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The main objective is to design a self-esteem programme consisting of experiential learning/learning-by-doing, whilst using technological tools to encourage pupils' participation. Consequently I will implement the programme by carrying out a self-esteem measure before and after the programme and subsequently assessing its effectiveness on children. Â Pupils would also provide qualitative feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the programme. Consequently, the adapted product would then be produced on a CD for educators to use.Â My aim is toÂ show that such an approach is effective for pupils with SEBD.Â
First-hand experience in Circle Time discussions showed, that teachers and peers frequently replace parental influence. The teacher becomes the 'significant other', who through expertise, authority and support, improves the student's self-concept through positive, neutral and negative reinforcement. The school constantly reminds children of their multiple abilities and also of their limitations (Kenway and Willis, 1990). Thus, the school stands a better chance of meliorating the holistic development of the pupils, through its influence and impact on the pupils. For this reason, interventions to enhance self-esteem will take place in a school context. This could be made difficult since each child is unique and the 'baggage' that each individual brings from home would still affect his behaviour. Hence, for a study on a longer span of time, attempting to hold individual parents' meetings might help to produce more positive results.
Selections into different academic levels found in Malta, bring doubt and anxieties in students, especially SEBD students, as these have to cope with stressful experiences such as higher levels of work and developing new friendships. This, together with various biological, cognitive and social changes is bound to influence children's level of self-esteem (Branden, 1995). Hence, such an area is of great importance and should be addressed even at such a young age.
The researcher believes that developing a research question is one of the initial steps and a valuable phase in order to avoid confusion during the early stages of research.
After identifying the research area and the main objectives, various specific questions were listed. Subsequently the following general research question was formulated, thus providing the foundations and guide for the researcher's thinking:
Would the implementation of a self-esteem programme through a multi-sensory, experiential approach be effective for students with SEBD?
Obtaining the research question was empirical so that the researcher would be able to identify literature related to the topic under study. The next step would be to assess ways and means as to how such a research question could be tackled so as to meet the objectives of the research (Punch, 2005). Furthermore, Punch (2005) rightly claims that the research question will increase organisation and provide coherence and direction; it sets boundaries and hence maintains focus on the topic; provides a framework to compile the study and ultimately directs the researcher towards the data which will be required.
Reasons for choosing the topic
It was the first Emotional Literacy Session within the Nurture Group (NG) which initially triggered the thought. Obviously the group was given some time to introduce themselves, say what they like about themselves and what they think other people like about them. There was a ten-year-old who gave this description:
"I don't have good qualities. I don't like anything about myself and I can't imagine what my friends might like about me." (2011)
Her facial expressions clearly showed that she truly believed what she said. This experience coupled with the knowledge obtained from assessing numerous Boxall Profiles, was the spark to probe into this issue of self-esteem and attempt at creating a self-esteem programme for pupils with SEBD.
Studies show that children with high self-esteem, or moreover, children with a balanced personality who can cope with the challenges in life, are more confident and ambitious (Rosenberg, 1965). For instance, within the NG, pupils whose Boxall Profile show a considerable high self-esteem are ambitious. Such pupils talk about what they want to become when they grow up. Whilst others whose Boxall profile marked low self-esteem are satisfied with low expectations and aim at easily obtainable jobs. A high self-esteem with a balanced personality is considered as a healthy attitude towards oneself. For instance Pope, McHale & Craighead (1988) claimed that pupils with low self-esteem possess a poor self-concept and a negative self-image. This hinders their ability to form relationships, to feel successful, to be assertive, to handle fear and other challenging emotions. (Rosenberg, 1965). Therefore dealing with such an issue would surely be valuable for pupils with SEBD. Firsthand experience within a NG has led to encountering a girl who, when praised for her amazing artistic talents, negates this praise; when it is very obvious that her talent stands out from the rest. Amongst other factors it is evident, that it's a result of her low self-esteem. She is never satisfied with her outcomes. Being self-confident is important. It does not mean that one should boast around, but simply feels good about one's strong points; whilst trying to improve in further areas and be forgiving when occasionally one falls short of expectations (Branden, 1995).
