1. Tell us a bit more about yourself (organisation)?
We are three researchers from Massey University based on the Manawatu campus. Massey University prides itself on world-leading applied research, conducted in partnership with industries and the communities we serve. We are also a leading university for online learning in New Zealand.
The principal investigator’s research interests fall under the broad umbrella of Inclusive Education, Autism and Student engagement. Co-researcher Rachael Pond’s research area is in the area of children’s development and well-being, while Nicole Mincher’s research interests are around equity in education, systemic practices and student engagement
2. What are you doing? Or What is the primary focus of your research?
This qualitative project will collect data from Years 4-8 teachers and students in 10 primary and intermediate schools primarily from Manawatū/Horowhenua, to understand teachers and their students’ perspectives of their well-being during lockdown, at the time of returning to school after lockdown and the present time, which is still quite fluid and uncertain in terms of the pandemic.
3. What inspired you to do what you’re doing?
As a group we have a focus on wellbeing of teachers as a workforce, and the resulting wellbeing of children. Covid-19 resulted in an unprecedented lockdown for our country and is still having on-going impacts for schools and whānau.
We want to find out about what lockdown(s), and return to school was like for New Zealand teachers and students. We feel that understanding their experiences will highlight ways to support their wellbeing of this key workforce, and therefore our tamariki and whānau.
4. Why did you choose to focus on this topic?
While studies on Covid-19 mainly focus on children’s experiences, it is critical to understand both teacher's and students’ perceptions as they are mutually interdependent. We want to gain their perspectives on the kinds of support they need in the short and longer term for their holistic well-being, especially as the pandemic continues with future lockdown levels remaining uncertain.
5. What made you decide to apply for an HealthCarePlus Grant for Good? (where did you hear about it)
The lead researcher has been a member with the original parent body of EBS Health care since 1993. She was informed of the Community grant via the Insurance membership list.
Knowing that the organisation had the reputation for having genuine care for people and society, the well-being of the teaching work force we felt would be an area of interest for HealthCarePlus.
6. How was your experience in Appling for the grant?
Our experiences were extremely positive. The line of communication was very prompt. Any questions we had during the EOI or during the time of submitting the final proposal were promptly replied. Minor technical issues were also sorted out immediately. It was a pleasure to work with a caring and responsive funding body.
7. How has funding from HealthCarePlus helped? (to advance your research)?
Well-being in its broad sense falls under the research strands of all three project members. While Rachael Pond brings a counselling and developmental lens to the understanding of well-being, Vijaya and Nicole view well-being from a Psychological as well as from an Equity perspective. This project aligns well with our research trajectory which collectively focuses on well-being as a critical aspect of teaching and learning in schools.
8. What does this grant mean to you?
In New Zealand, funding for topical issues in education is hard to come by.
So, we are immensely grateful for HealthCarePlus to have considered our application worthy of awarding the grant and showing their support and interest for the topic.
9. What would you say to others considering but hesitant in applying for a grant?
We would strongly recommend they apply as we have found the process to be straightforward and supportive.
10. What advice would you give to future Grants for Good applicants?
If there is a relevant topic that anyone thinks falls within the parameters of the funding and you have a strong rationale to investigate it, then they should not hesitate to apply. The reciprocity and responsiveness of HealthCarePlus project staff makes the process less daunting.
11. What are you hoping to achieve?
We envisage that the study will provide some useful evidence that will be helpful to the likes of the Ministry of Education and Teachers’ Council to start a conversation around policy and practices for supporting teachers and students’ well-being, which is increasingly a focus in the field of education.
12. In what way will your project/course help make a positive impact on others?
Following the outbreak of the pandemic, teachers’ voices have been heard less frequently on matters around well-being, both in New Zealand and Internationally. Disseminating the findings from this project can make teachers feel their voices have been heard. Secondly, the process of participating in the study can be cathartic for teachers, who have had to make significant adaptations to their pedagogy and be available for longer hours to accommodate student learning and well-being.
The students’ perspective will provide an insight into their coping mechanisms and resilience, and their vulnerabilities and needs, which can be very useful for developing support structures in the face of future uncertainty.
If you are interested and want to know more this year's Grants for Good and how to apply for one then click here.