Thesis Database

We have developed the following database of research theses on bullying from all academic institutions in the UK and Ireland. The aim of this database is to assist those who are interested in the field of bullying and want to see what research has already been done. We have attempted to ensure that we have included all relevant theses here; but if there is an omission please let us know by emailing

The database is here for information purposes. Those who want access to the texts of the theses need to contact the author, the relevant institution, or both.

Experiences of workplace bullying from the perspectives of trainee clinical psychologists: A qualitative study
Brown, Lan Rachel
University of Hertfordshire

Research has identified that workplace bullying is a significant problem within healthcare, with healthcare trainees at particular risk. However, there are no studies of workplace bullying within clinical psychology or of trainee clinical psychologists. The aim of the current study was to explore the experiences of workplace bullying from the perspectives of trainee clinical psychologists. Fourteen trainee clinical psychologists were recruited from UK universities and participated in semi-structured telephone interviews. Data was analysed using thematic analysis within a critical realist epistemology. The analysis generated four main themes: workplace bullying ‘activating threat responses’, the process of trainee clinical psychologists ‘making sense of bullying’, ‘difficulties navigating power within the system’ when experiencing and reporting bullying, and ‘finding safety and support’ within and outside of work contexts. The results are considered in relation to existing research, as well as Compassion Focussed Therapy theory and the Power Threat Meaning framework. Clinical implications are recommended at an individual level, within the profession of clinical psychology and for the wider healthcare system.

The exploration of the relationship between cyber-sexual harassment and psychological difficulties in women
Iroegbu, Marvin
University of Liverpool

Social media and communication technology has completely transformed the way that individuals, communities and organizations share and create information. The interactivity, accessibility and usability of social media in particular has made it an extremely popular utility. Political campaigns, celebrity promotions and news disseminations have utilised social media to share important information and raise the awareness of key social issues. Despite this, social media and communication technology also has a great deal of potential to do harm. For example, in 2013, Reddit admitted that their platform had contributed to online witch hunts when groups of users had wrongly named people as suspects in the Boston bombing (Messing & Westwood, 2012). The ease at which individuals can share content also poses risks, with a large potential for the sharing of undesirable material. A survey of 10,000 European children between the ages of 9 and 16 years, reported that 40% of children expressed shock and disgust after being sent violent or pornographic content (Livingstone, Kirwil, Ponte, & Staksrud, 2013). Social media can also contribute to acts of cyberbullying, stalking, and online harassment (Kwan & Skoric, 2013); estimates suggest that 10-40% of youth are victims of cyberbullying (Kowalski, Giumetti, Schroeder, & Lattanner, 2014), and 40% of those who cyberbully report they do so for fun (Raskausas & Stoltz, 2007; Chou & Edge, 2012). Campaigners have called for greater guidance concerning the way communication technology is used, with calls for stricter legislation (NSPCC, 2017). However, at present there is limited research exploring the association between cybervictimization and mental health, particularly in adults. Cybervictimization experiences have many different components. This thesis aims to further explore this and add to the existing evidence base, with a particular focus on cyber harassment of a sexual nature. This review will consist of two chapters. The first chapter will be a systematic review, aimed at exploring the psychological impact of all forms of cybervictimization in adults. The second chapter will specifically explore the effects of cybersexual harassment, with a view to better understanding its associations with anxiety, depression, body image, and trauma.

Adolescent Social Media Use and Well-Being
Shankleman, Michael
Canterbury Christ Church University

Section A: Presents a thematic synthesis and appraisal of literature, using a systematic search methodology of qualitative research on the views and experiences of adolescents of social media and well-being. The synthesis revealed four themes, each with positive and negative sides: connections, identity, learning and emotions. Each theme is explored and related to theoretical and extant literature. Clinical implications are provided around each theme, describing ideas of how to work positively with adolescents and social media, while negotiating potential drawbacks. Research recommendations are made concerning extrapolating the factors discussed by adolescents and how to enhance research quality in the area. Section B: Presents a cross-sectional and longitudinal study of the relationship between social media and well-being, in a sample of 497 UK adolescents. Several stress and well-being hypotheses are tested, including the moderating roles of gender and self-esteem that is contingent on friendship quality, within a diathesis-stress model. Results show friendship contingent self-esteem to be significantly related to social media investment, and increased stress to significantly influence well-being change. Findings are discussed in terms of the link between contingent self-esteem and problematic social media investment, stress and well-being. Limitations are considered, and implications for future research and practice are provided.


