Helen Askell-Williams

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    Involvement in Bullying During High School: A Survival Analysis Approach
    (Springer Publishing Company, 2018-06-01) Skrzypiec, Grace; Askell-Williams, Helen; Slee, Phillip T; Lawson, Mike Joseph
    Knowledge about the risks of bullying involvement during any year of high school is an important element of interventions for changing the likelihood of being bullied. Three cohorts of Australian students (n = 1,382) were tracked from 7th grade to 11th grade. The study showed that some students continue their involvement in bullying, while in addition, new bullies and new victims emerge during each high school year. The findings indicated that the risk of bullying involvement ranged from 16% (as a bully) to 36% (as a victim), increasing to 54.5% and 56.3%, respectively, if a student was a bully or a victim in 7th grade. The risk to students of becoming victims, bullies, or bully–victims in each year of high school suggests that bullying prevention initiatives should be designed to suit students at different stages of adolescent development.
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    Mainland Chinese students’ mental health: baseline data and cautionary notes when exporting/importing psychological scales
    (Taylor & Francis Group, 2018-05-29) Askell-Williams, Helen; Skrzypiec, Grace; Cao, Fei; Jin, Yan
    There is a growing interest in mainland China about schools’ roles in supporting students to develop positive mental health. However, relatively little data have been collected about mainland Chinese students’ mental health. This article reports a collaborative study, by eastern and western researchers, to translate and administer the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and a School Satisfaction Scale (SSS) to students in mainland China. We discuss the possible absence of some western psychological constructs in eastern contexts, and possible cultural differences in the levels of participants’ compliant responses. Descriptive results indicated that the mainland Chinese students’ SDQ responses were similar to students in comparative countries. Factor analyses indicated that the SDQ needed modification when used with our mainland Chinese sample. Structural equation modelling showed relationships between higher school satisfaction and lower mental difficulties. The study provides baseline data to inform school-based mental health promotion initiatives in mainland China. Broader outcomes are to inform researchers and educators about processes and cautions when using previously validated questionnaires in new cultural contexts. We highlight the need for close east–west researcher collaboration when exporting/importing psychological questionnaires.
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    Life at school and mental health from students' points of view: A study from Malta
    (Sense Publications, 2017) Askell-Williams, Helen; Cefai, Carmel
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    Collaboration with parents/carers in KidsMatter school
    (Sense Publications, 2017) Skrzypiec, Grace; Slee, Phillip T; Askell-Williams, Helen
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    University lecturers' perspectives on initial teacher education for mental health promotion in schools
    (Sense Publications, 2017) Cefai, Carmel; Askell-Williams, Helen
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    Perspectives from teachers and school leaders about long-term sustainability: A challenge for mental health promotion initiatives in educational settings
    (Sense Publications, 2017) Askell-Williams, Helen
    The chapters in this book report research into a range of programs, across many countries, which have as their central concern the promotion of young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Funding has been directed towards introducing programs into primary schools, secondary schools and early childhood centres to develop young people’s mental health and wellbeing. These have included initiatives such as regular social and emotional education for all children, establishment of more effective and efficient referral pathways, and working collaboratively with parents/carers to support children and youth. During the initial phases of these initiatives, attention has been directed towards designing and testing good quality evidence-based programs. As efficacious programs have been rolled-out, attention has turned to achieving good quality implementation of program components. Now, as the field has matured, the key issue that emerges is the sustainability of programs once the initial implementation phases are over, and start-up resources (often substantial) are withdrawn. This issue of sustainability is of concern across international boundaries. In this chapter I report a research project that investigates teachers’ and school leaders’ perspectives about what has worked, and what has not worked, in achieving sustainability of wellbeing and mental health promotion initiatives in educational settings.
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    School staff's perspectives on mental health promotion and wellbeing in school
    (Sense Publications, 2017) Cefai, Carmel; Askell-Williams, Helen
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    Life at school: And students' mental health
    (Australian College of Educators, 2017-05) Askell-Williams, Helen
    The 2016 NAPLAN results have been rolled out. Parents/careers and children might be ecstatic, happy, unhappy, anxious, angry, dismayed, sad, depressed. NAPLAN is an example of just one of many things that happen in schools that are not only related to learning, but also to emotions and mental health.
