Details of Thesis

Title Research and Evaluation of Psycho-Educational Approaches to Prevention and Intervention for Marginalised Young People in the Barwon Region of Victoria
Author Green, Susan Margaret
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2006
Abstract This study undertook an evaluation of six alternative education programs provided by St Augustine's Education and Training in the Barwon region of Victoria. The impetus for the study has come from the staff of St Augustine's who bravely opened up their programs to closer scrutiny in order to gain a clearer understanding about the needs of the students attending their programs, the theoretical basis of their work and the outcomes of program intervention. A utilisation-focused approach was used and incorporated the following components: a needs analysis using a variety of measures to identify the characteristics of the students and to describe the experiences of students and parents, a qualitative process to articulate the model of psycho-education intervention and issues in service delivery and an impact evaluation to assess the effectiveness of intervention. There were 158 students aged between 6 and 15 years enrolled in programs over a two year period. The results of the needs analysis found that programs were appropriately targeting a marginalised and disadvantaged group of students that typically came from a low socioeconomic background, were significantly behind in their academic achievement, had poor adaptive functioning skills, exhibited a low level of social-emotional development (social-emotional competencies and negative attitudes towards learning) and a high level of psychopathology (mental health symptoms). Using the Survey of Student Assets (Bernard, 2002), the impact evaluation found that programs were successful in increasing the students' social-emotional capabilities and positive attitudes towards learning but did not impact significantly on the students' presenting mental health symptoms and adaptive functioning as measured by the Teachers Report Form (Achenbach and Rescoria, 2001). However, these results are to be interpreted with caution given the small sample sizes used in the analysis. Across the six programs it was found that a total of 89 students (56.3%) experienced a positive outcome destination immediately post-program and these students were maintained in, or transitioned back to mainstream school (n=71) or entered vocational training, education or employment (n= 18). Negative outcome destinations were experienced by 35 students (22.1 %) either because they were excluded (n=3), not engaged (n= 15) or withdrew from program (n= 17). At the end of the study, the remaining 25 students (15.8%) were either referred internally onto another program (n=16) or remained in program (n=9). In predicting outcome destinations, students with positive outcomes, were those that presented with less serious mental health symptoms, in particular they had lower rule-breaking and externalising scores on the Teachers Report Form at referral and a higher level of adaptive functioning in the area of 'working hard'. Students experiencing positive outcome destinations were also those that attended program regularly and for a fewer number of months and were involved in fewer critical incidents whilst attending. The qualitative process evaluation found that the model delivered was grounded in the principles of exemplary practice found in the psycho-educational literature and focused on building positive relationships and a sense of belonging, the provision of hands-on learning activities and rewarding individual achievement. Parents and students generally provided positive feedback however the theme analysis of staff, student and parent interviews and the case study scenarios did identify a number of critical areas to be addressed. These included clarifying the target group and the length and intensity of intervention, improving assessment, planning and transition processes, better collaboration with other services and mainstream schools, the on-site delivery of auxiliary services to meet specific student needs, work to better support and involve parents and to develop a sense of community across the school. A strategic planning process involving key stakeholders to systematically address these areas was recommended.
Thesis 01front.pdf  638KB
02chapter1.pdf 4,690KB
03chapter2.pdf  1,576KB
04chapter3.pdf 1280KB
05chapter4.pdf  2463KB
06chapter5.pdf 2661KB
07chapter6.pdf  843KB
08chapter7.pdf 2189KB
09chapter8.pdf  2187KB
10chapter9.pdf 1220KB
11references.pdf  7434KB

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