One's concept of self develops through interaction (Hamachek, 1988) and through the appraisal of significant others (Sullivan, 1953). Hence, interaction during the self-esteem programme will be healthy for the children. The self-concept develops throughout one's life (Mruk, 2006) and hence it is alarming on how much a pupil could disregard his/her self-worth at such a young age.
Furthermore, as Johnson and Johnson (2005) claim, some influences on one's behaviour are much more effective than the approval and support of acquaintances. Group influences, such as this programme, helps children to learn through experiential learning and thus improve group skills and knowledge about the self.
A brief review of background literature
Maintaining a healthy self-image has consistently been the concern of those who work with children, as the perception of one's self is the result of these feelings. According to Pope, et al (1988) a healthy self-esteem in childhood has been viewed as really valuable, since it serves as the foundation for the child's perceptions of life. Positive self-appraisal leads to social-emotional competence, a force that aids the child to avoid future serious problems. Boxall Profiles show that when SEBD pupils have negative attitudes towards others, very often the child demonstrates low self-esteem.
Consequently, having a positive attitude towards peers and obtaining positive feedback from them when participating within a group has positive outcomes. Parrott and Hewitt (1977) recommended that participation in activities which boost sociability and group interaction increases self-esteem. As people interact, they familiarise themselves with others and subsequently with themselves. As positive experiences become integrated with self-image, esteem is improved. This improved self-esteem might be due to the intimacy achieved with peers when participating in group activities (Branden, 1995), thus being a fundamental part of the self-esteem programme. This could lead to positive outcomes like the capability of providing useful contributions to the group, increase in self-worth, confidence and improved self-image.
From experience the author, unlike Gergen (1971) and Rosenberg (1965), believes that self-esteem doesn't become stable at the age of ten because from NG sessions, it's clear how certain pupils are still unaware of their positive intrinsic qualities. Unfortunately it is far easier for them to mention negative traits. When negative comments are made, as a NG teacher one is apt to provide opportunities of constructive ways of behaving and thinking so that pupils would help each other increase interpersonal competence and ultimately self-esteem. Lieberman, Lakin and Whitaker (1968), state that groups could provide multiple sources of feedback because one is able to interact, examine one's behaviour and get multiple feedback (Johnson and Johnson, 2009).
4.2 Nurture groups
Strong evidence shows that when students undergo a programme within a NG, this could be highly effective in supporting the emotional and social development of pupils with SEBD. Furthermore, research shows that they will become more positively engaged with learning (Cefai & Cooper, 2010). Hence, this is a justification for the researcher to opt to perform research within a NG. Although not all interventions work equally well for all pupils; on the whole research has shown that properly planned interventions produce positive results for pupils (Bishop, 2008). From experience the researcher claims that all pupils show some level of improvement after attending for a programme within the NG.
As claimed by Bishop (2008), a NG within a primary school is very effective and provides hope in responding positively towards certain challenges. Hence, the researcher claims that through the programmes performed by the NG staff, the whole school community will greatly benefit.
"The fuel for this evolution is hard evidence on the effects that nurture groups have on the pupils who attend them." (Cefia & Cooper, 2010, p45)
4.3 Effectiveness of teaching self-esteem through multisensory experiential methods
Pupils with SEBD tend to have a relatively low attention-span and hence various teaching strategies need to be adopted to maximise their attention (Bishop, 2008). They require skills to focus better on tasks and activities which require concentration. Hence, the researcher greatly believes that, in order to provide a programme aimed at enhancing self-esteem of pupils with SEBD, multisensory experiential methods need to be employed. Firsthand experience has shown that most pupils who attend the NG are visual learners and hence they need to be involved throughout sessions and presented with visual tasks and activities to sustain attention. Therefore, multisensory teaching needs to be employed (Davis & Florian, 2003) so as to motivate and encourage them to engage in the tasks and activities presented.
Research design, methodology and approach
Human behaviour is a notion which needs serious reflection and evidence for it to be affirmed (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2000). Therefore, triangulation could be a good choice for studying behaviour from more than one point of view with the use of qualitative and quantitative data (Robson, 2011). Hence, interactionist ethnography will also be taken into account, since it emphasises on researching experience, perspectives and actions of those involved, including mainstream teachers' feedback (Hammerlsey, 1999). The aim being that of making a difference; trying to enhance the self-esteem of pupils with SEBD in order to make classroom life smoother and to create a peaceful social and emotional wellbeing.