“Don’t treat autistic people like they’re a problem, because we’re not!”: An exploration of what underpins the relationship between masking and mental health for autistic teenagers
Chapman, Louise
University College London

Autistic people have described masking, or ‘camouflaging’, parts of the self in order to avoid repeated bullying, discrimination, social rejection and in order to meet neuro-normative social expectations. This thesis explores the relationship between autistic people’s experiences of masking and mental health. Part 1 is a conceptual introduction to autism, mental health and masking. Explanations for the increased prevalence of mental health difficulties for autistic people are explored. Masking is identified as a potential factor mediating this relationship. The review discusses different ways of conceptualising masking and explores the drivers and consequences of masking for autistic people. The review concludes with a summary of existing research into the relationship between masking and mental health difficulties. Part 2 is a qualitative study seeking to understand autistic teenager’s experiences of masking and how this relates to their mental health. Semi structured interviews were conducted with 20 autistic teenagers and transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Bidirectional relationships between masking and negative mental health related factors, and conversely between authenticity and positive mental health related factors, were described. Both processes were driven by social and environmental factors. The findings support a broader conceptualisation of masking and have implications for diagnostic and therapeutic clinical services. Part 3 is a critical appraisal of the research process. Personal reflexivity is used to consider the impact of the researcher’s perspective on the research. Introspection is used to identify broader theoretical perspectives to inform system-level implications of the research. Reflections on the essentiality of co-production are also presented.

Factors Causing Stress Among the Employees in the Apparel Factories in Sri Lanka, Its Impact and Possible Interventions
Jayaratne, Weerakoon Mudiyanselage
University of Liverpool

This participatory action research (PAR) project explored the factors causing stress in the apparel industry of Sri Lanka, its impact and the coping methodologies adopted by the workers. The PAR team was made of 25 voluntary workers from the apparel industry of Sri Lanka. During the group discussions held, the possible causes for stress, coping strategies used and implications of stress on job satisfaction and intention to leave were discussed, debated, and critiqued. The research used a modified version of the Occupational Stress Indicator (Cooper et al., 1998) and Pressure Management Indicator (PMI) developed by Williams and Cooper (1996) to collect stress related information from 155 workers from different apparel factories. Financial difficulties, abusive supervision and workplace incivility, workload were identified as the main factors causing stress in the apparel industry. The researcher’s role as an insider as well as an outsider to the community and shifting positions from an outside consultant/researcher to an active role were important aspects of the data interpretation. The importance attributed to the participants lived experience, focus on social justice and emancipation were inherent characteristics of PAR. Complementary behaviour and religious support were the categories of most commonly used coping strategies by the factory workers. The relationship with others and the recognition were important factors predicting the job satisfaction. Only the ‘workload’ factor could predict intention to leave among apparel factory workers. The implications of the research suggest the importance in the culture and local context on causes and coping strategies on stress. It added abusive supervision and workplace incivility as a key factor causing stress. The impact of the culture was evident as religious support and complementary behaviour were the main categories of coping strategies.


Leadership and its contribution towards employee retention within the Irish service sector
Teehan, Linda
National College of Ireland

Purpose – This research will examine the relationship between leadership and employee retention. It will examine the styles of leadership currently used within the Irish service sector. It will then determine if the managers consciously work on retaining staff.

Methodology – A qualitative research approach was used in the form of interviews of leaders in several Irish companies. The leaders range from middle to top management positions with various levels of experience. Previous research has often asked the employees about their managers while this paper bridges the research gap by examining the leaders themselves. Themes were then examined to recognise if there are any patterns present within the current leadership style.

Findings –The findings of this paper reveal that the leaders perceived that they had effective styles that proved to have a positive effect on employee retention. Also uncovered was that HR’s presence in Irish companies is disconnected, either there was not a department, or the leaders discussed remaining extremely separate. Three leaders admitted to not consciously working on retention as they believed it was not within their responsibility.

Practical implications – The paper brings to light that organisations need to examine how managers should be supported by the HR department, and how retention should be tackled by both parties for the good of the companies.

Research Limitations – Time constraints due to a worldwide pandemic. Covid-19 restraints as employees were now working from home. The normal environment in which the premise of the thesis was embedded was altered. Further to this, the restrictions imposed for Public Health made it difficult to research libraries as they were closed. Overall, it limited the sources from which data could possibly be harvested from. Limited participants could be accessed through the medium of a phone interview.

Originality/value – Expanding on linking employee retention with (in) effective leadership from the perspective of the managers.

Keywords – Retention, leadership, management, job stress, job satisfaction, Irish workplace, trust, communication

Understanding young people’s experiences and perceptions of relational bullying: A mixed methods study
Chester, Kayleigh Louise
University of Hertfordshire

Aim: This research sought to understand the experience and perception of relational bullying among young people in England. Background: Bullying among young people has been widely acknowledged as a public health concern. Bullying behaviours can be categorised as physical, verbal, relational and cyber. Relational bullying causes harm through the systematic manipulation and damage of peer relationships and may include behaviours such as rumour spreading and social exclusion. Evidence indicates relational bullying can be detrimental for young people’s wellbeing, but it is often considered to be less harmful than other forms of bullying. Wider perceptions among adults and young people suggest these behaviours are commonly not defined as bullying, particularly in a UK context. Further, relational bullying has traditionally been perceived as a female form of aggression. The way in which relational bullying is perceived is likely to influence detection and intervention efforts; considering the potential negative outcomes for young people, relational bullying warranted further exploration from the perspective of young people themselves. The social-ecological theory has been applied within the study of bullying as it acknowledges the social context in which these behaviours happen; the social-ecological theory may be particularly pertinent to the study of relational bullying which often occurs among friendship groups.