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    Parents' Perspectives of School Mental Health Promotion Initiatives are Related to Parents' Self-Assessed Parenting Capabilities
    (Cambridge University Press, 2015-12-07) Askell-Williams, Helen
    Achieving broad-scale parenti engagement with school initiatives has proven elusive. This paper reports survey data from 287 Maltese parents about their perceptions of the quality of their child's school’s initiatives for promoting students' wellbeing and mental health. Findings indicate that, on average, parents rated school initiatives highly. However, a MANCOVA of respondents grouped into three categories of Self-assessed Parenting Capabilities (low; medium; high) showed that parents who held low perceptions of their own parenting capabilities also held significantly lower perceptions of the quality of schools’ mental health promotion initiatives. Less favourable dispositions towards school mental health promotion initiatives by parents with relatively low-parenting capabilities have implications for the design and delivery of school-based initiatives. For example, typical parent engagement, support and information provision activities (e.g., parent-teacher meetings, newsletters) might be less well received in families that arguably have a greater need to engage with such initiatives. This study has implications for whole-school mental health promotion initiatives that seek to include all parents.
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    Framing the features of good quality knowledge for teachers and students
    (Cambridge University Press, 2012-07) Lawson, Mike Joseph; Askell-Williams, Helen
    In this paper we have two concerns. First we consider the features used to describe good quality learning actions and knowledge representations. Our second concern is the need to develop students’ knowledge of how to act, during teaching-learning transactions, in order to generate good quality knowledge representations. There is a convergence of views, at a broad level, about the character of good quality knowledge. Although there are frequent specifications of the features of good quality learning these discussions mostly do not build on one another so that a coherent representation of such learning is built up. There is therefore a need to consider further the characteristics of learning that are regarded as being of good quality. For this purpose we set out a framework based around six dimensions of good quality knowledge, namely, extent, well-foundedness, structure, complexity, generativity, and variety of representational format. In the final section of the chapter we advance arguments that point to the need to attend to the state of students’ and teachers’ knowledge about how to act, in strategic cognitive and metacognitive ways, in order to generate good quality knowledge representations.
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    IB middle years program (MYP): Student social-emotional well-being and school success practices
    (International Baccalaureate Organisation, 2014-04) Skrzypiec, Grace; Askell-Williams, Helen; Slee, Phillip T; Rudzinski, Adrian
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    Relationships between students' mental health and their perspectives of life at school
    (Emerald, 2015) Askell-Williams, Helen; Lawson, Mike Joseph
    Purpose This paper explores relationships between students’ self-reported mental health and their perspectives about life at school in metropolitan Adelaide, South Australia Design/methodology/approach The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and a purpose designed Living and Learning at School Questionnaire (LLSQ) were administered to 1715 early adolescents in school years 7, 8 and 9. Correspondence analysis, which is a perceptual mapping technique available in SPSS, was used to examine relationships between students’ SDQ subscale scores (emotional symptoms, hyperactivity, conduct problems, pro-social skills) and the LLSQ subscale scores (motivation, learning strategies, coping with schoolwork, bullying, numbers of friends, safety at school, and teacher intervention in bullying events). Findings The correspondence analysis produced a two-dimensional visual display (a perceptual map) showing that students’ abnormal, borderline and normal SDQ subscale scores were closely related to their low, medium and high LLSQ subscale scores, respectively. A clear Dimension (Factor) emerged, showing a progression from mental health difficulties to strengths, in close association with students’ reports about their school experiences. Research limitations/implications Caution should be exercised when using the results to interpret events in other contexts. The limitations of self-report methods must be considered. Practical implications The two-dimensional visual display provides a powerful tool for dissemination of the findings of this study about students’ perspectives for system-level and school-based personnel. This can inform the selection of intervention programs, such as strategies for self-regulation of emotions and learning behaviours, fostering friendships, and supporting academic achievement, that are related to positive mental health. Social implications This paper can inform school-level policies and practices, such as those relating to professional development to support teachers’ and students’ capabilities (for example, to manage and prevent bullying) and thus influence the nature of the school experiences that shape students’ perceptions. Originality/value This paper adds students’ perspectives to the emerging field concerned with designing programs for mental health promotion in schools.
