An exploration of education professionals' construing in relation to student attachment style

Page, Claire (2011) An exploration of education professionals' construing in relation to student attachment style. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This study employed a Personal Construct Theory approach (Kelly, 1955/63) to explore education professionals' construing regarding behaviours of secondary-age students representative of the four main patterns of Attachment - 'Avoidant', 'Ambivalent', 'Disorganised' and 'Secure' (Ainsworth & Wittig, 1969; Main & Solomon, 1986; cf attachment theory, Bowlby, 1969; 1973; 1980). Constructs were elicited during individual interviews and rated by participants on a 7-point scale within a repertory grid. Analysis of grids was undertaken in terms of content (the words generated) and structure (the relationships between constructs and elements shown by numerical ratings) (Jankowicz,2004).

Participants were 10 Educational Psychologists, 10 class tutors/subject teachers (,General Teachers',) and 10 teachers/pastoral staff (Specialist ESBD/ Pastoral Teachers) working within the pastoral and behaviour management sections of mainstream High Schools (Years 6 or 7 to 9 inclusive).

A review of literature outlines current educational context regarding Emotional, Social and Behavioural Difficulties (ESBD) in school and traditional and 'modern' aspects of attachment theory.

The language utilised within participants' construing was found to reflect aspects of attachment theory. There was a generally high level of use of constructs allied with emotional and relational aspects of behaviour across all participants, suggesting that interventions based in these areas for ESBD problems may be positively received. At the structural level, findings from repertory grids suggested that participants' preferred poles of constructs were more closely associated with students representative of a secure attachment style than those representative of an insecure style. This accords with previous findings from research into resilience (Gilligan, 2000). Individual differences were apparent with regard to participants' ratings of their constructs for students representing insecure attachment styles, although there were some trends to suggest that General Teachers may tend to associate avoidant insecure students with more preferred aspects of their construing than the other two participant groups.

The provision of in-service training on attachment theory to the Specialist ESBD/Pastoral Teacher participants had little impact on either their construing or on their ratings of constructs. This was conjectured to be a participant effect related to a highly developed understanding of issues underlying ESBD. Any differences were most evident at the individual level.

The discussion considers that education professionals, particularly those with ESBD expertise, may be receptive to emotional and relationship-based interventions for students with challenging behaviour. It also contends that attachment theory could potentially be a useful theoretical framework as it fits well with participants' construing regarding student behaviours. However, individual differences suggest that adults' own internal working models and aspects of experience of working with students with significant ESBD may impact on its efficacy.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Miller, A.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 14398
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2014 10:14
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 08:30

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