Get up! Stand up! (version 2) : an evaluation of a school-based social skills programme
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Background: Social and emotional (SE) skills play an important role in a person’s development, while a range of negative outcomes are associated with poor SE skills (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning [CASEL], 2013; 2015; Gresham & Elliott, 2008). The targeting of these skills in school-based programmes can produce positive outcomes (Durlak, Dymnicki, Taylor, Weissberg, & Schellinger, 2011). Get Up! Stand Up! (Version 2) (GUSU2) (National Educational Psychological Service, 2017) is a SE skills programme currently in use in Irish schools. However, to date, no substantial evaluation of GUSU2 has been conducted. CASEL outline a framework for such school-based programmes which identifies several essential elements, including being well-designed, addressing five SE competencies, offering support and training to facilitators and being offered over multiple years. Programmes which meet these standards are noted to be associated with a range of positive outcomes for participants. Aim: This study aims to evaluate GUSU2 as a SE skills programme in the context of the CASEL framework. This study will consider the impact of GUSU2 on participants’ SE skills, whilst also considering the perspectives of the relevant stakeholders on GUSU2 and the training and support provided. Methodology: A mixed-method, partially mixed sequential equal status design was used to evaluate GUSU2. Documentary analysis was conducted on the GUSU2 manual. Thematic analysis, using a combination of deductive and inductive analysis (Braun, Clarke, Hayfield, & Terry, 2018; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2010) was conducted on data from four pupil focus groups involving 27 pupils and from seven semi-structured teacher interviews. Data collected by the school psychology service, using the Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scales (SSIS-RS) (Gresham & Elliott, 2008), was analysed using a mixed between-within subjects’ analysis of variance and post-hoc t-tests to determine the impact of participating in GUSU2 compared to participants in a business-as-usual control group. Data included pre- and post-intervention measures of SE skills from 225 pupils in 14 schools, including three control schools consisting of 68 pupils. In addition to the full study sample, a lower ability sample (n = 37) were identified based on their pre-intervention scores and analysed accordingly. Findings: There was a statistically significant increase in participants’ total standard scores in both the GUSU2 and business-as-usual groups in both the full study and lower ability samples. There was no significant interaction effect identified, suggesting that GUSU2 is as effective as the business-as-usual approach. However, qualitative analysis suggests that pupils engaged with the programme and demonstrated learning in several competencies. Analysis of the qualitative data indicates that several aspects of GUSU2 require further development to align with the CASEL framework. Several potential barriers to implementation and learning were identified, including a lack of ongoing external support, brief training, concerns over resources, pupil over-familiarity, and small school size. Conclusions: Several implications from this evaluation are discussed, including areas for development within GUSU2 in relation to the CASEL framework, issues regarding programme fidelity and the collection of appropriate data. Suggestions for further research and policy are also made.
KeywordsSocial and emotional skills