Pennington Education
Fostering creativity and resilience
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Publications

Publications

Pennington Education reflects current research in the fields of educational and positive psychology.


Teachers and Teacher Education: Global Perspectives, Challenges and Prospects. (Chapter 8: Positive Education: Theory, practices, and challenges.)

This book is available to purchase here.

Pennington, R., Yeung, A. S., Dillon, A., & Noble, T. (2018). Positive education: Theory, practices, and challenges. In L. A. Caudle (Ed.), Teachers and teacher education: Global perspectives, challenges and prospects (pp. 139-155). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

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I am currently completing my PhD studies at the ACU Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

Title

Defining and Evaluating a Theoretical Framework for 'Positive Education’.

Abstract

Positive Education (PE) is a term that is employed to describe the integration of the core principles of Positive Psychology with the evidence-informed structures, practices and programs that enhance both wellbeing and academic achievement (Noble & McGrath, 2016). Though it would be beneficial for educators and researchers, there is no precise definition of what PE entails and, in turn, how it may be implemented to ensure beneficial outcomes. This project will study the implementation of the Bounce Back! resilience program and PE intervention (Noble & McGrath, 2011) in six schools to ascertain which evidence based elements of wellbeing (Positivity, Relationships, Outcomes, Strengths, Purpose, Engagement and Resilience, collectively known as PROSPER (Noble & McGrath, 2015) benefit. The results of this study will be significant for educators around the world, who will be able to understand definitively what Positive Education entails, and the ways in which to implement it to develop greater mental wellbeing in their students. It will produce a model for Positive Education that will be replicable across any school setting, thus increasing its reach.


I completed my Masters of Education (Research) at The University of Sydney. Please contact me for a copy of this thesis.

Title

Teachers' Perspectives: What Support Systems are Needed to Ensure Effective Implementation of SEL by Classroom Teachers?

Abstract

The traditional role of schools as solely responsible for the academic achievement of its students has been altered in recent times, with an increased focus on addressing their social and emotional needs, so that children may have the resilience to manage the challenges they face. Research indicates that this aspect of a teacher’s role is assisted through the use of social-emotional programming and practices.

Activity Theory is a descriptive framework that considers an entire activity system (in this case, a school environment) in order to explain how a range of factors work together to impact an activity like the provision of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) (Engestrom, 2000).  This case study examined the perceptions of three teachers from one primary school utilising Activity Theory (Engestrom, 2000) to first identify and describe the components of the activity system (the activity system being the school in question). The purpose of this case study was to gain insight into teachers’ perceptions of how SEL is addressed at a primary school and in turn provide understanding on SEL promotion and directions to take for success.

There were a few key tensions that inhibited the effective implementation of SEL in the school. It seems that its perceived importance is low for some of the staff, which may be attributed to a lack of professional development and therefore knowledge about SEL. In addition, inconsistent policies result in uncertainty for teachers as to what they are ‘meant’ to do. The participants were unsure of school wide expectations, making the high priority of SEL less likely, and they perceived that irrelevant programs were in use.

Analysis of the professional development surrounding SEL at the school in question, the systemic policies, the executive commitment and the relevance of SEL programs indicated tensions in the activity system. If alleviated, they would serve to further to the goal of effective SEL implementation by placing SEL higher on teachers’ lists of priorities. A recommendation for further study into the provision of SEL in schools would be to examine the use and effectiveness of different teaching strategies incorporating the development of social emotional skills.

The examination of these teachers’ experiences has illuminated which areas need support and in turn offers strategies and resources to assist the whole school provision of SEL.