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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2002

Saoirse Nic Gabhainn and Cecily Kelleher

This paper presents comparative data from two evaluations which employed the draw and write technique to collect data from primary school pupils (ages eight to ten years)…

Abstract

This paper presents comparative data from two evaluations which employed the draw and write technique to collect data from primary school pupils (ages eight to ten years). Pupils from health promoting schools and schools with conventional health education classes were significantly more likely to draw pictures across a range of categories than pupils who had received no health education, but these varied significantly by the type of intervention. Pupils from health promoting schools drew more pictures illustrating relationships, play, rest and work, while those who had been exposed to traditional health education were more likely to draw pictures showing individual lifestyle behaviours. This implies that the draw and write technique is sensitive to differences in approach to health education within schools. A number of gender differences emerged which also supported this interpretation. This research also suggests that this technique is sensitive to the influence of school based health initiatives and is a useful tool for assessing such developments.

Details

Health Education, vol. 102 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 13 November 2018

Christina Murphy, Margaret M. Barry and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn

School-based programmes face a variety of personal, environmental and organisational challenges to implementation. Stakeholders can provide crucial contextual information…

Abstract

Purpose

School-based programmes face a variety of personal, environmental and organisational challenges to implementation. Stakeholders can provide crucial contextual information to improve implementation. The purpose of this paper is to explore teachers’ perspectives on implementation through a bottom-up participatory process.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative participatory approach was employed. This comprised groups of teachers theorising and creating schemas of school-based implementation.

Findings

Two schemas were developed. Support, time, training and resources emerged as common components. Students and other educational stakeholders did not feature in either schema.

Research limitations/implications

The schemas were developed by teachers in Ireland. The findings are relevant to that local context and generalisability beyond this may be limited. The developed schemas contain structural and content components that appear in published conceptual frameworks of programme implementation. Thus, there is some correspondence between the views of published theorists and the current sample of teachers, particularly with regard to leadership and teacher motivation. There are also disjunctures that deserve exploration, such as the lack of reference to students.

Practical implications

Participatory schema development could be of particular value to trainers working with educators. The generated schemas provide useful detail on current perspectives, which could be valuable as part of any training process or the pre-planning stages of implementation.

Originality/value

This study describes a straightforward approach to revealing the perspectives of stakeholders that could help school-based implementation processes.

Details

Health Education, vol. 118 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 23 October 2007

Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Jane Sixsmith, Ellen‐Nora Delaney, Miriam Moore, Jo Inchley and Siobhan O'Higgins

The purpose of this paper is to outline a three‐stage process for engaging with students to develop school level indicators of health; in sequential class groups students…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to outline a three‐stage process for engaging with students to develop school level indicators of health; in sequential class groups students first generated, then categorised indicators and finally developed schematic representations of their analyses. There is a political and practical need to develop appropriate indicators for health‐promoting schools. As key stakeholders in education, students have the right to be fully engaged in this process.

Design/methodology/approach

The sample in this paper comprised 164 students aged 16‐17 years in three medium‐sized Dublin schools. In the first classroom, students answered the question “If you moved to a new school, what would it need to have to be a healthy place?” on individual flashcards. In the second classroom students classified the flashcards into groups using a variation of the card game “snap”. In the third classroom, students discussed the relationships between the developed categories and determined how the categories should be presented. These procedures were repeated twice in three schools, resulting in six developed schemata.

Findings

The paper finds that the six sets of categories showed remarkable similarity – physical aspects of the school predominated but emotional and social health issues also emerged as potential indicators. The schema demonstrated the holistic perspectives of students. They illustrate the importance of relationships and the physical and psycho‐social environment within schools.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates that students can productively engage in the process of indicator development and have the potential to act as full stakeholders in health‐promoting schools. The methods enabled student control over the data generation, analysis and presentation phases of the research, and provided a positive, fun experience for both students and researchers.

Details

Health Education, vol. 107 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 19 October 2010

Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Siobhan O'Higgins and Margaret Barry

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is mandated in all Irish schools. This study aims to illuminate the perceived value and quality of SPHE and to document…

Abstract

Purpose

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is mandated in all Irish schools. This study aims to illuminate the perceived value and quality of SPHE and to document facilitators of successful implementation.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study approach was taken, where 713 pupils, 968 parents and 49 teachers and other staff across a stratified random sample of 12 schools completed questionnaires and participated in interviews and focus groups. Data were integrated at the school level and subsequently across schools.

Findings

Stakeholders generally agreed on the worth of SPHE. However, its perceived value relative to other areas of the curriculum varied by school context. Facilitators for successful implementation included training for teachers, inclusion of SPHE in school planning and evaluation processes, and organisational support for SPHE via timetabling and resource management within schools.

