Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia,
St. Petersburg, Russia
The interest of psychologists in the study of safety in the educational environment and its psychological characteristics is increasing. The aim of this study was to select, substantiate, and disclose the psychological factors in the educational environment that influence the psychological well-being of pupils. There were three stages in our research: clarifying the level of psychological safety in the schools in the study; revealing the consistency of the teachers’ and the students’ evaluations of the level of psychological safety in those schools; determining the nature of the influence of the psychological safety of the educational environment on the psychological well-being of the students. The study involved 172 teachers and 876 students in Moscow and St. Petersburg schools.
Psychological safety is a condition of educational environments that are free from psychological violence in the interactions of the people in them; psychological safety contributes to the satisfaction of the needs for personal trust and communication, creates for the participants a sense of belonging (the referential importance of the environment), and contributes to their mental health.
The empirical study revealed that (1) the level of the psychological safety of the educational environment in the evaluations of the teachers was higher and had more expressed differentiation than did the level in the students’ evaluations; (2) the psychological well-being of the students was closely correlated with the level of psychological safety for the teachers; (3) such components of the well-being of the students as emotional comfort, self-confidence, a higher level of cognitive activity were developed in those schools with high levels of psychological safety for the teachers.
The results can be useful in educational psychology and environmental psychology as well as when creating technologies to support the safety of school environments and of the people in them, including situations related to minimizing safety violations and reducing risks and threats.
Keywords: educational environment, psychological safety, psychological well-being of pupils
Determination of the personality’s psychological resources that ensure its resilience to negative effects of the social environment is a priority problem in modern society, science, and education, since we currently see a sharp increase in the number of factors that affect psychological hardiness and security. One of these is intensification of violent and aggressive forms of interaction in educational institutions. Such manifestations are especially dangerous in schools, since, by virtue of their age-specific features, students are the most vulnerable and they subsequently translate the acquired values and behaviors to society as a whole. The goal of this empirical study was to identify teenagers’ psychological resources that determine their resilience to various forms of psychological violence in the educational environment. The study covered four St. Petersburg high schools, with 437 teenagers aged from 16.5 to 17 (189 boys and 248 girls). A questionnaire was developed to divide the subjects into groups with high and low levels of protection (security) against psychological violence in the educational environment. The questionnaire lists forms of psychological violence in the educational environment (identified by theoretical review) that can occur in interpersonal communication between peers and between teachers and students. The respondents evaluated each item of the questionnaire in accordance with the proposed scale of frequency with which each form of violence occurred. Theoretical analysis determined that psychological violence is traumatic for the adolescent personality’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral spheres. The teenagers’ psychological resources of resilience to violence in the educational environment were identified with the aid of psychodiagnostic methods addressing each of them. Our study allows us to conclude that the resources that ensure the teenager’s resilience to the negative effect of psychological violence in the educational environment are: satisfaction with oneself, accepting oneself as a personality with positive and socially desirable characteristics; high level of self-control, well- developed ability to behave in an acceptable way whatever the circumstances; openness and goodwill, self-confidence; perception of the surrounding world as friendly and generous, which gives rise to friendly behavior; holistic perception of the world, experiencing the present moment in one’s life in its entirety, striving for personal development and self-improvement; independence of values and behavior from external factors; significance of such values as achievement, self-development, and high financial position, in combination with a priority on learning and education; explanation as a typical mechanism of psychological protection, search for a reasonable basis for justifying behavior and actions as well as impulsive acts; low level of anxiety, aggressiveness, and rigidity. The results obtained can be useful for researching the resource-oriented approach to psychology, and also for the development of follow-up techniques for ensuring the safety of the educational environment, preventing all forms of violence in interpersonal interaction between students and teachers.
Keywords: psychological resources, resilience of the individual, psychological violence, educational environment