Measuring Hope

Earlier in the year, I blogged about my action research on hope. Since then, I’ve refined my research question (and Lit Review) to ‘Does systematic integration of self-regulating processes into a year 12 Software Design & Dev class impact on student wellbeing?”

After many iterations of defining my construct, I settled on what I started off with…HOPE. It is one of ACARA’s dimensions for wellbeing and aligns strongly with my school’s aspiration to inspire global hope.

I also kept the notion of ‘active hope’ where hope is found in actions and belief that such actions would lead to improvements. It’s true that a huge element of this aligns with Bandura’s self-efficacy which helped with finding literature for the review and fleshing out my project. However, I also wanted to maintain the social aspect of hope that extended beyond self-efficacy.

This ‘extension’ was partially driven by the need to find something more easily observable and measure. It was also because the classroom is ultimately a social context and each student is a contributor, not merely a recipient of social influences. I think James Arvanitakis said it well in  From Despair to Hope – The Curiosity Lecture Series (available here),

…if openly shared and freely distributed, hope can spread throughout the community.

I did not set out to measure inspiring societal (or global) hope as such but one of my action research ‘interventions’ (if you will) was to have students act as peer models. That was a bit of a stretch for ‘freely’ but there was definite sharing and distribution of active hope.

I haven’t fully analysed my research data but it is likely that it will empirically support my observation that YES, integrating self-regulation processes does impact student wellbeing (hope) positively and negatively (the 2-tailed question was intentional). I imagine many teachers suspect as much but now I’ve got data to (hopefully) prove it, notwithstanding the risk of observer-expectancy effect and other risks to the validity of my meager social research attempt.

It would be premature to state a conclusion prior to data analysis but were I to generalise my learning so far, I daresay my teaching practice even when targeting academic achievement does impact student wellbeing. While it often seemed futile to measure hope, I am glad I’ve made this attempt.

 

Inspiring hope…I hope to do so

My school “hopes to inspire hope in others and be a source of hope in the future”. In other words, it seeks to inspire global hope.

I’ve been ruminating this since starting there last year. What is hope? How can we inspire global hope? What does it mean to inspire? Am I hopeful? Do I inspire? Do I inspire hope? Can I help my students inspire and be a source of hope?

I have a chance to answer some of these questions as part of an action research towards experienced teacher accreditation.

Action research is  a good way for me to be more systematic about how I gather and use data as I refine my teaching practice. I think John Spencer explains what it is very well in this video:

 

The focus of my action research is wellbeing, and in particular, fostering hope. Just as John said in the video, the research project started with a lit review. Defining terms was difficult; ditto for finding what data to collect and how. My lit review (PDF) pretty much documents my journey into defining what it means for me to promote hope, as a classroom teacher conducting an action research. Here’s an excerpt:

Hope is one of the wellbeing dimensions (ACARA, 2010). Hope is also a contextual word that implies optimism or positive mutability. Hope is also associated with grit, defined as passion and perseverance to pursue long-term goals (Duckworth, 2016) or higher-order goals students deem personally worthy of on-going effort (Shechtman et al., 2013). Thus, hope can be viewed as a ‘skill’ that can be learned and exercised with effort in the context or pursuit of valued goals.

Hope is not blind faith. Hope is found in actions. Actions create a better world; a preferred future – to quote from ACARA’s Digital Technologies curriculum. Actions build capacity and confidence on which optimism associated with ‘hope’ lies.

In a classroom, actions include performing positive self-regulation skills. Self-regulation (SR) skills are the skills students practice as they engage – or avoid – learning. Perhaps the SR skill most aligned with hope is self-efficacy – the contextual confidence in one’s ability.

In my action research project, I will be using Barry Zimmerman’s SR learning model which is an ongoing cyclical process of forethought, performance, and self-reflection….kinda like the action research model… kinda like the design process we use in the computing curriculum.

Barry Zimmerman's Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) model

Barry Zimmerman’s Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) model

I’m still in the planning phase of the action research. As mentioned in my lit review, I have to design my teaching and learning program to incorporate teaching SR skills (promoting wellbeing is integrated vs an adjunct to academic learning) – and then measure and analyse and evaluate. There is so much to do yet!

However, I am excited. I hope (ha!) that this action research project will see some growth in hope in my students.

I reckon hope might as well be my one word this year.