Managing student wellbeing - Step 3

How to manage data for meaningful interventions
Ilia Lindsay
9/9/2022
2022/11/14

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Once we have considered how and what we are going to monitor and decided what type of measurement will provide schools with the most meaningful data, the final step is to consider how to manage what you find - how to intervene in the most meaningful way. 

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When using the monitor, measure, manage process schools can be intentional and strategic in their choices when it comes to how and what information is gathered and thus can be more targeted and effective in supporting students.

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The final step of “manage” is perhaps the most powerful part of this process. In the most simplest of forms we can break down wellbeing interventions into either school-wide intervention or cohort/student targeted interventions.

School-wide intervention considerations: 

Go to evidence-based interventions

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There is extensive research on effective school-wide interventions for a range of wellbeing topics. From mindfulness (Fever et al., 2016; Renshaw, 2020) and internalising difficulties (McIntosh & Miller, 2014) to social and emotional skill building (Anderson, Houser & Howland, 2010), through to digital wellbeing and social media interventions (Van Den Beet, Thurlings & Willems, 2020). Go to the evidence, the hard work is done for you and you then know with confidence you are implementing a strategy that is tried and effective.

Strengths focus and the positive psychology

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The acknowledgement and celebration of student strengths and positive psychology frameworks is important to consider when we are talking school-wide intervention (Ciarrochi et al., 2016). Research tells us that positive practices within the schools’ curriculum are effective and easily implemented tools that help enhance adolescents’ mental health (Carr et al., 2021). Positive psychology interventions show improvement in wellbeing, gratitude, hope, resilience and self awareness (Chodkiewicz & Boyle, 2017). When we are working in an under-resourced and time poor environment, positive psychology interventions are an evidence-based answer to many of these difficulties. 

Resourcing - time and money

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Research tells us that school-wide intervention are time and cost effective. School-wide interventions allow change in school climate. Research tells us that school-wide interventions often do more than just up-skill students in a chosen area; instead, we see environmental changes and changes that are often maintained long term because the whole school is speaking the same “wellbeing language” (Brokar, 2016).  

Targeted intervention considerations (student or selected cohort)

Group vs Individual

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If school wellbeing data suggests a group of students or individual students need additional support, we can offer specific and targeted support. We can do this through group intervention or individual sessions depending in the needs. When considering whether to use a small group or individual intervention, we need to consider things such as confidentiality and sensitivity to certain topics and appropriateness of sharing content with others, learning and cognitive ability, maturity and psychological safety. 

Skill building

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Similar to the strengths focus and positive psychology section above, we see more benefit and engagement when students are working on their strengths compared to deficits and difficulties. This does not mean turning a blind eye to areas of weakness that need support, rather it means we focus and bring to light the strengths that a student has and how these can support them to either problem solve or acquire new skills (Proctor et al., 2011). 

Additional referrals and specialist support

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At times, our students need more specialised support. Regular collection of student wellbeing data allows schools to accurately identify students who may need additional support and referrals to external services. This method helps find students who otherwise may have suffered in silence and “slipped between the cracks.”

Resourcing - time and money

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Using data to guide intervention decisions both in content and delivery options means we are more time and cost effective because we know what the needs of the student are and can move faster into our early intervention and/or prevention work. Research tells us that when early intervention models are used there is significant benefits to financial and resourcing outcomes.

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The key to this 'manage' stage of the process is that the data collection allows us to be more specific and accurate in our support and therefore more efficient in our time and resources. Of course, surveys and questionnaires won’t capture everything that is going on for a student but this data does eliminate some of the guess work. We hear of the difficulties that teachers and educators are often under practical resourcing constraints so if we can remove some of the guess work we remove some of the barriers to our students receiving the support they need.

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Student wellbeing will never be 100%, that is not the world we live in. We live in a time of change and adolescence will always be a time of change so our wellbeing strategy needs to be dynamic and evolving. We can use the 'monitor - measure - manage' process alongside 'reflect- re-align - repeat' to guide strategical decisions, curriculum choices, and funding and pastoral care decisions.

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If you look at this diagram we see this ongoing feedback loop and then when we come to a natural pause to the process such as the end of a school term, school year or teaching module,  this signals a reflection process. It is crucial that we pause and take the time to reflect on learnings, re-align where needed to make sure we continue to meet the function and purpose of wellbeing support and then repeat the cycle again.

We work with many international schools to help them implement tailored, best-in-class student wellbeing strategies. If you’d like to learn more about how we can support yours to best evidence and support your students’ wellbeing, get in touch today!

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References: 

  • Anderson, J. A., Houser, J. H., & Howland, A. (2010). The Full Purpose Partnership model for promoting academic and socio-emotional success in schools. School Community Journal, 20(1), 31-54.
  • Borkar, V. N. (2016). Positive school climate and positive education: Impact on students well-being. Indian Journal of Health & Wellbeing, 7(8).
  • Carr, A., Cullen, K., Keeney, C., Canning, C., Mooney, O., Chinseallaigh, E., & O’Dowd, A. (2021). Effectiveness of positive psychology interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 16(6), 749-769.
  • Chodkiewicz, A. R., & Boyle, C. (2017). Positive psychology school‐based interventions: A reflection on current success and future directions. Review of Education, 5(1), 60-86.
  • Ciarrochi, J., Atkins, P. W., Hayes, L. L., Sahdra, B. K., & Parker, P. (2016). Contextual positive psychology: Policy recommendations for implementing positive psychology into schools. Frontiers in psychology, 1561.
  • Felver, J. C., Celis-de Hoyos, C. E., Tezanos, K., & Singh, N. N. (2016). A systematic review of mindfulness-based interventions for youth in school settings. Mindfulness, 7(1), 34-45.
  • McIntosh, K., Ty, S. V., & Miller, L. D. (2014). Effects of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports on internalizing problems: Current evidence and future directions. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 16(4), 209-218.
  • Proctor, C., Tsukayama, E., Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Eades, J. F., & Linley, P. A. (2011). Strengths gym: The impact of a character strengths-based intervention on the life satisfaction and well-being of adolescents. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(5), 377-388.
  • Renshaw, T. L. (2020). Mindfulness-based intervention in schools.
  • Van Den Beemt, A., Thurlings, M., & Willems, M. (2020). Towards an understanding of social media use in the classroom: a literature review. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 29(1), 35-55.