Methods: The social-ecological theory was adopted as a guiding theoretical framework, positioning young people central in the research. A sequential mixed methods approach was employed, with the quantitative methodology playing a dominant role. Secondary analysis of data from 5335 young people (aged 11, 13 and 15 years old) who participated in the 2014 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in England was undertaken. Descriptive statistics established the prevalence and demographic picture of relational bullying. A series of three multilevel regression models examined the association between relational bullying and three health and wellbeing outcomes: general self-rated health, health related quality of life (HRQL) and life satisfaction. A fourth multilevel regression model identified factors from the ecologies of young people which helped them to successfully navigate relational bullying. The quantitative findings informed 11 face-to-face interviews with young people (aged 12-18 years), providing a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into young people’s perspective of relational bullying and the factors which they perceived as influencing the navigation of relational bullying.

Results: The quantitative analysis identified 16.6% of the young people (13.7% of boys and 19.7% of girls) had experienced relational bullying in the ‘past couple of months’ prior to the survey. Multilevel regression models identified a significant association between experiencing relational bullying and reporting poorer health and wellbeing outcomes, whilst controlling for other forms of bullying and demographic variables. Possessing positive attributes in relation to body image, general self-efficacy, family activities and family support significantly increased the odds of reporting improved wellbeing amongst those who experienced weekly relational bullying. Thematic analysis of qualitative data resonated with the quantitative findings, also illustrating the harmful effects of relational bullying and identifying internal (e.g., personal wellbeing) and external (e.g., the family) resources which young people perceived as supporting them through relational bullying. Further, the qualitative findings provided insight into the perspectives and experiences of young people, including the role of social media and friends in relational bullying. Both the quantitative and qualitative findings were united in order to inform the development of the Young People’s Relational Bullying model, which provides a visual illustration of how young people experience and perceive this form of bullying.

Conclusions: Relational bullying is significantly associated with the health and wellbeing of young people. Bullying interventions, and those which help enable young people to manage friendships and peer relationships successfully, are likely to have considerable reach in terms of improving the health of young people. The results challenge the assumption of relational bullying as a female problem, with both boys and girls reporting equal levels of distress from relational bullying. The research identifies factors from the young person’s perspective which may help and hinder the navigation of relational bullying – the family plays a crucial role in mitigating the negative effects, supported by both the quantitative and qualitative results. The Young People’s Relational Bullying model provides a framework for understanding relational bullying, with a focus on the young person’s perspective. Considering wider inconsistent understandings of relational bullying it was important to recognise how young people themselves experience these behaviours. While this study specifically focused on relational bullying, the results are likely to have relevance to other forms of bullying.

Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms
Kwong, Alex Siu Fung
University of Bristol

Depression is a complex mental health disorder, predicted to be the highest global burden of disease by 2030. Research has examined the antecedents of adolescent depression in order to limit and prevent depression from occurring. However, depression during this phase of development is multifactorial and variability in depression is characterised by important features such as the age of onset, chronicity and severity. Identifying these features, and how depressive mood changes across time along with potential risk factors may aid in our understanding of the nature of adolescent depression and help develop new interventions and treatments.

This thesis uses longitudinal methods to explore the nature of trajectories of depressive symptoms and examine how genetic and early environmental risk factors contribute to trajectories of depressive symptoms across adolescence and young adulthood in a UK population based cohort, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Using group-based and multilevel frameworks, trajectories of depressive symptoms are estimated across adolescence and then various risk factors are explored to investigate how these trajectories change across time.

Genetic risk for depression, childhood bullying, female sex and

childhood trauma are all associated with less favourable trajectories of depressive symptoms. Importantly, several risk factors are associated with changes in depression across time, and not just at certain stages of development. This implies they have lasting effects and that it may be possible to identify when particular risk factors are having their greatest effect on later depression.

This work provides further evidence that depressive symptoms

across adolescence to young adulthood are complex and associated with both genetic and environmental contributions. Examining depressive symptoms across time within a longitudinal framework provides a powerful opportunity to examine the nature of depression in more detail than in previous research.