Chosen Paradigms for Research Design
During the research design, a lot of thought was put into the choice of paradigms to be adopted to reach the objectives of this research. Opting for the right research methods is a very fundamental decision, since they will determine the final outcomes (Anderson and Burns, 1989).
Why Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Modes of inquiry which involve pupils' intervention and their feedback, teachers' and senior management team's feedback on the holistic improvement of the children concerned are planned to be employed. Hence, both qualitative and quantitative techniques are needed, hence undertaking a mixed methods research strategy. The self-designed figure below represents the basic reasons why a qualitative mode of inquiry has been adopted.
Reasons for choosing and conducting a qualitative research
Figure 1: Reasons for choosing and conducting qualitative research
Source: Adapted from Creswell (1998)
Furthermore, quantitative data is planned to be used in this research since this type of measure;
"â€¦enables standardized, objective comparisons to be made, and the measurements of quantitative research permit overall descriptions of situations or phenomena in a systematic comparable way." (Punch, 2005, p238)
Due to the effectiveness of its different techniques, quantitative research is also thought to be employed (Hammersley, 1999). The self-designed figure below represents strengths for which quantitative research is planned to be used.
Reasons for choosing and conducting a quantitative research
Figure 2: Reasons for choosing and conducting quantitative research
Source: Adapted from Matveev (2007)
It is important to note, that qualitative data could be entirely unstructured whilst being collected (Punch, 2005). This could be experienced whilst doing the reflective diary which wouldn't possess predetermined codes or categories. However, structure will emerge when it comes to analyzing such data (Punch, 2005). This will not be the case when it comes to performing structured interviews, where set questions will be asked to the interviewee.
In this research, qualitative and quantitative approaches will be combined by blending the collected data during the analysis phase to contribute towards the findings of the study. There are various methods of combining data however, the approach which will be opted for is triangulation (Punch, 2005 & Seale, 1999). Consequently, the findings obtained from one research method could be checked against those obtained from another type of method, whilst strengthening the findings' validity (Punch, 2005). This will provide the complete picture desired by the researcher (Seale, 1999).
5.2 Research design
The research will take place within the researcher's own work setting, within a primary state-school in the south of Malta, with children from different family backgrounds. Pupils are between 8-10 years old and attend the NG regularly. For this research, pupils with SEBD will undergo a self-esteem multi-sensory programme, designed on purpose by the researcher. To obtain findings, this research will be divided into two main parts. Primarily the researcher would assess the effectiveness of the multi-sensory self-esteem programme on children with SEBD and secondly obtain feedback on the programme. How such findings would be obtained is explained under section 6. Consequently, in order for the researcher to obtain the necessary findings, investigation of the quality of evidence obtained has to be centered on some basic concepts, including validity and reliability (Anderson and Burns, 1989).
5.3 Validity and Reliability
For research to be effective, validity is crucial. It is a necessity for both quantitative and qualitative research (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 1996). Research has shown that validity could take various forms. For instance, as Cohen et al (2000) imply;
"â€¦in qualitative data validity might be addressed through the honesty, depth, richness and scope of the data achieved, the participants approached, the extent of triangulation and the disinterestedness or objectivity of the researcher. In quantitative data validity might be improved through careful sampling, appropriate instrumentation and appropriate statistical treatments of the data." (p105)
Reliability is another fundamental factor and its sense differs in quantitative and qualitative research. In fact as Cohen et al (2000) state, in quantitative research reliability means;
"consistency and replicability over time, over instruments and over groups of respondentsâ€¦it must demonstrate that if it were to be carried out on a similar group of respondents in a similar context, then similar results would be found." (p117)
Consequently, for reliability in quantitative research, stability, internal consistency and equivalence (Cohen et al, 2000) have to be kept in mind. On the other hand, when it comes to maintaining reliability in qualitative research, one does not need to struggle for replicability. This is because two different researchers who study the same setting might obtain totally different findings; however both could be reliable (Cohen et al, 2000). Nonetheless, the researcher believes that when dealing with qualitative research, reliability should include;
"Fidelity to real life, context- and situation-specificity, authenticity, comprehensiveness, detail, honesty, depth of response and meaningfulness to the respondents"
(Cohen et al, 2000, p120).
