Title page for ETD etd-06022011-161318

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Loots, Mathilda Christina
Email thilda.loots@gmail.com
URN etd-06022011-161318
Document Title Teachers’ implementation of an asset-based intervention for school-based psychosocial support
Degree PhD
Department Educational Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Prof I Eloff Co-Supervisor
Prof R Ferreira Co-Supervisor
Prof L Ebersoh Supervisor
  • positive psychology
  • protective resources
  • psychosocial support
  • resilience
  • school-community context
  • assets and resources
  • community
  • barriers
  • pastoral role of teachers
  • asset-based approach
Date 2011-04-12
Availability unrestricted
Against the background of various socio-economic barriers in many South African school-community contexts, I compared how teachers in four schools implemented an asset-based intervention aimed at school-based psychosocial support. The working assumption was that teachers could act as protective resources in implementing the asset-based approach (following their participation in STAR1) to promote psychosocial support in their school-community contexts.

The four schools were conveniently selected as information-rich cases to participate in the research study. The four cases comprised one informal settlement primary school in the Eastern Cape, two urban primary schools in Gauteng and one rural secondary school in Mpumalanga. Purposeful sampling was used to select ten participating teachers (n=40) in each school. Methodologically, the study followed a qualitative paradigm and a comparative case study design, implementing participatory rural appraisal (PRA) principles. The asset-based approach was used as theoretical framework. Multiple data gathering (focus groups, observation and intervention artefacts) and documentation procedures (verbatim transcripts, field notes, research journal and visual data) were implemented over a period of three years. Following constructivist grounded theory analysis, three main themes emerged: teachers using an asset-based approach for psychosocial support; teachers addressing barriers resourcefully; and teachers’ demonstrated asset-based competencies.

The findings of the current study confirm that schools as part of unique systems are interrelated in terms of networks that mobilise assets, irrespective of the context. Teachers experience and prioritise a) socio-economic barriers (HIV/AIDS, financial constraints due to poverty and unemployment, and child abuse) and b) stressors of teaching (workload and related time constraints, attrition of group members, low levels of parent involvement, as well as context-specific factors). Teachers’ identification of barriers is determined by school contexts. Across school contexts teachers identified a) internal assets in their classrooms, the school context and in their communities together with b) community resources (physical resources, natural and environmental resources, community organisations and institutions). In psychosocial support, teachers mobilised identified assets and resources to ameliorate the impact of barriers. Teachers therefore promoted resilience by means of psychosocial support. The characteristics of school-based psychosocial support include identifying assets, prioritising barriers, mobilising assets to ameliorate the presence of barriers and establishing systemic networks and partnerships. When providing psychosocial support, teachers demonstrated asset-based competencies (positive identity formation, group effectiveness skills and management skills) signified as internal protective resources.

By dynamically engaging in the challenges of their school-community contexts, teachers demonstrated self-determination (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2002; Ryan & Deci, 2000, 2002) In the process, teachers displayed and actualised asset-based competencies, which in turn fulfilled the underlying psychological needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy. When they implemented the asset-based approach, it seemed to enhance teachers’ sense of coherence (Antonovsky, 1987) as they viewed the existence of barriers as being comprehensible, manageable and meaningful. Teachers were able to address barriers at an intrapersonal and interpersonal level as well as by deploying management skills. The three levels on which teachers addressed barriers correlate with their asset-based competencies. Their asset-based competency of positive identity formation was utilised to address barriers on an intrapersonal level; their group effectiveness skills addressed barriers on an interpersonal level and their management skills were deployed to address barriers on a level of administrating barriers efficiently.

The study provides empirical evidence to broaden the current knowledge bases of the asset-based approach, resilience and school-based psychosocial support. The study contributes to the existing knowledge base of the asset-based approach by firstly highlighting social capital in school-community contexts as potential outcome of the implementation of the asset-based approach. Secondly, the study introduces asset-based competencies, as well as the dynamic relationship between these competencies and fundamental psychological needs (competence, relatedness and autonomy) as signified in self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2002; Ryan & Deci, 2000, 2002). Lastly, the study conjectures the interconnectedness between the asset-based approach and a sense of coherence, in the sense that implementation of the asset-based approach could result in enhanced eustress (Simmons & Nelson, 2005) and sense of coherence (Antonovsky, 1987, 1993) when faced with and addressing barriers.

Within the context of the existing knowledge base of resilience in schools and school-based psychosocial support, the findings suggest that resilience in schools could be promoted by teacher-driven psychosocial support initiatives. Firstly, the study signifies greater insight in teachers’ perspective on the potential assets and resources available in school-community contexts that could be mobilised for psychosocial support and the promotion of resilience. Secondly, the findings suggest empirical evidence that teachers (in a school context) can mobilise resources so that schools may serve as protective resources to promote resilience through school-based psychosocial support. Thirdly, the study contributes to new insight in possible barriers that teachers could encounter on a daily basis as well as the sort of psychosocial support that could be expected from similar school-based interventions. Lastly, the study provides insight into potential ways in which teachers can address barriers on an intrapersonal and interpersonal level and by deploying management skills.

© 2011 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Loots, MC 2011, Teachers’ implementation of an asset-based intervention for school-based psychosocial support, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-06022011-161318/ >


  Filename       Size       Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds) 
 28.8 Modem   56K Modem   ISDN (64 Kb)   ISDN (128 Kb)   Higher-speed Access 
  00front.pdf 332.72 Kb 00:01:32 00:00:47 00:00:41 00:00:20 00:00:01
  01chapter1.pdf 273.81 Kb 00:01:16 00:00:39 00:00:34 00:00:17 00:00:01
  02chapter2.pdf 427.90 Kb 00:01:58 00:01:01 00:00:53 00:00:26 00:00:02
  03chapter3.pdf 2.43 Mb 00:11:15 00:05:47 00:05:03 00:02:31 00:00:12
  04chapter4.pdf 2.36 Mb 00:10:54 00:05:36 00:04:54 00:02:27 00:00:12
  05chapter5.pdf 1.11 Mb 00:05:09 00:02:38 00:02:19 00:01:09 00:00:05
  06chapter6.pdf 1.59 Mb 00:07:22 00:03:47 00:03:18 00:01:39 00:00:08
  07chapter7.pdf 358.44 Kb 00:01:39 00:00:51 00:00:44 00:00:22 00:00:01
  08references.pdf 294.15 Kb 00:01:21 00:00:42 00:00:36 00:00:18 00:00:01
  09addenda.pdf 5.21 Mb 00:24:08 00:12:24 00:10:51 00:05:25 00:00:27
  Addendum B5 - Audiovisual Hartbeespoort Dam Seminar.AVI 28.82 Mb 02:13:25 01:08:37 01:00:02 00:30:01 00:02:33
  Video clip - School 1.avi 216.15 Mb 16:40:40 08:34:37 07:30:18 03:45:09 00:19:12
  Video clip - School 2.avi 16.09 Mb 01:14:29 00:38:18 00:33:31 00:16:45 00:01:25
  Video clip - School 3.AVI 192.88 Mb 14:52:57 07:39:14 06:41:49 03:20:54 00:17:08
  Video clip - School 4.AVI 269.08 Mb 20:45:44 10:40:39 09:20:34 04:40:17 00:23:55

Browse All Available ETDs by ( Author | Department )

If you have more questions or technical problems, please Contact UPeTD.