Resilence in Schools for Pupils with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
Townsend, Jessica C.
Canterbury Christ Church University

Section A: This section reviews literature regarding the validation of existing resilience measures within Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) populations. These groups are at enhanced risk of worse outcomes later in life; therefore resilience-enhancement is of particular importance. Despite their use within the literature, it is unclear whether mainstream resiliency measures are applicable within SEND groups. Nine validation papers were identified, largely demonstrating utility of measures with SEND populations. However, a number of methodological limitations mean firm conclusions cannot be drawn. Several methodological limitations are considered, along with discussions of the challenges and complexities of research in this area. Section B: This research investigated perspectives from stakeholders of specialist schools for students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties on defining factors of resilience and the mechanisms involved in its promotion. A three- round Delphi survey was used to explore areas of consensus and divergence between students, carers, care staff and education staff across two schools. Overall, 153 stakeholders participated. Results indicated consensus across a number of statements covering both areas. These spanned a number of systemic levels, offering support for the socio-ecological model of resilience. Clinical and research implications are discussed.

“A Happy and Caring School”: Capturing the Voices of Dyslexic and Non-dyslexic Learners about Their Ideal and Actual School Experiences
Chua, Yong En Beatrice
University College London

The increase in the number of students with special educational needs (SEN) studying in mainstream schools in Singapore has led to growing development in inclusive education practices. However, there are few studies that have explored these students’ views about their schooling experiences and the barriers and support that they experience. This present study sought to explore the perspectives of dyslexic learners, their parents and educators on their views on an ideal school environment and actual mainstream primary school experiences. It was hoped that by finding discrepancies between the ideal and actual, the study would raise gaps in the provision and promote positive change in students’ mainstream school experience. Six pairs of dyslexic child-parent dyads, seven pairs of non-dyslexic child-parent dyads and 5 educators who have been in the support of dyslexic individuals in mainstream settings were recruited. All learners had either completed primary education or were in their last few months of completing primary school at the time of research. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using thematic analysis. The findings revealed that dyslexic learners had a greater emphasis on their physiological and safety needs to be met. In contrast, non-dyslexic learners placed a greater focus on developing mastery and gaining in-depth knowledge, while considering the physical aesthetic needs of the learning environment. Dyslexic learners sought to have schools that offered a safe and supportive environment where there are no bullies. Their parents sought for provisions that would build their confidence and school engagement. Dyslexic learners who were interviewed generally had a mixed school experience. Regardless of SEN, all dyslexic and non-dyslexic learners faced the cultural pressure to excel academically, and some experienced bullying and peer difficulties. While all learners found a significant adult at school, the overall support offered varied within and across school and was limited. As stressed by all participants (dyslexic and non-dyslexic) groups, joint efforts by parents, teachers, school leaders, the education system and the wider society is needed to improve inclusion and school experience for all learners. Implications for schools and educational psychologist practice, and recommendations for future research are considered.

Young people’s understandings of youth suicide: A qualitative study
Labor, Melanie Nicole
Trinity College Dublin

In Ireland, youth suicide is a serious public health issue accounting for approximately thirty percent of all deaths among young people aged between 15 and 24 years old. Youth suicide has received considerable attention from academics, policy makers and campaigners. Nonetheless, the phenomenon has commonly been approached from a singular medicalized perspective. By contrast, the youth perspective has received far less attention. Hence, this was a poorly understood topic. This study asked: what does youth suicide mean to young people in Ireland? The present study aims to gain a better understanding of the meanings of youth suicide, seeking to build a conceptual framework. This will be achieved by exploring participants’ individual understandings of suicide in relation to local community discourses, norms, values, and beliefs. This study makes an original contribution to suicidology by exploring the phenomenon from the youth perspective leading to greater conceptual clarity. This research offers an alternative reading of suicidality in addition to the dominant bio-psycho-medical model encouraging new approaches to suicide prevention. This study views suicide as a multifactorial phenomenon and that young people’s constructions of suicide are subjective. This research is underpinned by a symbolic interactionist theoretical perspective which asserts that meanings are socially constructed through one’s interactions with social phenomena. Hence, the meanings young people attribute to youth suicide are shaped by local norms, values and beliefs. This is a constructivist grounded theory study. Data were generated through qualitative interviews with 25 young men and women between 18 and 22 years old who lived in Dublin. Participants were selected based on the criteria that they were neither bereaved by suicide nor experienced suicidal ideation within the twelve months prior to the interview. Data was analysed simultaneously and iteratively. The study resulted in a conceptual framework through initial, focussed and theoretical coding consisting of five core categories: i) Perceptions of suicide; ii) Stigmatisation of suicidality; iii) Problems associated with suicide; iv) Explanations of suicide; and v) Help-seeking behaviour: barriers and facilitators. These categories are underpinned – primarily – by concepts of stigma and shame, as well as traditional understandings of gender.

‘I can breathe, finally’: pasts, presents and (imagined) futures of working-class young women and girls engaged in beauty education
Walters, Hannah
University of Glasgow

This thesis examines the social and educational experiences of working-class young women and girls engaged in vocational beauty education in the West of Scotland, with research taking place at three further education colleges. Through qualitative interviews with staff and students, supplemented with classroom observations, the pasts, presents and (imagined) futures of working-class girls are explored.

