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Taking the Lead: innovations in classroom practices involving dogs

Helen Lewis Orcid Logo, Janet Oostendorp Godfrey

Society for Companion Animal Studies Annual Conference

Swansea University Authors: Helen Lewis Orcid Logo, Janet Oostendorp Godfrey

Abstract

ContextAnimals are beneficial in improving children’s social, emotional, physical, behavioural and cognitive development (Purewal et al, 2017). Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, their role supporting wellbeing in educational contexts has increased.RationaleInvolving animals can motivat...

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Published in: Society for Companion Animal Studies Annual Conference
Published: 2021
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa57880
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Abstract: ContextAnimals are beneficial in improving children’s social, emotional, physical, behavioural and cognitive development (Purewal et al, 2017). Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, their role supporting wellbeing in educational contexts has increased.RationaleInvolving animals can motivate children to complete tasks across the curriculum facilitating inclusive classroom practice, and as a 'social lubricant' or ‘catalyst’ for conversation (Nebbe, 2003; Wells, 2009). An animal’s presence can generate a sense of relaxation and a caring relationship with an animal can contribute to a sense of wellbeing (Fine, 2000; Lewis and Grigg, 2020). MethodIn 2021, a semi-structured, large-scale online survey of 607 teachers was undertaken, examining classroom practices involving animals in formal and informal learning. Ethical approval came from the university. In this poster we focus on practitioners' own views of the benefits/effectiveness of animals to support vulnerable children during the COVID-19 pandemic. ResultsMost respondents were based in England (66%), Wales (13%) and USA (12%), but we received responses from 23 other countries such as Vietnam, Egypt, Morocco, Hong Kong and Australia. 52% of respondents regularly involve animals in their educational practice, mainly to support wellbeing. Dogs were the most popular animal involved (43% responses). The poster explores: 1.How? Innovative ways that educators found to involve dogs during a lockdown and social distancing, including remote lunches, online clubs and 'crafting with dogs'. 2.Why? Benefits educators felt such involvement brought to their pupils, colleagues, and the animals themselves during uncertain times. 3.What Next? Comparison of and considerations made for the dog’s wellbeing and lessons we can learn for best practices in future involvement of dogs in educational settings.There are limited systematic, international studies which have explored benefits of animal assisted interventions (Hall et al, 2016) especially during a pandemic. This poster contributes knowledge in this area.
College: College of Arts and Humanities