Exploring the influence of pet assisted activities on aggressive behaviour amongs grade R learners

Coetzee, Jani (2012-12)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Bibliography

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: As a grade R teacher in South Africa, the researcher was disturbed by the extent of aggressive behaviour amongst children (aged 4 years to 6 years). Other teachers involved with the same class were of the opinion that the aggressive behaviour had a detrimental effect on their instructional time and motivation. Schools, teachers and other support personnel of staff have developed many cognitive and social support programmes to encourage positive behaviour, including reducing aggressiveness. Some programmes are in individual format and others in group format. However, the problem with these types of support programmes is that they are hard to come by due to cost and lack of knowledge among personnel. A child's full development is influenced negatively when in a negative atmosphere or situation (which includes abuse, aggression or discouragement). During 2011, the researcher took her dog to visit her class informally. It started when the class was having a discussion on pets and the researcher wanted to show the class how to groom and take care of a pet dog. The school’s staff and the researcher noticed a calmer and friendlier atmosphere amongst the children after the visits. This positive experience led to reading related literature and the researcher found substantial recent literature that increased her interest in the subject. The literature review suggested that the positive effects of animals in classrooms and on children should be explored and shared with teachers and schools, hence this study. The question arose whether this method could possibly provide the type of support South African children need to become caring, empathic and understanding of the world around them and each other. This research study was undertaken to explore the influence of the visits of a dog on the learners’ aggressive behaviour and teachers' opinions, which were of great value. This qualitative study took place within an interpretive paradigm. A case study design was used, as the focus was on an in-depth explanation of how a dog influenced the aggressive behaviour in the grade R class as a single bounded system. The study took place over a period of eight successive weeks. The data collection methods employed were questionnaires to gather biographical data, individual semi-structured interviews and observation during free play. Data were analysed by means of content analysis. Research findings indicated a positive influence on the learners' aggressive behaviour after eight weeks of the P.A.T. (Pet Assisted Therapy) dog visits. Positive behaviour in general was also witnessed and, most importantly, the participating teachers were of the opinion that the class was easier to manage and more time could be spent on instruction. The participating teachers provided different perspectives as they were involved in the class in different ways. However, the conclusion was that the positive influence of PAA on the learners' aggressive behaviour was mainly due to how some individual learners were influenced, which changed the interaction among all the learners. It is recommended that further studies be done on the time available to teachers to address aggressive behaviour to achieve a long-term result compared to just solving the problem at the occurrence of aggressive behaviour, and how PAA influences the learners in their other microsystems as well.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die navorser, 'n graad R opvoeder, vind die intensiteit en die hoeveelheid van aggressiewe gedrag onder graad R leerders kommerwekkend. Ander onderwysers betrokke by dieselfde klas se opinie was dat die aggressiewe gedrag onder die leerders 'n uiters negatiewe impak op die opvoeding van die leerders het. Verskeie kognitiewe en sosiale ondersteunings- programme vir die aanmoediging van positiewe gedrag in die klaskamer is reeds deur opvoeders, skole en ondersteunende personeel ontwikkel. Die navorser is egter van mening dat die finansiële omstandighede van verskeie skole en die kennis van die onderwysers wat moontlik die strategieë moet implementeer, die gebruik van sulke programme beperk . Leerders wat in negatiewe opvoedingsomstandighede (wat misbruik, aggressiwiteit of ontmoediging insluit) geplaas is, word negatief beïnvloed. Die navorser het gedurende 2011 haar eie hond skool toe geneem om by die weeklikse tema oor 'diere' aan te sluit. Die doel was om aspekte van hoe 'n mens na jou hond omsien met die leerders te bespreek. Die skoolpersoneel en die navorser (as opvoeder) het opgelet dat 'n kalmer atmosfeer onder die leerders geheers het nadat die navorser se troeteldier die klas besoek het. Dit het daartoe gelei dat die navorser leeswerk oor die onderwerp onderneem het. Vele onlangse bevindinge wat die onderwerp nog meer interessant gemaak het, is opgespoor. Een van die klasse in die betrokke skool het aggressiewe gedrag onder die leerders ervaar wat die onderwyser se motivering om te onderrig negatief beïnvloed het. Dit het gelei tot die gevallestudie wat die gebruik van 'n hond in die klaskamer as 'n moontlike metode om Suid-Afrikaanse kinders te motiveer om ‘n gevoel van omgee, empatie en begrip van die wêreld om hulle en ander te ontwikkel. Die navorsing het die moontlike invloed van gestruktureerde besoeke deur 'n hond op die gevallestudieklas ondersoek. Omdat die aggressiewe gedrag ook deur die onderwysers ondervind word en dit hul opvoedingstaak affekteer, was hulle opinies van groot belang. Die kwalitatiewe studie is onder die interpretatiewe paradigma onderneem. 'n Gevallestudieformaat is gebruik en was daarop gerig om die invloed van die hond op die leerders se aggressiewe gedrag grondig te verstaan. Die studie het oor 'n tydperk van agt opeenvolgende weke plaasgevind. Kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetodologie is gebruik. Dit het ’n doelbewuste streekproef van deelnemers, vraelyste vir biografiese data, individuele semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude, observasies om die informasie wat uit die onderhoude verkry is, te ondersteun en inhoudsanalise vir die ontleding van die data (veldwerknotas) omvat. Die navorsingsbevindinge het ‘n afname in aggressiewe gedrag onder die leerders na die agt weke van die intervensie (hond se besoeke) getoon. Algemene positiewe gedrag is waargeneem en die belangrikste bevinding was dat die deelnemende onderwysers van mening was dat die klas meer hanteerbaar was en meer tyd tot hul beskikking vir die opvoeding van leerders toegelaat het. Die onderwysers kon verskeie perspektiewe uitlig aangesien elk op 'n ander manier by die klas betrokke was. Daar was 'n duidelike kommentaar dat PAA 'n invloed op individuele leerders uitgeoefen het en dit het die interaksie onder die leerders in die klas beïnvloed. Die navorser stel voor dat verdere studies onderneem word om te bepaal hoeveel tyd onderwysers benodig om 'n langdurige positiewe effek op leerders se aggressiewe gedrag te bewerkstellig, eerder as om telkens wanneer ‘n probleem opduik ‘n oplossing te vind wat moontlik nie op die lang duur effektief sal wees nie. Verder kan ondersoek ingestel word na hoe PAA die leerders se gedrag buite die klas beïnvloed.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71715
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