Developing a child centric approach to the assessment of children’s resilience
As part of our ongoing conversations around ‘Education and Child Welfare’, Forbes Hamilton outlines Appa Scotland’s work in developing a digital toolkit to objectively assess children’s resilience. APPA were exhibitors at our ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools’ conference earlier this month.
Assessing Children’s Resilience in a Digital Age
Children’s resilience has been the subject of a decade of research by one of the world’s leading authorities, Dr. Michael Ungar who is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has produced a validated set of questions for young adults/teenagers to answer and these are part of the digital solution which Appa Scotland has produced in the form of a mobile app called “APPA”.
As parents and teachers know, a child or young adult will not always confide in them when they are troubled. So, to prevent young people falling into a vacuum where they cannot access help or even talk about their issues, Appa Scotland has come up with a novel and creative solution, “APPA”. Instead of having to sit down with a parent or teacher, the young person can engage with an avatar through the mobile app. Our avatar called “Alex” will engage the young person in a conversation rather than what may be considered an interrogation by an adult! Importantly, the app also produces a baseline SHANARRI Report of the child’s current state i.e. a snapshot. The accompanying Action Plan which the teacher would produce can then be tracked by further assessment to review the progress made by the child in each of the SHANARRI factors.
Benefits of APPA
Teachers and Local Authorities:
- Child centric – Young people undertake the questions without intervention from the adults
- Consistency of results – the same validated set of questions are answered by all pupils
- Objective assessment – the assessment is based on a series of questions removing the concept of subjective “feelings”
- Quantitative Data – resilience and wellbeing is based not simply on qualitative data such as “how do you feel” but on quantitative data. Educators can see if their interventions are actually improving a child’s resilience
- Teacher Timesaving – the app automatically generates SHANARRI reports and is useable as part of an iterative process to record pupil progress through the year
- Strategic approach – monitoring and measurement of pupil progress throughout the year
- Low Cost – a cost effective way of generating SHANARRI reports, releasing time for teachers to work on Pupil Action Plans and monitor pupil progress across the school.
Children can be objectively assessed and caregivers be given access to their child’s Resilience Report. Each Report describes how well the child is performing on 8 different aspects of Wellbeing i.e. the “SHANARRI” Indicators.
Mental Health Professionals:
Receive your own personal summary of the young person’s issues through the initial assessment carried out by APPA and focus on the relevant prognosis. APPA also lets therapists monitor their client’s progress, identifying changes in children’s levels of resilience over time.
Our hope is that the assessment of children’s resilience now will indeed lead to “one small step towards a resilient generation” and prevent the mental health “time bomb” from exploding.
We would like to thank Perth Academy for being the first school in Scotland to trial APPA and initial feedback is very encouraging. Since Policy Hub Scotland’s ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools’ conference, held in Edinburgh, we have had incredibly positive meetings and are delighted to announce that trials for 140 pupils are being set up at the Gordons Schools (Huntly) and for 400 pupils at Mearns Academy (Laurencekirk). We are also awaiting decisions from independent schools in Glasgow and Edinburgh. More demonstrations of APPA are planned during the summer and into the 2016-2017 term. APPA is now downloadable in both iPhone and Android versions in the UK, Canada and Australia.
More information can be found on our website – https://www.myappa.it/