The effectiveness of MindMatters professional development in the Northern Territory
: a retrospective study

  • Maria Marguerita Marriner

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This research sets out to examine the Effectiveness of MindMatters Professional Development in the Northern Territory retrospectively (2000-2004).
    MindMatters is a mental health promotion program for secondary school students. It was developed in the late 1990s because of the increasing rate of suicide and self harm amongst youth in Australia. The MindMatters resources were trialled nationally prior to Australian release in late 2000, along with an accompanying national Professional Development program designed with training materials, and underpinned by research and an experiential learning methodological approach. It was anticipated by academics from health and education sectors that specially targeted Professional Development would assist and enable teachers to use the MindMatters resources, and implement a whole school' Health Promotion approach to teaching and learning.

    As the Northern Territory principal facilitator of MindMatters Professional Development (2000-2004), I was inherently interested to ascertain if the above core objectives had been achieved. I was also keen to establish whether essential elements such as role-modelling and experiential learning had increased teachers' capacity to transfer information and apply alternate concepts and pedagogy from the Professional Development workshop to the classroom/school context.

    The research indicates that 9 I % of respondent schools in the Northern Territory have taken up and implemented MindMatters. A corresponding percentage of respondents reported that MindMatters Professional Development was useful because of its relevance, whole school' approach, attention to a safe, supportive, inclusive, interactive learning context, with opportunities to share and reflect. The results were similar for all school systems and between Indigenous and mainstream participants, suggesting that it is possible to enhance health and learning outcomes for students with effective in-school Professional Development programs.

    In order to provide a contextual basis for the research. Chapter 1 explores the notion of Health Promotion, and attempts to show the important links between health and education in the school setting.

    Chapter 2 undertakes a review of the literature associated with Professional Development to qualify the term, and illustrate the changes taking place with moves towards Professional Learning Communities.
    The Grounded Theory approach is discussed in Chapter 3 as it relates to researching the effectiveness of MiniMatters Professional Development in the Northern Territory (2000-2004). Effectiveness of the MindMatters Professional Development program is being equated with take-up' or implementation of MindMatters in Northern Territory secondary schools following training. Implementation in this case, refers to the use of MindMatters resources, concepts, and methodological constructs embedded in a Health Promoting School approach.

    Chapter 4 includes a snapshot of the Northern Territory context before illustrating the data through descriptive analysis.
    Cultural implications relating to Professional Development are presented from Indigenous respondents' perspectives in Chapter 5, and provide a rich source of evidence about MindMatters, its content and methodological approaches for Indigenous people.

    Chapter 6 concludes the research through a discussion of the findings including identification of critical success factors, and a list of recommendations to support funding providers, systems, schools, teachers, and advisers provide effective Professional Development to support school change, and increase the learning and life options for young people. 

    Date of Award2005
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDarol Cavanagh (Supervisor)

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