Research limitations/implications

Case studies were useful for investigating implementation at school level, but replication with more schools, across contexts, is warranted. Parental knowledge was limited and response rates from parents were in general low.

Practical implications

During planning, implementation and evaluation it appears to be crucial to recognise and respond meaningfully to existing contexts within schools. Given the methodologies of SPHE, the delivery of innovation across the whole school curriculum could be led and supported by more fully embracing this compulsory development.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates the value of exploring implementation at school level through the involvement of a range of educational stakeholders. It documents crucial success factors for schools and health educators, particularly in the context of the introduction of compulsory health education.

Details

Health Education, vol. 110 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 31 August 2010

Siobhán O'Higgins, Jane Sixsmith and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn

The shared language of youth includes understandings of concepts that can be different from those of adults. Researchers, in their efforts to explore and illuminate the…

Abstract

Purpose

The shared language of youth includes understandings of concepts that can be different from those of adults. Researchers, in their efforts to explore and illuminate the health behaviours and decision‐making processes of young people, use generic terms in their data collecting protocols. This study aims to explore what adolescents understand by the words “healthy” and “happy”.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi‐structured interviews were conducted in three post‐primary schools with 31 students aged 12 and 13 years. Drawing on a grounded theory approach, interviews were transcribed and subjected to thematic content analysis.

Findings

The students provided a description and explanation of what health and happiness meant to them and how they intended to maintain both as they grew older. Perceptions of these two concepts were found to contain gendered nuances. This was clear in relation to descriptions of how friends were part of well‐being; the girls were more likely to talk about feeling restricted and resentment at being treated like children and only the boys talked of looking forward to things.

Originality/value

In order to gain an understanding of young people's perspectives about what matters and what influences their health behaviour, a clearer view of the different perspectives held by researcher and researched needs to be established so that more accurate conclusions can be drawn from data generated by young people.

Details

Health Education, vol. 110 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 30 September 2014

Natasha Daniels, Colette Kelly, Michal Molcho, Jane Sixsmith, Molly Byrne and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn

Active travel to school, by walking or cycling, can positively influence children's health and increase physical activity. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the…

Abstract

Purpose

Active travel to school, by walking or cycling, can positively influence children's health and increase physical activity. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the context and promoters and barriers of active travel, and the required actions and actors that need to be involved to address each of these.

Design/methodology/approach

Both quantitative and participative research methodologies were employed. The sample consisted of 73 children aged between 11 and 13 years from four primary schools in the West of Ireland. A self-completion questionnaire was followed by a participative protocol conducted with the class groups.

Findings

Overall 30.1 per cent of children reported that they actively travelled to school. A greater proportion of children from urban and disadvantaged schools actively travelled. Proximity to the school was the most frequently reported promoter and barrier. The children identified many actors that need to be involved to eliminate the barriers and enact the promoters of active travel to school. They also highlighted the need for a multi-sectorial approach to improve active travel rates in Ireland.

Originality/value

This study holds potential value in addressing the continued decline in active travel to school in Ireland as it shares a new perspective on the issue; that of the children. Adopting a participative approach allowed the children to participate in groups and develop the data themselves. The children confirmed that they have a relevant and valuable understanding of the process necessary to address active travel to school as a public health issue in Ireland.

Details

Health Education, vol. 114 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2014

Yetunde Olufisayo John-Akinola, Aoife Gavin, Siobhán Elizabeth O’Higgins and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn

Child participation is increasingly a global phenomenon as stated by Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on Children's Rights. This supports the first principle…

Abstract

Purpose

Child participation is increasingly a global phenomenon as stated by Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on Children's Rights. This supports the first principle, Democracy, of the Health Promoting School movement. The purpose of this paper is to facilitate a three-phase participatory research process (PRP) to document the views of children about participation in school.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 248 primary school pupils aged nine to 13 years participated: the first group of pupils answered two questions on individual coloured paper; the second group categorised these data separately, by question, assigning labels for each of the categories; and the third group used the categories to develop schema. The analysis was inductive.

Findings

The most common categories for what made pupils feel a part of their school were school uniforms, sports, friends, teachers and their school/classroom environment. Increase in the number of school activities, encouraging friendship and equal participation were key indicators of how pupils would ensure that everybody felt a part of the school. The findings indicate that interpersonal relationships and belonging are in the opinion of children important for taking part in school life.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates children's understanding of what taking part in school means to them. The PRP encouraged pupils to have control of the three-phase research process, and demonstrated the ability of children to work together in groups while having fun at the same time.