Research methods or instruments
6.1 Choice of Research Methods
People are normally the primary interest in social sciences (Black, 1999). Consequently, specific paradigms were adopted to actually have people as the backbone of this study. The methods of inquiry in the following diagram were planned as a one whole complementary process. The quantitative data which will be collected will be further substantiated when combined and cross-examined with the other qualitative data.
Figure 3: Methods for data collection
The researcher will implement a self-esteem measure (Coopersmith's Self-Esteem Inventory) at the beginning of the scholastic year with approximately 8-10 pupils, so as to measure their present self-esteem levels. Subsequently, a set of sessions on the theme will be planned and implemented over a period of eight weeks. Each session would take about one hour and will take place once a week. After the first term, the self-esteem measure will be implemented again, so one would be able to monitor the effectiveness of the programme on SEBD pupils. To further assess this, interviews will be implemented. Moreover, so as to possess feedback specifically on the programme a reflective diary would be kept. Additionally questionnaires will be distributed to pupils to evaluate which areas within the programme were clearly conveyed and which need modification. A summary of the above is presented in the diagram below:
Effectiveness of a multi-sensory self-esteem programme on children
Feedback on programme
Pre & post Self-esteem measure: Coopersmith's Self-esteem inventory
Teacher, LSA, Assistant Head & Head of School Interviews
Assessing which parts of programme were most & least useful:
Research / Reflective Diary - after every session
Student Questionnaires in relation to programme
Figure 4: Plan of Research Methods
The effectiveness of a multi-sensory self-esteem programme on children
Coopersmith Self-Esteem Measure
The researcher was in a dilemma whether to make use of the Coopersmith Self-esteem Inventory (SEI) or the Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale, since both scales have been widely used by researchers and are both suitable for the age-group of children with whom the research will be conducted. However, the Coopersmith SEI was opted for, primarily due to the fact that it was found to be available to the researcher and aimed for individuals aged 8-15.
When choosing a self-esteem measure one should consider the children's cognitive/developmental limitations. Hence, Coopersmith's SEI will be translated into Maltese to make it easier for the children to comprehend. The scale consists of 58 items, with five subscales being; general self, school-academic life, social-peers, home-parents and a lie scale so as to detect socially-desirable responding.
Furthermore, the COPMI (2012) claims that convergent validity has been proven when relatively compared to other self-esteem measures and its internal consistency ratings have established a satisfactory to excellent reliability level.
The long version (Form A) of the Coopersmith's SEI was opted for in order to get a detailed perspective of all the sub-groups, whilst having high reliability and validity levels (Mangena, 2003). Research has derived positive and negative aspects on both Form A and B (the shorter version); hence whichever is chosen, one should keep in mind these aspects when interpreting findings obtained from the Coopersmith SEI (Frances, 1998; Chapman & Mullis, in Mangena, 2003).
Due to various learning difficulties in children, the researcher intends to read the 58 items herself. Consequently, to help them remain focused they will administer the SEI by clicking on the appropriate box on the interactive whiteboard. It is important to keep in mind that when required, word meanings should be given with caution so as not to influence the responses of the pupils. Furthermore, SEI shouldn't be timed but the physical conditions should be constant for all without affecting the responses in a positive or negative manner (Mangena, 2003).
Fully Structured Interviews
From past experience the researcher believes that interviews could provide very interesting outcomes and they tend to be a flexible and adaptable way of obtaining information. Whilst supporting Robson (2011), one claims that face-to-face interviews provide the possibility to modify certain issues under research and follow-up on interesting issues. Non-verbal cues could also provide further knowledge. Hence, an interview could provide very rich and detailed material (Bell, 2005).