Taking a feminist-Bourdieusian theoretical approach, the school experiences of working-class girls are identified as a central driver for economic and educational inequalities later in life, with school having been experienced as a space of ‘networks of violence’ relating to fights, bullying and complicated, often hostile, relationships. These inequalities include the structuring of post-compulsory educational pathways which are highly gendered and classed, intergenerationally reproducing working-class women’s disadvantage. At the same time, and contrary to the ways in which vocational education tends to be criticised from both skills-based and feminist perspectives, the thesis (re-)examines beauty education in terms of valuable opportunities for social capital, and ‘use-value’, highlighting the creative, meaningful aspects of beauty education for working-class girls. Finally, participants’ imagined futures are examined. In particular, it is argued that uncertainty represents a key theme of discussions around imagined futures, which manifests as curbed ambitions based on current economic positions and class- and gender-informed plausibility structures. This final findings chapter also examines both the enduring power of the local habitus, as well as its evolution and reconfiguration, through participants’ narratives of aspirations, resistance and meaningful work.

In doing so, the thesis mobilises Bourdieusian concepts of violence (through the application of ‘networks of violence’); habitus and dialectical confrontation; and capital, as a means by which to explore working-class girls’ educational and social experiences, as well as their imagined futures and what structures these. In particular, it will be argued that the local (working-class, feminine) habitus of the participants of this study was in conflict with the institutional habitus of the school, yet aligned well with the institutional habitus at work in beauty learning spaces. The interplay of participants’ local habitus and its evolution is then explored in terms of how this tension impacts imagined futures for working-class girls.

Overall, this thesis contributes to contemporary discussions regarding the function of both class and gender in informing inequalities at work under late modernity, including the structuring of post-16 educational options, and transitions to work for young people. It also contributes to theoretical debates around the application of the ‘institutional habitus’, widening these discussions to include empirically-informed notions of institutional and local habitus alignment. Finally, and building on the work of feminist Bourdieusian scholars, this project contributes empirical data to theoretical discussions of value, in particular the notion of ‘use- value’ and its function for working-class young women and girls.

Transition to Clinical Practice
Coakley, Niamh
University College Cork

Background: According to extensive international research, medical graduates continue to face significant challenges as they transition from student to doctor. Contributory factors include issues with preparedness, support, workplace interactions and challenges to their health and wellbeing. While research to date, in the form of attitudinal information, and common qualitative themes, has afforded us some insight into this formative period, a contemporaneous exploration of the lived experience of transition to practice is lacking. To improve work readiness and ease the transition, focused interventions have been designed and implemented; however, an overview of the research activity into these interventions is also lacking. My thesis aims to address these gaps by achieving a deeper understanding and appreciation of the experience of the first year of practice, by exploring the lived experience of anticipation of practice, the experience over the first year and the experience of intra-professional mistreatment. I will also describe the evidence for interventions to support these doctors.

Methodology: For my longitudinal exploration of the lived experience of the transition, I used the contemporary phenomenological approach of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), which aligns with my interpretivist/constructivist worldview. The methodological frameworks and guidelines of Arksey and O’Malley, Levac and the Joanna Briggs Institute informed my scoping review of the literature into transitional interventions.

Methods: I purposively recruited 14 recent medical graduates. I interviewed them prior to commencing work, regarding their experience of anticipation of practice, and again at the end of their first year with respect to their experience of transition over the year. Each participant recorded audio diaries during the year relating to their experiences. Interviews were recorded, and all data was transcribed verbatim and anonymised. Analysis was carried out using IPA to identify common themes in respect of my research questions. To explore the experience of intra-professional mistreatment during the transition I focused on the data of a subset of three participants. For my scoping review, I assembled a research team of experts. Using relevant terms, we searched Medline Ovid, Embase, PsycInfo, SocIndex, ERIC and CINAHL databases, handsearched key journals, and tracked citations to identify empirical papers describing the implementation and/or evaluation of interventions designed to address preparedness for practice. Papers were screened by abstract and title and then by full text using inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data was extracted to address the focus of the review.

Results: The experience of anticipation of transition was characterised by the expectation of an abrupt transition, mixed feelings regarding commencing practice and strategic planning in anticipation of the challenges ahead. The hidden curriculum shaped participants’ understanding of what was expected of them and inspired dysfunctional strategies to meet these expectations. I identified overlapping stages in the experience over the first year. An initial emotional response, similar to the ‘transition shock’ described in newly graduated nurses was followed by an increase in confidence, challenges with workload, support and workplace interactions, and a final stage of rationalisation of the challenges encountered during the year. Distressing experiences of victimisation, disrespect and issues securing support from more senior doctors were described, which inspired some maladaptive behaviours. My scoping review revealed a lack of emphasis on real-patient care experiences, on the wellbeing of the graduate, or involvement of allied healthcare professionals, and a lack of standardisation regarding categorisation and terminology used to describe transitional interventions, with low level study design and evaluation.