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    Sustainable professional learning for early childhood educators: Lessons from an Australia-wide mental health promotion initiative
    (SAGE Publications, 2015-04) Askell-Williams, Helen; Murray-Harvey, Rosalind
    New policy initiatives, such as those concerned with promoting young children’s positive mental health, highlight the need for good quality professional education in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. However, although a wealth of literature exists from the school sector, little is known about professional education in ECEC settings. This paper presents an analysis of ECEC educators’ perspectives about their professional learning during an initiative to promote young children’s mental health in 111 ECEC centres in Australia. Questionnaires and feedback forms were collected from educators on four occasions over two years. In addition, program facilitators rated the quality of implementation of the initiative in each centre. Thematic analysis indicated that the professional education was instrumental in building ECEC educators’ knowledge about children’s social-emotional learning and mental health, increased educators’ self-efficacy for mental health promotion, and encouraged a more collegial and collaborative workplace. Hierarchical linear modelling supported the learning gains identified in the qualitative analysis, but showed that the effect sizes for positive change depended on the quality of program implementation. The findings highlight important synergies between opportunities for professional learning and workplaces that are conducive to transformation and renewal. Recommendations from participants for improvement included the need to ensure the relevance of content to local contexts, more extended learning opportunities, translation of unfamiliar language, and more accessible timetabling of professional learning sessions. Issues concerning the need to advocate for, and sustain, professional education in ECEC settings are discussed.
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    Exploring Three Measures of Student Wellbeing
    (Information Science Reference (an imprint of IGI Global), 2015) Skrzypiec, Grace; Askell-Williams, Helen; Slee, Phillip T
    There has been limited consensus on how young people's wellbeing should be measured (O'Hare & Gutierrez, 2012). One approach, suggested by Lau and Bradshaw (2010), is that people’s subjective judgments capture the essence of wellbeing. Following from Lau and Bradshaw’s approach, in this chapter the authors report on a study that sought young adolescents' subjective judgments using three different wellbeing instruments. A purposive sample of 1930 South Australian middle-school students aged 11-16 completed three different measures of wellbeing. Analysis of these instruments indicated that they all require some modification to make them better suited as measures of the subjective wellbeing of young people in the middle-school years. Using the three scales together, the study indicated that the majority (55%) of students were flourishing, a large proportion (39%) had moderate mental health, and a small proportion (about 6%) were languishing.
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    Changes in Students' Cognitive and Metacognitive Strategy Use over Five Years of Secondary Schooling
    (Information Science Reference (an imprint of IGI Global), 2015) Askell-Williams, Helen; Lawson, Mike Joseph
    As students progress through school, we expect that their knowledge about the various subject matters, such as biology or maths, becomes more extensive, well structured, and readily available for application in diverse contexts. This chapter reports the authors’ enquiry about whether students’ cognitive and metacognitive knowledge and strategies do grow during secondary school. Questionnaires were administered to students in three South Australian secondary schools in each of five consecutive years. Hierarchical linear modelling was used to investigate changes in students’ responses over time. Results showed little change in students’ reports of their cognitive and metacognitive strategy use. The disappointing growth trajectories suggest that cognitive and metacognitive strategies for learning are not subject to the explicit teaching and evaluation processes applied to other school subjects. Questions are raised about whether schools and teachers value and recognise the importance of cognitive and metacognitive strategies for good quality learning across subject domains.
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    "You Can't Have One without the Other" Transactions between Education and Wellbeing for Indigenous Peoples
    (Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health, 2007) Askell-Williams, Helen; Coughlan, Michael; Lawson, Mike Joseph; Lewis, Felicity-Ann; Murray-Harvey, Rosalind; O'Donnell, Kim Michelle; Peppard, Judith Louise; Slee, Phillip T; Tur, Simone Ulalka
    We start with a story from one of our authors that tells about the possibility of change. The need for change is highlighted by a short review of the dire situation in health and education for many Indigenous peoples. We argue firstly for a recognition of the importance of transactions, or reciprocal relations, among elements of complex systems such as education and health. We review existing literature on the education–health nexus and consider the applicability of extant research findings to the situations of Indigenous Australians. We then consider contemporary issues in education, such as constructivism and self-regulated learning, with a view to considering how these might inform recommendations for change. A number of areas where change could be effected are then discussed. The first of these involves re-conceptualisation of the multi-level system that influences outcomes in education and wellbeing. Change is also required in the theoretical perspectives used to inform the educational research agenda, in consideration of where, and with whom, educational efforts might be made. We consider how recent research on conceptual change might provoke new locations and imperatives for educational action. Finally, we recommend areas for future research such that ensuing practices are founded on good quality knowledge. The themes in Uncle Badger’s story are central to this paper. We do need to look after our country and the people in it. The urgent need to look after people is made very clear when we consider the statistics related to the health and education of Indigenous groups. We do need to work together, not only as individuals, but also as a social system. In addition, like both Kim and Uncle Badger in the above story, as a nation we need to be prepared to learn and to have the courage to change