The interview session could take up a lot of time and so do transcripts when recorded. Recording was considered because, as Bell (2005) implies, it primarily allows one to check the wording if quoting the interview and secondly it will help sustain eye-contact with the interviewee. Furthermore, one has to make sure that an interview lasts between 30mins to one hour. Robson (2011) claims that it wouldn't be very valuable if it would be less and being over one hour one might be risking a lower level of participants and consequently lack of cooperation from their end. It is important to possess skills of control and closure. Something which he also suggests is to avoid; "long questions, double-barred questions, questions involving jargon, leasing questions and biased questions" (p282).
Structured interviews with teachers were chosen to get a more detailed response than might be obtained from a questionnaire (Middlewood, Coleman and Lumby, 1999); even though this was also opted for in this research as could be seen below. Furthermore, the researcher believes that the way the interviewee answers, such as his/her facial expression, any hesitation and tone of voice could deliver detail that written responses couldn't give (Bell, 2005).
Feedback on the self-esteem programme
As Bell (2005) claims, research diaries are "records or logs of professional activities" (p173). Hence, for this research, a reflective diary will be compiled by performing a critical anlaysis weekly after every session. Hence, the researcher would keep a record of the positive areas of the programme and take note of areas which could be improved. Consequently, together with the feedback from questionnaires, as noted below, the multi-sensory self-esteem programme could be modified and improved. However, to compile this diary points will also be jotted down on the spot, so as to keep a record of any fundamental comments or occurrences (Bell, 2005).
Although diary-keeping could be quite fatiguing and time-consuming (Bell, 2005 & Wallace, 1999), in this study it will support the researcher in making visible any unseen variables (Wallace, 1998) which could easily lower the quality of the self-esteem programme if modification is not made. To further enhance the quality of the self-esteem programme, questionnaires will also be distributed.
Having the above qualitative method, is still not enough to fulfill the researcher's ambition in formulating an effective multi-sensory self-esteem enhancement programme. Hence, questionnaires were chosen since investigating students' understanding, beliefs and opinions is of value simply because it is them towards which such a programme is targeted (Black, 1999). Moreover, it will be made a point that respondents of questionnaires are given time and space to consider their answers in privacy and at their leisure (Middlewood et al, 1999). The researcher highly believes in the contribution that questionnaires could make towards findings. As claimed by Robson (2011),
"Questionnaires and interviews are very widely used social research methods of collecting data from and about people." (p235)
The researcher will write questions that are pupil friendly. However, for answers to be reliable, one has to make sure that the respondent is willing to take part in the study. Consequently, although questionnaires require a lot of thinking and planning to formulate, once properly done, they will eventually elicit very accurate information (Robson, 2011).
Furthermore, from past research experience, the author believes that developmental/language limitations could lead to pupils finding difficulty to comprehend statements found within the questionnaire. In fact, Davis-Kean & Sandler (2001) found that children might encounter difficulty answering questions associated to the self either due to developmental (their sense of self) or either due to language ability confinements. It is important to keep both in mind, especially during the formulation of questions.
Data Analysis is the phase in which one has to start categorizing the information obtained from research. One has to try and find certain patterns in findings; find similarities and differences between what the individuals being studied would have said. Hence, one would be able to provide a concrete discussion.
The Coopersmith's SEI has its own scoring system, by obtaining the total of all the items sorted under the four different sub-scales; besides the Lie Scale. It is important to note that if the Lie Scale is high (5-8) this means that the child has presented a better picture than how the reality actually is. Afterwards the SEI Profile is filled in and scores plotted on graphs (Chiu, 1985), possibly by using Microsoft Excel software. This will provide a clear picture of the child's self-esteem levels.
When coming to interview analysis, data obtained from transcripts could be sorted by using a numbering system and placed into tables under different headings/categories. Hence, the loads of data obtained could be placed into less space; being more concise, organized and comprehending findings better (Cohen et al, 2000). However, tables would just be the introduction to further debatable issues and discussion.
Furthermore, when writing diaries to keep record of various comments and reactions during and after the sessions, one might end of with a lot of qualitative information which in some way or another needs to be analysed. As Bailey (1992, in Wallace, 1999) claims;
"â€¦simply writing diary entries does not yield the maximum potential benefit of the processâ€¦the diarist should reread the journal entries and try to find the patterns therein." (p63)
Subsequently the researcher will formulate tables to highlight effective areas and also others which should be improved in the programme.