Details

Health Education, vol. 114 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 29 July 2014

Yetunde O. John-Akinola and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn

Parental participation is important for strengthening and sustaining the concept of school health promotion but little is written on the processes involved. The purpose of…

Abstract

Purpose

Parental participation is important for strengthening and sustaining the concept of school health promotion but little is written on the processes involved. The purpose of this paper is to assess Irish parents’ and pupils’ views on how parents take part, or would like to take part, in school life.

Design/methodology/approach

The sample was recruited from nine primary schools, three Health Promoting Schools and six matched schools. Pupils aged nine to 13 years in the 4th, 5th and 6th class groups participated in the study. Parents of all participating pupils were also invited to take part in the study. Data were collected by self-completion questionnaire, comprising three closed and one open question.

Findings

A total of 218 parents and 231 pupils participated. There was general agreement between parents and pupils on parental participation in school. Overall 40.6 per cent of parents and 43.2 per cent of pupils reported that parents frequently take part in school activities. A majority of both parents (79.5 per cent) and pupils (83.6 per cent), agreed that parents were encouraged to talk about things that concern their child in school, while 73.5 per cent of parents and 65.6 per cent of pupils reported that they were made to feel a part of child's school. Qualitative data from parents and pupils suggested similar ways in which parents can best take part in school. Some respondents suggested how schools could engage with parents but most responses provided examples of how parents could act directly to take part in school life. These direct actions included doing, helping with, and watching school activities such as sports, tours, music and cake sales.

Originality/value

The findings illustrate the similarity of views of parents and pupils concerning parents’ participation in school life and suggest that children may have the potential to represent the voice of their parents in school when considering how to improve parental participation in schools.

Details

Health Education, vol. 114 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 23 October 2007

Jane Sixsmith, Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Collette Fleming and Sioban O'Higgins

The purpose of this paper is to present an exploration of parents', teachers' and childrens' perspectives on children's understanding of wellbeing with the aim of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present an exploration of parents', teachers' and childrens' perspectives on children's understanding of wellbeing with the aim of illuminating and comparing the conceptualisation of wellbeing from these three perspectives.

Design/methodology/approach

The participatory method developed to undertake the study in this paper stems from the adoption of the “draw and write” technique, with children taking photographs rather than drawing and participating in data analysis. Children aged eight to 12 years took 723 photographs representing wellbeing, while a second set of children grouped the photographs into categories. A third set organised these categories, developing and illustrating through schemata the pattern of relationships between categories. This process was repeated for parent and teacher groups drawing on the photographs taken by the children.

Findings

The findings in this paper show that differences emerged between parents and teachers and children and adults. Parents provided a more detailed conceptualisation than teachers. Children included pets where adults perceived school as being more important in children's wellbeing. The identification of the differing perspectives between children and adults suggests that this approach has enabled children to illuminate their own unique perspective on wellbeing. The paper also demonstrates that children can express complex understandings of abstract concepts.

Originality/value

In the paper the findings reinforce the need to gain children's perspectives rather than relying on adult perceptions of children's perspectives, in order to inform quality service, practice and policy developments.

Details

Health Education, vol. 107 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2015

Yetunde O. John-Akinola and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn

Attention to improving the school environment is a common activity in school health promotion. The role of the school environment in supporting improved health and…

Abstract

Purpose

Attention to improving the school environment is a common activity in school health promotion. The role of the school environment in supporting improved health and wellbeing has a theoretical base, but has rarely been directly investigated empirically. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the associations between school socio-ecological environment and health and wellbeing outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

Questionnaire data were collected from 231 pupils in nine primary schools: urban and rural; single and mixed gender; disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged; and health promoting schools (HPS) and non-HPS. Questionnaire items included perceptions of the school socio- ecological environment (school perception, class relationships, teacher relationships, school policy and parental participation) and health and wellbeing outcomes.

Findings

Reported school perception (OR 1.21, 95 per cent CI 1.12-1.30), class relationships (OR 1.13, 95 per cent CI 1.06-1.21), relationship with teacher (OR 1.20, 95 per cent CI 1.11-1.29), perception of school policy (OR 1.25, 95 per cent CI 1.13-1.37) and parents’ participation in school life (OR 1.32, 95 per cent CI 1.15-1.51) were all significantly associated with health and wellbeing outcomes for all groups of pupils. Very few differences emerged between different school types on the measures of either school socio-ecological environment or measures of health and wellbeing.

Originality/value

The socio-ecological environment is clearly related to general health and wellbeing outcomes, which underlines its relevance to school health promotion. The lack of discernable differences between HPS and non-HPS demonstrate the lack of clarity in definitions of the health promoting status of schools.

Details

Health Education, vol. 115 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

Keywords

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