Groups • Individuals identify a group against which they evaluate their own norms and values • The group becomes a ‘frame of reference’ Nias (1985)

  9. 1. Interventions with Groups of Pupils • Educational psychologists can facilitate peer relationships • Possible foci: making and maintaining friendships; resolving conflicts; supporting one another in learning

  10. Examples of Interventions • Circles of Friends • Social Skills Groups

  11. Circles of Friends • Involves setting up a friendship circle for a child who is isolated • The pupil is discussed with the class and 6-8 volunteers are recruited to form a friendship circle (Snow & Forest 1987; Newton et al 1996)

  12. When a goose gets sick or falls out of formation, two other geese follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do they catch up with the group

  13. Circles of Support Exchange Participation Friendship Intimacy

  14. Focus children gained attention; felt more accepted and gained peer support to change (Newton et al 1996) • Other group members developed understanding and empathy; increased in self esteem and participated more as group members (Whitaker et al 1998) • These qualitative investigations suggest that circle of friends programmes are worthwhile

  15. In a small-scale, quasi-experimental study, fourteen groups in seven local authorities were investigated • Interventions ran for 6-10 weeks. Data was collected before and after the whole class meeting at the end of the sessions and after a term • Pupils were asked to rate their friendships, self-perceptions and self-worth • Impact was felt after the whole class session but less impact was shown over time Possible Factors Affecting the Outcomes of this Study: • 6 weeks - is it long enough? • Only 50% of subjects completed questionnaires at the end of the study • Other causal factors were operating (intelligence; personality; curriculum) • Was a quasi-experimental study the right tool for measuring the impact on relationships?

  16. Social Skills There is strong evidence to suggest that social skills have implications for social and emotional adjustment and also for school performance “(Social skills are) socially acceptable behaviours that enable a person to interact effectively with others and avoid socially unacceptable responses from others” Gresham & Elliott (1993) “Socially successful children appear to have at their command more potential techniques for negotiating difficulty (and every-day) interpersonal situations” Frosh (1993)

  17. Social skill interventions have been used extensively with those experiencing interpersonal or behaviour problems • Children are taught skills to promote better quality interaction Social skills – are they: • Genetic? • Learned? • Affected by environment or context?

  18. Typical Steps • Decide on the social skill to be learned • Describe the skill • Set up a practice situation • Give feed-back on performance • Practice frequently

  19. Deciding on the Skills • Argyle (1969) suggested we teach specific physical and non-verbal skills – body posture; physical proximity; eye contact; smiling • Lindsey & Miller (1991) suggest that skills for social relationships are far more complex • Aim to promote learning in 5 areas : Cooperation; Assertion; Responsibility; Empathy; Self-Control Elliott & Buse (1991)

  20. Socially isolated and withdrawn students learn more social skills and engage in them more frequently when they take part in co-operative rather than individual situations. This is especially the case when the group is rewarded Lew, Mesch, Johnson & Johnson (1986)

  21. Behavioural Approaches Aim: for pupils to learn very specific skills (such as eye contact - Beler, Gross & Drabman 1982) or more general skills (participating in peer activities - LaGreca & Santogrossi 1980) • Instruction • Modelling • Shaping • Behaviour Rehearsal • Feedback • Social Reinforcement • The teaching of specific skills was criticised by La Greca (1989) because of a lack of social validity • However, Cheam (1996) argued that despite teaching general skills effects may not generalise

  22. Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving Approaches • Aim: for pupils to become efficient problem solvers - to develop skills to cope with changing circumstances • Identify problem • Set goal • Generate alternative solutions • Consider possible consequences Spivack & Shure (1974) • Direct verbal instruction; role play; video-modelling; group discussion

  23. Examples of Scenarios • How would you respond to the following? • Being excluded… • Being called names… • Telling someone you think they are being unfair…

  24. Problem Identification and Goal setting: What happened? How did it start? Who felt what? Why is that a problem for me? What else would I like to have happen? • Generation of Alternatives: What else could I do? What different things could I try? • Consideration of Consequences: How might other people feel if I do that? Frederickson & Simms (1990)

  25. A meta-analysis of 43 studies showed that social skills training produced significant improvements in children’s levels of social interaction and in their cognitive problem solving abilities Erwin (1994)

  26. 8 boys attending mainstream school between the ages of 7 and 8 were referred to the EPS because of problems with peers • Groups met after school for 8 ninety minute sessions. • Evaluations - The Alternative Solutions test; British social adjustment guide and socio-metric ratings • Substantial impact observed but gains had not affected the social status of focus children Frederickson & Simms (1990)

  27. Multi-systemic Model • Behavioural approaches may rely on changing environmental consequences using reinforcement, shaping and modelling. These teaches a child how to exercise skill but not when to do this • Cognitive approaches may change an individual child’s perceptions and thoughts. This may include include coaching – drawing attention to feelings; checking understanding; problem solving • Whole school ethos and staff attitudes play an important part in the success of group programmes (Denham 2006) • Interventions should also consider and work with teachers and families as a means of assisting generalisation • Working at a systemic level on problem solving, modelling, coaching and role play can be most effective (Bierman & Furman 1984)

