Peer Wellbeing Champions in secondary schools: towards an understanding of Digital-Peer-Mentoring for Wellbeing.

UoM administered thesis: Doctor of Education

  • Authors:
  • Rebecca Lunson Southall

Abstract

Peer Wellbeing Champions in secondary schools: towards an understanding of Digital-Peer-Mentoring and Wellbeing. This thesis reports on a case study of the digital Peer Wellbeing Champions Project (PWCP) in schools in Sherringdon County in England, with a specific focus on innovation in wellbeing promoting provision. This diachronic case-study consisted of three stages of fieldwork with mixed methods of data collection where student perceptions were of central interest. Fieldwork activities comprised of co-design focus processes, digital-mentoring implementation, data collection and co-evaluation of a contemporary digital-peer-mentoring initiative in secondary schools. Document analysis revealed inconsistent wellbeing promoting practices across the study sites and with no digital-peer-mentoring interventions. Data from a questionnaire and initial focus groups was analysed to create a framework of respondent perceptions of their Knowledge, Attitudes, Behaviours, Feelings and Sociality (KAB-FS) associated with wellbeing. Analysis of preliminary data revealed students’ accurate knowledge of available school-based support, but notable issues raised included concerns about long waiting times, stigma and inaccessibility. Literature review enabled the construction of the WELL4U-conceptual-model-of-change which assisted the design of the mentoring programme logistics, pedagogical practices and psycho-educational materials. The creation of the PWCP commenced with volunteer students participating in the co-design of a new online qualification for a group of 159, 11-18-year-old students which then enabled them to volunteer as digital-peer-mentors. The co-designed voluntary mentoring service was made available to every student within seven participating sites and delivered online via a co-designed Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) known as WELL4U, over a nine-month period between November 2015 and August 2016. The aims of the mentoring service were to; educate peers about the Six Ways to Wellbeing (6WTW) and increase their enactment; encourage app-based wellbeing self-monitoring; provide peer-emotional-support and destigmatise support seeking. A pre-training questionnaire was delivered online to 159 PWCs. The questionnaire data analysis created a baseline picture relative to the PWCs KAB-F associated with wellbeing before they were exposed to any training material. Stage 2 of the fieldwork involved the delivery of the mentor training and observation of the online mentoring service. PWC and site-user activities within the VLE such as discussion forum, cartoon blogging and wellbeing self-monitoring app usage were recorded. Informal mentoring by the PWCs via LiveChat and non-PWC peer to peer interaction was observed as well as formal booked PWC mentoring sessions which generated reflective mentoring logs and site-user mentor session ratings. The various types of data were categorised as evidence of changes mental capital i.e. the KAB-F factors and an additional outcome of interest social capital, designated in the outcomes framework as sociality or S. Post-participation data analysis revealed self-rated perceived changes in KAB-FS outcomes. Combined data from the evaluative stage of the fieldwork in which both PWCs and VLE site-users, including mentees, shared their positive perceptions of the functioning of the service and gave insight into their perception of the impact of the online mentoring on their KAB-FS outcomes. The conceptual model was critiqued using the findings of the data analysis of the PWC focus groups and interviews and a wide variety of tangible examples of perceived impact, revealed both personally and directly for the PWCs and site-users and also for a wider sphere of influence of the PWCs in terms of their family and friendship groups. A revised model was produced and four individual case-examples provided to evaluate its explanatory use for different types of service-user, including non-mentees, mentees and PWC mentors. Contributions to knowledge include new empirical data regarding student perceptions of digital-peer-mentoring for wellbeing; identification of a unique pedagogy known as opagogy; and the phenomenon of the most beneficial outcomes for wellbeing being perceived within the PWC mentors themselves. Finally, recommendations for further research into digital-peer-mentoring for wellbeing were made alongside an imperative for policy and practice to be reviewed within schools in the area of student wellbeing promotion.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date1 Aug 2019