• Abbey College, Abbey Road, Hollow Lane, Ramsey Cambridgeshire PE26 1DG

INEAR: A POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAMME FOR RESILIENCE AND WELLBEING

Executive Summary

The iNEAR programme (Tunariu, 2015) is a resilience and wellbeing intervention within the school setting designed to facilitate the formation of positive identities through the acquisition of skills for growth and flourishing. iNEAR is informed by principles and research from existential positive psychology, coaching and counselling psychology. It comprises seven themed one-hour lessons systematically organised around i as a mindful social agent developing:

N New knowledge about myself
E Emotional resources and emotional intelligence
A Awareness of values, of options, of choice
R Responding with growth ‘in spite of …’

Collectively, the seven lessons foster opportunities to enhance emotional literacy as well as engagement with the notion of citizenship. Philosophically oriented dialogues on ethics, dilemmas and their resolutions are used to scaffold curiosity and positive future perspectives. An important experiential goal implicitly running throughout the programme is amplifying the drive for selfactualisation through exposure to ‘aha’ moments. Alongside, there is also the intention is expand young people’s tolerance to uncertainty and acceptance of ambiguity or contradiction for the benefit of coping repertoires of skills, emotional mastery and personal growth. As it integrates key resilience ingredients, iNEAR helps equip its participants to better cope with adversity in general and perceive adverse events as potential opportunities for learning and grow. The programme may also be regarded as one possible response to the Prevent Duty’s call for due diligence i.e., a framework for housing preventive interventions and/or complementary initiatives in schools shielding against extremist ideologies and divisive narratives in the lives of young people.

The iNEAR programme was developed in December 2015. It was piloted during January and May (1st wave) June to October 2016 (2nd wave) with a total of 354 year 7 and year 8 girls and boys at the Abbey College. As a Randomised Control Study (AB – BA design) all the participating students had the opportunity to be in the control and the experimental conditions. The iNEAR lessons were was delivered an integrated as part of the PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) National Curriculum activities scheduled for the academic year. The present document reports on the findings from the 1st wave of iNEAR implementation. The following psychometric measures are used to evaluate the effectiveness of programme: Ego Resilience (ERS); Mental Wellbeing (WEM); Coping Competence (CCQ); Openness to Diversity and Challenge (ODC); Intolerance of Uncertainty (IUS); Autonomy (A9), Personal Growth (PG), Environmental mastery (EM), and Positive Relationships with Others (PRwO).

Key findings: overall pattern

  1. Results show a strong statistically significant increase, relative to scores prior to commencing the iNEAR programme, across the following psychometric measures: Ego Resilience (ERS), Mental Wellbeing (WEM) and Positive Relationships with Others (PRwO). Notably, in comparison to the control group, students in the experimental condition have benefited from the intervention in that their growth across these areas tends to be greater relative to the baseline and reach higher values.
  2. Results show the positive impact of iNEAR to continue beyond the period of the intervention. Analysis of data collected at 3 months follow-up shows a progressive and substantial increase overall across all evaluation measures. Notably, there are robust statistically significant changes sustained at 3 months follow-up vis-à-vis students’ Mental Wellbeing (WEM), Coping Competence (CCQ), Personal Growth (PG), Environmental Mastery (EM) and Positive Relationships with Others (PRwO).
  3. The positive and socially responsible pedagogical curriculum at the Abbey College would have naturally facilitated development across almost all the evaluation variables albeit at a slower pace and with a lower predictability. The current provision is unlikely to have facilitated a growth in students’ capacity to tolerate uncertainty (IUS) and personal sense of environmental mastery (EM). These conclusions are corroborated by inferential statistical analyses of variation in the data between the experimental and control conditions (as illustrated and discussed in the report).

Key areas to consider when reviewing the curriculum:

  1. Mental Wellbeing. Compared with girls, boys in the experimental group show significantly higher improvement on positive aspects of mental health across the three time points of data collection. Girls’ scores improved from base line to Time 2 while retaining the same score at the 3 months follow up. [Girls tend to show more variation in their scores – a complexity to be factored in].
  2. Autonomy. The control group shows the ability to resist social pressures to think and act in certain way with a lesser extent than experimental group. Boys in the experimental condition show significantly higher scores of Autonomy scale than girls, especially at Time 3 data collection point.
  3. Intolerance of Uncertainty. By Time 2 (immediately after the intervention), students in the iNEAR condition are reporting significantly greater tolerance to uncertainty than the control group. Compared with girls, boys in the experimental condition show significantly greater improvements. [Continue with iNEAR type activities addressing negative beliefs and dislike of ambiguity to normalise life contradictions and tackle expectations of adverse consequences associated with uncertainty].
  4. Coping Competence. Although boys arrive at higher follow-up scores than girls, overall, girls are displaying statistically significant improvements in comparison with boys. Apart from gender differences, individual sense of coping vs. sense of helplessness also tends to be enhanced through the combined presence of personal resilience, subjective wellbeing and tolerance of uncertainty. Collectively these three elements predict 59% of the variance of Coping Competence.
  5. Personal Growth. Appreciation and investment in personal growth is increasing immediately post intervention and continues at 3 months follow-up for students in the iNEAR vs. the control condition. English reading and writing as well as Maths performance interact with gender and predict variation in Personal Growth scores.