A qualitative study of Irish teachers' perspective of student substance use

Van Hout, Marie Claire and Connor, Sean (2008) A qualitative study of Irish teachers' perspective of student substance use. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 52 (1). pp. 80-91. ISSN 0090-1482

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RESEARCH AIM: This research aimed to provide an anecdotal perception of student substance use according to the teachers' personal experience in the Irish secondary level educational setting. METHODOLOGY: Sampling Interviews were conducted with teachers (n=95) at 10 randomly selected schools in County Carlow in the South East of Ireland, as part of a doctoral research programme assessing youth substance use in the South Eastern Region. The school type included vocational, secondary in disadvantaged area, secondary in non- disadvantaged area, youth training centre, private school and both mixed/single sex schools. A letter from the researcher and a follow up phone call to each research site initiated contact with the school principal and explained briefly the nature and purpose of the research. Teachers from all grades were randomly sampled at each school after informed consent was gained. Research Design The research emphasis was to access the views, perspectives and concerns of teachers and their experience of substance use and its impact in the classroom. Ethical approval of the interview basis was granted by the Ethics and Research Sub Group of Waterford Institute of Technology. The interview schema was piloted on a small sample of teachers in another region not partaking in this study. The interview contained questions regarding experience of substance abuse within the school setting, knowledge and recognition of substance use in students, awareness of school drug and alcohol policy, attitude toward substance misuse and drug education, awareness of drug availability in the area and knowledge of drug related services in their area. All interviews were coded to ensure confidentiality and participants gave permission for audio recording. The interviews took place in open plan areas and in the presence of an independent colleague. All interviews were transcribed. The themes analysis of interviews reported on the issues surrounding student substance use that arose for teachers, but also aimed to identify areas of similar and contrasting opinions. As such themes arose, the interviewee was encouraged to expand in a: "lengthy conversation piece" (Simons, 1982, p. 37). Data Analysis Zemke and Kramlinger's (1985) thematic analysis procedures were adopted and consisted of generating "a list of key ideas, words, phrases, and verbatim quotes; using ideas to formulate categories and placing ideas and quotes in appropriate categories; and examining the contents of each category for subtopics and selecting the most frequent and most useful illustrations for the various categories" (Anderson, 2003). CONCLUSION: It was reported that the drug education in schools was "haphazard, dissimilar and rather hit and miss" with not every class receiving drug education, others as part of religious education and Social Personal Health Education and the remainder being visited by the local drug education officer, a former addict or juvenile liaison officer. Teachers highlighted the need for information and teacher specific training in order to recognize the warning signs of adolescent problematic substance use, as many felt this social problem was impacting on their classroom and the academic performance of some students. Some teachers also reported not feeling comfortable with the delivery of drug educational material within their class time due to lack of appropriate training and lack of available time in their curriculum, in addition to feeling that this was not compatible with their role as educator.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3306
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Depositing User: Admin SSL
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2022 23:02
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2023 23:00
URI: http://repository-testing.wit.ie/id/eprint/3701

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