Discussion: While the abrupt nature of the transition characterised the early experience of commencing work, beyond this, cultural, relational and contextual factors predominated. One way to alleviate the abrupt nature of the transition is to strengthen experience based learning as an undergraduate so that the role of senior medical student approximates that of newly qualified doctor. There is also a need for greater accommodation of the early transition period at organisational level. Deep cultural change is required to address the hidden curriculum and mitigate its negative effects. Interventions to address bullying and harassment, suboptimal supervision, issues with inter-professional collaboration and increased work intensity are also vital to improve the experience of transition to clinical practice. My findings have added to the extant knowledge relating to the transition to clinical practice and will inform undergraduate and postgraduate curricula and interventions to support this important period in the lives of medical graduates.

Cyberbullying in China: The connection between language and behaviour
Li, Wan-Qi
University of Nottingham

Cyberbullying refers to individual or group behaviours involving the use of offensive language online, and it is a global issue that causes serious social problems. Research on cyberbullying has thus emerged in several fields, such as psychology, sociology, computer science, and linguistics. However, studies of cyberbullying in China have met with limitations and challenges, despite cyberbullying there becoming a serious and prevalent problem, making China a meaningful case study for cyberbullying investigations. This thesis thus used a new combined theoretical framework, a Socio-ecological Framework with Language Feature and Management Approaches, to analyse cyberbullying language features and usages, cyberbullying motivations, and the variables affecting cyberbullying in the Chinese context. Based on its overall findings, this research also made some extrapolations to cognate social issues in order to discuss the consequences of cyberbullying, and to develop potential measures for detecting or regulating cyberbullying. The methodologies selected for this thesis were content analysis, social network analysis, and interviews; thus, the work is both qualitative and quantitative. Content analysis was used to examine cyberbullying language usage, formations, and features using an author-created 2,000-word database. Based on these results, social network analysis was applied to provide deeper insights into how contextual and sociolinguistic variables affect cyberbullying, while the interviews helped to gather additional views on cyberbullying, providing new ways to examine the challenges of regulating cyberbullying, as well as highlighting potential approaches to doing this. The main finding of this thesis is that not all cyberbullying words are inherently offensive; emotional and even ordinary words may have cyberbullying functions in context. Additionally, during cyberbullying, the context for communication, current events, and the forms adopted all affect the use of cyberbullying language. Both males and females both use a range of offensive words in cyberspace, and cyberbullying can affect any internet users, not only minors. The consequences of cyberbullying may also be more serious than those of traditional bullying. These findings were then adopted to draft a set of preliminary measures for addressing cyberbullying.

Essays on Labour Economics
Xia, Yiming
University College London

Employing exogenous variations from random classroom assignment and field experiment, this thesis investigates three topics. The first two topics focus on peer effects on educational outcomes and bullying behaviours in China, whereas the third paper evaluates a subsidized employment program in North Macedonia. Chapter 2 measures the spillover effects of parental migration using the sample schools in which 7th-grade students are randomly assigned to classes during the compulsory schooling period. I find that having additional 10 percentage points of left behind children in the class led to a decrease in total test score of 5 percentiles. The medium run peer effect (one year after they met) is mainly driven by short-run peer effect taken place in about 10 weeks after they met. In Chapter 3, using the same strategy, I show that the within-class inequality of family socioeconomic status (SES) contribute to number of bullies in the class, as students from lower SES distribution want to gain peer status while these at the top want to secure their status. Policy simulations imply an intervention on class assignment may help the school to reduce the bullying incidents via reducing the bullies. Chapter 4 evaluates the impacts of the SEP experiment in which applicants were randomly selected to attend job interviews. It provides a wage subsidy to eligible employers for hiring an applicant. We find that attending the job interview led to more than 20 percentage point increase in employment and the effect persists at slightly lower percentage points afterwards. The programme’s effects are mainly concentrated among the most vulnerable groups.


The experience as a document: Designing for the future of collaborative remembering in digital archives
Delatte Espinosa, Marta
University of Hull

How does it feel when we remember together on-line? Who gets to say what it is worth to be remembered? To understand how the user experience of participation is affecting the formation of collective memories in the context of online environments, first it is important to take into consideration how the notion of memory has been transformed under the influence of the digital revolution. I aim to contribute to the field of User Experience (UX) research theorizing on the felt experience of users from a memory perspective, taking into consideration aspects linked to both personal and collective memories in the context of connected environments. Harassment and hate speech in connected conversational environments are specially targeted to women and underprivileged communities, which has become a problem for digital archives of vernacular creativity (Burgess, J. E. 2007) such as YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and Wikipedia. An evaluation of the user experience of underprivileged communities in creative archives such as Wikipedia indicates the urgency for building a feminist space where women and queer folks can focus on knowledge production and learning without being harassed. The theoretical models and designs that I propose are a result of a series of prototype testing and case studies focused on cognitive tools for a mediated human memory operating inside transactive memory systems. With them, aims to imagine the means by which feminist protocols for UX design and research can assist in the building and maintenance of the archive as a safe/brave space. Working with perspectives from media theory, memory theory and gender studies and centreing the user experience of participation for women, queer folks, people of colour (POC) and other vulnerable and underrepresented communities as the main focus of inquiring, my research takes an interdisciplinary approach to interrogate how online misogyny and other forms of abuse are perceived by communities placed outside the center of the hegemonic normativity, and how the user experience of online abuse is affecting the formation of collective memories in the context of online environments.