Finally, when it comes to analysing pupils' questionnaires, the IBM SPSS Statistics 20 software will be used. The researcher attended a course so as to facilitate the use of this data analysis software. It is considered to be the world's leading statistical software and can greatly assist the researcher in analysing data efficiently. When using this software, the researcher would be able to input data, create variables and present such data graphically (IBM, 2011). Reliability analysis could also be made using this software so as to validate the results derived from the questionnaire (Norusis, 2008).
Below one could find a summary of the above.
SEI Score Sheet & Profile Sheet ïƒ Plotting of Graphs: Microsoft Excel
Use of tables to highlight main points
Use of SPSS statistics software
Tables showing areas which were effective & those to improve
Of Children's Behaviour pre & post programme
Of the quality of programme
Perform the necessary changes in programme based upon the findings
Final CD with programme
(8 folders, one for every session: consisting of lesson plans, resources & on-screen activities)
Figure 5: Data Analysis
Anticipated ethical and practical issues
Since the researcher will be implementing research within her own school and within her own NG, permission is required from the College Principal together with that of the head of school to implement the self-esteem programme which I will be formulating and conducting myself. Hence, coming September, the researcher will request a written informed consent from both, showing that research upon the children in our school and interviews with some of the teachers of the pupils undergoing the programme is permissible (Cohen et al, 2000). At present, the researcher is still awaiting a reply to whether or not further consent from the main Education Department in Malta would be required to perform research within one's own NG.
Furthermore, a parental consent form will be distributed to the parents of the children who will undergo the self-esteem programme. The parents will be informed that the pupils' self-esteem will be measured before and after the implementation of the programme to assess improvement. One would also need to explain that a questionnaire related to the programme will be distributed after to ensure that the issues discussed would be understood. Consequently the self-esteem programme itself could be analysed for its effectiveness and modified accordingly. Although permission would be granted from the parents, the children should also be informed that their participation is voluntary and an explanation, in simple terms should be given to them, informing them of the benefits, rights and any risks involved as a consequence of participation (Frankfort-Nachmias and Nachmias, 1996). Furthermore, subjects have the right to fully comprehend what the research they are involved in entails (Cohen et al, 2000), even the young children;
"Their age should not diminish their rights, although their level of understanding must be taken into account in the explanations that are shared with them."
(Fine and Sandstrom, 1988 in Cohen et al, 2000)
Moreover, confidentiality will be promised and the information obtained will in no way be revealed to the public. Additionally, anonymity of the pupils and teachers will be kept by the use of codes instead of names.
As Frank-Nachmias and Nachmias (1996) imply, that all subjects have the right to refuse to participate in the study and moreover, they have the right to withdraw at any time. Hence, informed consent should also involve informed refusal. Nonetheless from personal experience the researcher highly believes that cooperation and goodwill from the subjects involved is essential to succeed in addressing the research question. Consequently, it is vital for researchers to keep in mind that one should always proceed in ways which are ethical and at the same time without putting the validity of the research at any risk (Cohen et al, 2000).
TASK TO DO
DATE TO DO IT
Reading & reviewing of Literature
Self-esteem programme: lesson plans & resources
Preparation & analysis of Coopersmith's SEI
Distribution of Ethics Form & Schools' consent to implement research
Parental consent from parents undergoing programme of self-esteem enhancement
Implementation of SEI
Interviews Preparation and Implementation
Data Analysis: Questionnaires & Research Diary
Table of findings - Interviews
2nd Distribution of SEI
SEI Data Analysis
Thank people involved
Reflection: Areas of Improvement
Modification of Self-esteem programme & published on CD
Derive conclusions & further areas of research
Proof reading of the dissertation
On the whole, one could claim that self-esteem is crucial to the holistic development of any person because it could help or hinder the individual as he struggles through life's experiences and challenges. Maintaining a positive self-esteem helps the individual to exploit his potentials and capabilities to the full, thus enjoying success and intrinsic happiness. Hence, the researcher is very ambitious to produce the multi-sensory self-esteem programme and witnessing its fruit amongst pupils with SEBD.