  28. 2. Interventions with Groups of Teachers • A) Consultation Groups • B) Circles of Adults • C) Soft Systems Methodology

  29. Consultation Groups • Collaborative problem solving: Members ask open questions of a problem holder to help restore their objectivity Typical Structure: • Welcome and Case selection • Problem ‘holder’ outlines issue • The group asks questions to elaborate the concern (20-30 minutes) • Ways forward discussed (20-30 minutes) • Process reviewed Hanko (1999)

  30. Teacher Culture • Culture – ‘the system of informal rules that spells out how people are to behave most of the time’ Deal & Kennedy (1982) • Systems are driven towards homeostasis as a means of maintaining internal stability Miller (2003)

  31. Case of a thirteen year old boy experiencing very difficult circumstances • At risk of exclusion • Questioning led to increased understanding. This helped keep the boy in school

  32. Peer support groups of between 6 and 12 teachers in Newcastle Stringer et al (1992) ‘Teachers valued such things as being able to discuss problems without interruptions, in an atmosphere of trust and concern, and where ‘status was left at the door’. They valued the sense of community the group developed, the reduction in feelings of isolation and the ‘support for staff under stress’ Stringer et al (1992), Taken from Miller (2003)

  33. Group consultation sessions run by EPs every half term in a Welsh County. Each session lasted 2.5 hours • Teachers were asked to rate sessions using a scale of 0-10 • After three sessions teachers felt more able to draw up an action plan (9.2); they benefited from the skills and experiences of their colleagues (9.2); they felt able to contribute (7.9) Evans (2005)

  34. The group consultation approach was also evaluated in a large Shire county in England • Four groups met between 3-6 times for 1.25 hours • 84% felt the groups had been a good use of their time: teachers felt less stressed and more confident; thought more deeply about children and had developed strategies for dealing with them Bozic & Carter (2002)

  35. Circles of Adults • An in-depth, problem-solving process for groups of teachers. Two facilitators, one is a graphic facilitator Typical Structure: • Case presentation - exploration of feelings • One member of the group listens from the child’s perspective and says how they are feeling • Exploration of relationships including transference and counter-transference • Examination of systemic and organisational factors • Summary of graphical information and hypothesis formation • Thought-shower - possible strategies • Selection of first steps Newton (1995)

  36. Soft-Systems Methodology • Messy ‘real world’ problems Checkland (1981) • A real problem (or ‘rich picture’) is compared with an ideal system • Actions are identified

  37. Further Considerations • There is an inverse relationship between group size and individual performance. Large groups show reductions in motivation; co-ordination and creativity (‘TheRingelmann Effect’ 1882- 1887) • Groups are thought to pass through dynamic phases of interaction (Tuckman 1965; 1977) • Members may show conflict as well as cohesion. Cohesion is enhanced by interpersonal attraction; attraction to the group’s goals; clarity over goals; positive feedback (Wheelan 1993)

  38. References Essential Reading • Frederickson, N. & Cline, T. (2002). Special Educational Needs, Inclusion and Diversity A Textbook. Buckingham: Open University Press. Chapters: 5; 8, pp213-227 • Miller, A. (2003). Teachers, Parents and Classroom Behaviour: A Psychosocial Approach. Berkshire: Open University Press. Chapters 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 Further Reading • Barrett, W. & Randall, L. (2004). Investigating the Circle of Friends Approach: Adaptations and Implications for Practice. Educational Psychology in Practice. 20 (4). Pp353-369 • Bozic, N. & Carter, A. (2002). Consultation Groups: Participants Views. Educational Psychology in Practice. 18 (3). Pp189-203. • Chalk, M. & Smith, H (1995). Teaching Professionals to Run Social Skills Groups for Children. Educational Psychology in Practice 11 (2). Pp30-35 • Denham, A. Hatfield, S. Smethurst, N. Tan, E. & Tribe, C. (2006). The Effect of Social Skills Interventions in the Primary School. Educational Psychology in Practice (22). 1 pp33-53 • Evans, S. (2005). The Development of a Group Consultation Approach to Service Delivery. Educational Psychology in Practice 21 (2). Pp131-147 • Farouk, S. (2004). Group Work in Schools: A Process Consultation Approach. Educational Psychology in Practice 20 (3). Pp207-221 • Frederickson, N. Warren, L. & Turner, J. (2005). ‘Circle of Friends’: An Exploration of Impact over Time. Educational Psychology in Practice. 21 (3) pp197-219 • Frederickson, N. & Simms, J. (1990). Teaching social skills to children: towards an integrated approach. Educational and Child Psychology, 7, pp5-17 • Watkins, C. & Wagner, P. (2000). Improving School Behaviour. London: Sage. Pp15-18 and pp33-35.