Investigating the Acceptability of the KiVa Anti-bullying Programme in a Special Educational Setting: A Mixed Methods Case Study
Liscombe, Rachel
Bangor University

Forty years of research has established bullying as a globally pervasive, adverse experience associated with a multitude of immediate and longer-term negative life outcomes. The school is identified as a site with a high concentration of bullying. As a result, a number of school-based anti-bullying interventions have been developed and implemented with the hope of reducing overall prevalences of the behaviour and negating its negative impact on a new generation. KiVa is one such school-based anti-bullying programme, developed and designed for national use in Finland in 2006. KiVa has since been subject to a number of cross-cultural investigations of transferability, efficacy and success.

To date, however, KiVa research, including several UK based studies, has been solely conducted in mainstream primary school settings. As a result, there are no reports on the use of the programme with a population of students with additional learning needs, despite evidence that these students are particularly vulnerable to both being bullied, and bullying others. The present case study is an attempt to address this gap in the literature, and follows the implementation of KiVa (Unit 1) over one academic year in the middle department (n = 46, ages 12–15) of a large special school in North Wales. Qualitative and quantitative data from teachers implementing the programme and students in receipt of the programme are included.

Teachers participated in semi-structured interviews, and completed weekly Teacher Lesson Records as a measure of implementation fidelity, and a final Teacher Survey at the end of the academic year to explore their final perceptions of the programme. Students completed the online pre-and post-KiVa Pupil Survey, and ten students were invited to participate in focus groups at the end of the academic year. The research has two central aims; the first, to assess the feasibility of implementing KiVa in this novel setting and document any adaptations necessary for implementation, and the second, to investigate programme impact on students with additional learning needs in this setting, together these aims help to determine the acceptability of KiVa in this novel setting.

Though feasibly implemented in this setting, KiVa required a number of minor adaptations to improve intervention-setting-fit, and a number of more fundamental programme changes which may have negatively impacted programme success and student outcomes. Declines in students’ perceptions of school climate and increases in student self-reported victimisation and cyber victimisation are observed, however teachers believed that KiVa also led to positive developments in terms of students personal, social and emotional learning, and may therefore meet positive though unintended needs of this student population. Results suggest mixed acceptability in this setting. Limitations of the present research are discussed, followed by avenues of future research raised by the results gathered.

Perceptions of inclusion: A study of children with autism in the Primary School playground
Young, Laura Jane
University of Southampton

Children with a diagnosis of Autism experience difficulties in social   communication and are vulnerable to bullying and social exclusion in mainstream schools. The importance of educating all children in an inclusive learning environment is enshrined in both national and international legislative policy (UNESCO, 1994; Department for Education, 2015). Yet, the numbers of children with Autism currently facing exclusion from their mainstream schools are disproportionate compared to children with other Special Educational Needs (SEN) (Department for Education, 2018; Ambitious about Autism, n.d.(a)). As a construct, ‘Inclusion’ is multi-dimensional and is expressed through full participation in the wider community, a sense of belonging and being part of a wider social group (Farrell, 2000). There is ambiguity regarding how this concept operates in practice. How children relate to others and the social repertoires they display are likely to be a core component to effective inclusion. Peer-Mediated Interventions (PMIs) have been used to promote the social skills of children with Autism. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken to examine the evidence from eighteen single-subject experimental designs (SSEDs). These studies examined the effectiveness of PMIs on improving the social outcomes of children with Autism. The review made an original contribution by using the ‘What Works Clearinghouse’ (WWC) Design Standards for evaluating SEDs (Kratochwill et al., 2010). All studies reviewed showed positive findings, yet conclusions drawn were tentative. There was considerable variability across the studies regarding the role of peers. Generalisability of findings were limited by a lack of long-term follow-up data. Outcome measures were focused on behavioural modification, and although helpful, over-simplified the complex nature of social interaction. The conclusions from the systematic review identified the need to further explore peers’ perceptions and the contextual environment in which inclusion is practiced. Chapter Two focused on exploring the experiences and perspectives of children with Autism, their peers and their teachers in the social environment of the school playground, and examined how inclusion operated in this context. Using a qualitative case study design and semi-structured interviews, children with autism, their peers and their teachers were interviewed in three different Primary Schools (n= 39). To capture peers’ perspectives of autistic behaviours, modified vignettes were used as a stimulus for discussion (Butler & Gillis, 2011; Matthews et al., 2015). Findings suggested that children’s experiences of playground inclusion were more alike than different for all child participants. Specific environmental barriers to inclusion were identified as lack of structure in the playground, and within-child factors such as difficulties in emotional regulation and social communication. Facilitators were identified as increased adult support and a wider range of play equipment for some children with autism, although the need to recognise the individuality of each child was highlighted. Peers’ understanding of autistic behaviours presented in the vignettes were variable and included hostile attributions (Dodge, 2006). Further research could explore the development of peer attributions of autistic behaviours and examine how these directly impact upon peer interaction in the playground. Implications for practice were highlighted, including the need to reflect about how EPs can support schools in educating children and staff about autism and how our attributions of difference can affect our behaviour towards others.


