University of Melbourne Evaluation
Learn about the key findings discovered through the school program and curriculum evaluation
The Resilience Project’s core-focus has been, and always will be, the health and wellbeing of students.
In our commitment to provide schools with evidence-based programs that positively impact mental health, we commissioned The University of Melbourne to evaluate our our school partnership program.
This independent piece of work was commissioned by The Resilience Project to better understand the impact of the current program and identify ways to continually build and improve moving forward.
From January through to December 2019, the evaluation was conducted with six primary schools implementing the program and six schools that were not implementing the program (used for comparison data). The evaluation involved student surveys, interviews and focus groups, as well as interviews with teachers and parents. The research specifically looked at immediate and maintained changes in behaviours, feelings and attitudes, with relation to the use of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness strategies.
The evaluation concluded that the benefits arose from both the program content and the style of delivery. In general, the program provided variety which helped children engage with lessons and each other.
The evaluation demonstrated evidence of:
Significant increase in children's use of daily gratitude strategies and their sense of gratitude.
Interviews and focus groups suggested that the program had targeted benefits as well, in building:
Confidence and self esteem.
Knowledge and ability to express emotions.
Relationships at school and home.
More supportive classroom environments.
When asked about their experience of the program, some students reported:
- Noticing positive changes in their peers.
- Feeling more confident to share in class.
- Enjoying the content and the style of delivery.
- Liking the fact that there were no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.
- Finding it easier to meaningfully connect with others.
For many schools, the program empowered the whole school community to proactively support students and contribute positively to building their social and emotional wellbeing.
The evaluation also provided great insights into how the program could be further strengthened. We have already implemented several improvements and will continue to develop our programs in response to the findings and feedback.
- This provided further support for teachers with best practice implementation of the program.
- Developed and tailored to the wellbeing leaders responsible for driving the program in schools.
- Provided examples of small daily reflections, questions and activities to complement the work completed in the lessons.
- Used to embed the language and practise of GEM in everyday school life.
- Added space for daily GEM practise and reflection.
- Embedded GEM language and practises in other core curriculum lessons (eg. gratitude in Maths, kindness in English).
- Provided for teachers to enhance curriculum delivery.
- A new digital resource hub for parents.
- These provided greater accessibility to strategies which better supported children.
- Incorporated regularly in student lessons.
- Filled with practical ideas and activities to further support parents with GEM.
Areas for further development
- Build further teacher capacity to deliver the emotional literacy and mindfulness components of the program.
- Work with schools to incorporate GEM principles into the wider school behaviour management policies.
- Create communities of practise among The Resilience Project schools.
- Work with schools in a holistic approach to student wellbeing, by mapping the TRP program with other school programs to identify how they can best complement one another and align to the curriculum. This intends to build on the recent success of undertaking this process with the DET Resilience Rights and Respectful Relationships program.
How was the evaluation conducted?
A mixed-methods evaluation was conducted in 2019 to examine the impacts and outcomes of The Resilience Project in the school context, focussing on:
- How the program is implemented and experienced within the school community
- Impact of the program on the attitudes, feelings and behaviours of all school community stakeholders (students, teachers and parents/ carers)
- Whether students with different needs respond differently to the program.
The methods included pre and post surveys to measure change over time. The student results were compared to students from non-participating schools, to ensure the changes noted could be attributed to the program and not just from student maturation. There were also several parent/carer interviews, teacher interviews, student focus groups and student case studies, in an effort to gain deeper insights into the nature of the program and its impact.
This research was conducted by researchers from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at The University of Melbourne. The research team includes Professor Lisa Gibbs, Dr Lauren Carpenter, Dr Elena Swift, Ms Hannah Morrice and Dr Karen Block. Additional investigators providing expert advice included Professor Nicola Reavley, Dr Rebecca Armstrong, Professor Andrew Mackinnon, Ms Janette Cook, Mr Derek McCormack, Professor Lou Harms and Mr Jason Gaffee.
The University of Melbourne recruitment and data collection team included: Dr Anna Barrett, Ms Kathryn Young, Dr Dakhina Mitra, Ms Kate Burke, and Ms Molly Harrington.
What contribution will this make?
Health promotion projects typically benefit those who are already doing well, and assists them to do even better. Resilience promotion is particularly difficult to measure, given how many factors influence a persons resilience, and the improvements are often only realised as they face into future adversity. However, programs like this one, that are found to be proactively assisting students at risk are extremely important in a time of escalating youth mental health issues.
Want to learn more about the evaluation? Please get in touch.
Learn more about the findings in this printable PDF.
KEY FINDINGS - EXTENDED VERSION
For more detail on the outcomes of the evaluation, download this PDF.