Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Monograph

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Education

Supervisor

Rodger, Susan

Abstract

Teachers have an important role in their student’s lives (Brunzell, Waters, & Stokes, 2015). It is important that pre-service teachers are provided with knowledge and skills to best support students that may be affected by trauma or systemic inequity, and to consider problem behaviour through an informed lens. Trauma and violence-informed care (TVIC) teaching practices are universally beneficial and necessary for students healing with the after effects of trauma and structural violence. In this program evaluation, 318 teacher candidates completed an online mental health literacy course including TVIC knowledge and skills. Participants’ attitudes related to trauma and their intended behavioural responses towards problem behaviour were examined before and after completion of the course. A repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance demonstrated a positive shift in attitudes and intended behavioural responses towards a more trauma and violence-informed lens. Implications for teacher education are discussed, and future areas of research are considered.

Summary for Lay Audience

Teachers play an important role in their student’s lives; however, inadequate preparation is provided to ensure that teachers can meet the needs of all students. It is important that pre-service teacher education students (i.e., teacher candidates) are provided with knowledge and skills to best support their students. This includes students that may be affected by trauma or various social inequities (i.e., structural violence), such as racism and poverty. Teachers may be better equipped to understand and effectively respond to problem classroom behaviour after gaining knowledge and skills informed by research in trauma and violence-informed care (TVIC). TVIC teaching practices are beneficial to all students, and particularly important for those students that have been exposed to trauma, ongoing stress, and/or structural violence.

In this study, 318 teacher candidates completed an online mental health literacy course, which aims to promote mentally healthy classrooms and to enhance teachers’ TVIC knowledge and skills. The study found that teacher candidates’ attitudes shifted in a positive direction after completion of the course. This demonstrates an improvement in their understanding of trauma-related symptoms, the impact of social inequity, and the underlying causes of problem behaviour of students. The study also found an improvement in the way that teachers intend to respond towards problem behaviour of students, which is through supportive student-teacher relationships characterized by caring, flexibility, and safety, rather than rule enforcement and punishment. These findings suggest that the mental health literacy course is an effective way to provide TVIC knowledge and skills to teacher candidates. Other implications of these results for teacher education will be discussed, and possible areas of future research will be considered.

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