Evaluating the implementation of the MindOut Social and Emotional Wellbeing Programme in Irish post-primary schools
Dowling, Catherine
National University of Ireland Galway

Aims: The overarching aim of this thesis was to evaluate the implementation of the MindOut social and emotional learning (SEL) programme with disadvantaged post-primary school students (15-18 years old) in Ireland. This study was conducted in three phases, each of which have been published. Phase 1 aimed to evaluate the immediate impact of the MindOut programme on students’ social emotional skills, mental health and wellbeing and academic outcomes. Phase 2 aimed to examine variability in implementation quality and to identify factors that contributed to this variability. Phase 3 aimed to determine how implementation quality impacted on programme outcomes.

Methods: The study employed a cluster-randomised controlled design with mixed methods approaches. A total of 675 students from 32 disadvantaged schools participated at baseline and data were collected from students and teachers before, during and following programme delivery. Phase 1 employed linear mixed models (LMM) to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme on students’ outcomes. Phase 2 used process measures to determine schools’ level of implementation quality across four implementation dimensions, and to identify factors that contributed to implementation quality. Phase 3 employed LMM’s to assess the relationships between the implementation data and outcome data across three time-points and between three treatment groups (high-implementation, low-implementation and control).

Results: Phase 1 demonstrated significant improvements in students’ social and emotional skills: reduced suppression of emotions (p=0.035), use of more positive coping strategies [reduced avoidance coping p=<0.001) and increased social support coping p=0.044)] and mental health and wellbeing: reduced levels of stress (p=0.017) and depressive symptoms (p=0.030) and reduced anxiety scores for female students (p=0.044). Phase 2 detected variability in implementation quality between schools and assigned eight schools to both the high- and low-implementation groups. Influencing factors were categorised into five themes: Programme Factors, Participant Factors, Teacher Factors, School Contextual Factors and Organisational Capacity Factors. Phase 3 revealed significant positive programme effects at post-intervention for the high-implementation group only (reduced suppression of emotions [p=.049]; reduced avoidance coping [p=.006]; increased social support coping [p=.009]; reduced levels of stress [p = .035] and depressive symptoms [p = .025]. At 12-month follow-up, reduced avoidance coping [p=.033] was the only sustained outcome.

Conclusions: Overall, these findings demonstrate that the MindOut programme can be effective in producing positive outcomes for participants, particularly those students of disadvantaged status. However, these positive outcomes were only evident in schools that implemented the programme with high-quality, signifying the importance of implementation quality in the overall success of a programme. The findings from this study have clear implications for policy, practice and future research and highlight a number of important factors to enhance implementation quality and strengthen programme outcomes.

Can education policy make children happier? A comparative study in 33 countries
Marquez Merino, Jose Manuel
University of Leeds

There is an increasing academic and policy interest in subjective well-being (SWB). However, the questions of whether and how public policy can promote children’s SWB remain understudied. This thesis aims to reduce this gap by studying the association between education policy and students’ SWB, with a focus on life satisfaction (LS). To quantitatively study this question, this thesis analyses data on 15-year-old students in 33 countries that participated in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study. The analysis draws on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of child development and it is conducted by using a range of advanced quantitative methods, mainly multilevel regression. This thesis presents analysis demonstrating an association between several education policy-relevant factors and students ́ LS, which is particularly prominent –and observed in almost all countries- for schoolwork-related anxiety, bullying and parents’ emotional support in relation to school. Results also indicate that schools may play an important role in shaping students’ LS. This is supported by evidence that these associations tend to vary by school, by evidence on the existence of school effects in almost all countries, and by the finding that a proportion – substantial in some countries- of the variation in students’ LS is explained by differences between schools. Moreover, findings suggest that school type and school peers’ characteristics can be important to students’ LS too. In addition, in many countries, the links between schools and education policy and students’ LS differ for girls and boys and for students of different socio-economic status. Finally, in all the analyses described above, there are significant differences across countries. Overall, this thesis makes key contributions to our understanding of whether and how children’s SWB can be influenced by schools and education policy, supporting calls that education policy should also be assessed in terms of its impact in children’s SWB.