Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

The Lions Quest Program in Turkey: Teachers' Views and Classroom Practices

Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

The Lions Quest Program in Turkey: Teachers' Views and Classroom Practices

Article excerpt

Evidence-based research on the impact of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools has shown many positive outcomes (Durlak et al., 2010; Greenberg et al., 2003; Payton et al., 2000). Programs available for teachers to develop SEL skills in children include Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS), I Can Problem Solve (ICPS), Lions Quest: Skills for Growing, The Incredible Years, and many others.

Although endeavors aimed towards opening a space for developing social and emotional skills in schools have increased in recent years (Berkowitz & Bier, 2005), some resistance to such initiatives is still both observed in schools and being reported by teachers (Baker et al., 2010; Domitrovich et al., 2008; Witt, 1986).

Witt (1986) pointed out that program effectiveness cannot be considered the only factor in teachers' decisions regarding the adoption of a specific program and its continuous implementation in their classrooms. Teachers also consider time and resources, the theoretical orientation of the intervention, and ecological intrusiveness. Bywater and Sharples (2012) also stated that selection of a well-evidenced program may not guarantee success; wide arrays of professional development support also need to be provided. Also significant are teacher hesitations, such as feeling inadequate to teach SEL, not seeing SEL as being within their job description, lack of time due to pressure of academic content, believing there is no payoff, and concerns about loss of classroom control (Domitrovich et al., 2008; Han & Weiss, 2005; Walker, 2004). In the Missing Piece report by CASEL (2013; 2015), 80% of the teachers indicated that they think SEL skills are important and 81% reported that they are interested in receiving additional SEL training. However, 81% also said that time is a big constraint to implementing SEL programs.

Reluctance of implementing SEL at schools is especially evident in Turkey. As a developing country, Turkey has a huge population of youngsters for whom educational opportunities are limited, depending on national examinations to get into schools. In the context of Turkish schools, one might expect that teaching SEL skills would become a necessity due to the high percentages of violence and incidents of aggression in schools (Bulut, 2008; Ozgur, Yorukoglu, & Baysan Arabaci, 2011). To date, momentum has been slow (Diken, Cavkaytar, Batu, Bozkurt, & Kurtyilmaz, 2011). Ocak and Arda (2014) reviewed three SEL programs implemented in Turkish schools and provided information on the content, aims, and implementation and evaluation processes, to help schools and teachers to select the program that best fit their needs. Teachers' theoretical knowledge and their comfort with and acceptability for programs are identified as part of a strong basis for quality implementation (Devaney, O'Brien, Resnik, Keister, &Weissberg, 2006).

A very limited number of SEL programs are available for teachers in Turkey. One of these, the Lions Quest Program, has proven to be an effective program targeting areas of most concern in Turkish schools: reduction of problem behaviors, increasing prosocial behaviors (Berkowitz & Bier, 2005), empowering adolescents to resist peer pressure (Eisen, Zellman, & Murray, 2003; Eisen, Zellman, Massett, & Murray, 2002; Foxcroft & Tsertsvadze, 2012), helping students to develop relationships, improve grades, and reduce dropout rates (Laird & Black, 1999). As an initial step in more widespread SEL program dissemination in Turkey, a preliminary study is needed to understand teachers' views and classroom practices relating to the Lions Quest Program in elementary schools in Turkey. By investigating programs such as Lions Quest by observing classrooms and asking teachers' opinions about the program, important issues can be better understood before any attempt is made to formally evaluate the program and go to scale.

The Lions Quest Program was started in 1975 in the USA and first funded by Lions Clubs International in 1984 (Lions Clubs International 2013a; 2013b). …

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