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    Investigating the complex, dynamic and transactional nature of child-care students' and university access students' knowledge about learning
    (Australian Association for Research in Education Inc, 2014) Askell-Williams, Helen; Lawson, Mike Joseph
    Constructivist perspectives propose that learners build new knowledge upon the foundations of their existing knowledge. Learners bring their existing knowledge to new learning in topic domains such as mathematics and science. Learners also posse ss knowledge about learning itself. Theoretical frameworks that represent students' cognitive sche ma about learning, such as surface versus deep approaches to learning, mastery versus performance goals or hierarchies of conceptions of learning, have provided influential and parsimonious heuris tics for classifying students' cognitions about learning. Meanwhile, proponents of situated cognition have emphasised the ubiquitous influence of situations upon students' acquisition and representation of knowledge. In this paper we propose that a tension exists between theories that tend to ascribe a disposition, or type, to any individual (such as a "deep" learner, or "mastery" oriented st udent) and the variable influence of contexts upon students' cognitions about learning. If learning, and knowledge about learning, really is acquired in situation and applied in context, then we would predict differences in the manifestations of students' knowledge according to changes in context. To investigate our proposition, we conducted focussed interviews with child-care students and university access students about their knowledge about learning. We employed NUD*IST software and common-theme matrices to interrogate participants' responses. Our analysis suggests that students' knowledge about learning is extensiv e and dynamic across context and time, even, and especially, within the same course of instruction. By the students' accounts, poles of contemporary theoretical dichotomies (such as surface-deep, or mastery-performance) seem to operate in transaction according to contextual imperatives such as deadlines, interests, self-efficacy, task requirements and relevance. In addition, students appear to seek balanced transactions between knowledge that has been theoretically conceptualised in different ways, such as effort—ability self- theories and surface—deep approaches to learning. The students' accounts lead us to propose that dichotomous or stepwise hierarchical characterisations of students' knowledge may be useful fo r generating precise interventions for specific instructional situations. However, such characterisations are liable to misrepresent, in particular, to under-represent, the complexity and multi-dimensional nature of students' knowledge about learning. This seems especially to be the cas e if such characterisations are generalised beyond specific situations to suggest more rigid types, or dispositions, of individual learners that conform to a single dimension such as an approach, conception or self-theory.
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    Teacher Education Students' Knowledge About how Class Discussions Help Them to Learn
    (Australian Association for Research in Education Inc, 2002-11) Lawson, Mike Joseph; Askell-Williams, Helen; Murray-Harvey, Rosalind
    Self-regulatory perspectives of learning imply that students need to possess knowledge about 1) themselves as learners, 2) how to build effective knowledge structures, and 3) how to further develop and apply their knowledge. In a teacher education context we would hope that students would be able to explicitly articulate such knowledge, not only in relation to themselves as learners, but also as potential teachers of other learners. This paper describes one part of a study that sought to investigate pre-service teachers' knowledge about learning. We asked final year Bachelor of Education students to provide a short written answer to the question, "What happens in your university classes that helps you to learn." The students' most frequent response was, "Discussions." We then conducted follow up interviews where students elaborated upon their written responses. We created a framework for analysing students' responses based upon principles of classroom climate, motivation, self-regulation and psychological- and social-constructivism. We draw conclusions about 1) the value of discussions as a teaching and learning technique, 2) the quality of participants' knowledge about how discussions help them to learn, and 3) the implications of participants' knowledge about discussions for their future roles as teachers.
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    Identifying quality in teacher-education students' models of self-regulation processes in learning: A case study
    (Australian Association for Research in Education Inc, 2004) Lawson, Mike Joseph; Askell-Williams, Helen
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    Extending teacher education students' mental models of teaching and learning through Problem Based Learning
    (Australian Association for Research in Education Inc, 2005-11) Askell-Williams, Helen; Murray-Harvey, Rosalind; Lawson, Mike Joseph
    This paper reports student teachers’ reflections on changes in their mental models of teaching and learning following their experiences of a problem based learning (PBL) topic. Students develop robust mental models of teaching and learning during their school years. Mental models inform intentions and plans, which in turn inform actions. As such, teachers often teach as they were taught—possibly perpetuating practices that limit intellectual inquiry in classrooms. PBL was introduced to our Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) to challenge and extend students’ mental models about teaching and learning, with a view to influencing their prospective teaching actions. We created an analytical framework and identified key-word descriptors of change to guide categorisation of 105 students’ focussed written reflections on their PBL experiences. Results provide evidence that students do report changed mental models in areas such as, 1) the value of case studies for engaging with subject content, motivating learning and connecting theory with practice, 2) self-reflection and peer collaboration for cognitive and professional growth, and 3) PBL processes of inquiry for developing self-regulated learning practices.