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Title: Children’s experiences of animals in school to support wellbeing: An exploration through relational ecology
Authors: Wilson, Monica May
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis explores children and young people’s (CYP’s) experiences of animals in school. It encompasses three chapters: a systematic literature review, a bridging document, and an empirical research project. The systematic literature review explores CYP’s and their supporting adults’ views of human animal interactions (HAIs) in relation to wellbeing, across a variety of settings. Meta ethnography, an interpretive qualitative synthesis approach, is employed to analyse six papers. Findings yield fourteen themes suggesting animals can offer a unique contribution to supporting CYP’s wellbeing, providing relational opportunities, acting as agents of change, providing physical, emotional, and psychological support, and supporting CYP to develop knowledge and skills in preparation for adulthood. The bridging document describes how the findings from the meta-ethnography link with, and inform, the empirical research project. The rationale for the thesis is presented alongside underpinning philosophical assumptions. Key ethical and welfare considerations are explored, including wider implications of the human-animal relationship. The empirical report explores primary school-aged children’s experiences of animals in school as part of wellbeing support. A qualitative approach is adopted. Thirteen individual semi structured interviews are transcribed and analysed using Thematic Analysis, adopting a hybrid approach to explore both inductive and deductive themes. A relational ecology lens is employed as an organisational framework, yielding ten themes under three overarching theories: deep ecology, developmental theory, and object relations theory and the holding environment. It is concluded that children perceive animals in school to be a helpful form of support for wellbeing. However, individual differences are acknowledged, and further research recommended. EPs are argued to be well placed to support schools to critically consider the incorporation of animals, and incorporate explorations of human-animal relationships as part of holistic assessments.
Description: DAppEdPsy Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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