University of Melbourne Research

University of Melbourne Research and Evaluation — The Resilience Project School Programs

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The Resilience Project’s core-focus has, and always will be the health and wellbeing of students. In our commitment to provide schools with evidence-based programs that positively impact mental health, we have undertaken an evaluation with The University of Melbourne of our Partnership Program and curriculum. This was designed to understand the impact of the program on participating students, staff, parents and carers. 

From January 2017 through to December 2019, the evaluation was conducted with six primary schools receiving the Program and six schools used for comparison data. The research specifically looked at immediate and maintained changes in behaviour in relation to use of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness strategies, and any associated changes in feelings and attitudes.

Focus groups and interviews conducted with students, parents and teachers showed that students benefited from the Program in different ways:

  • Improved confidence and self-esteem, especially in relation to their peer relationships
  • Improved wellbeing and ability to express emotions
  • Improved knowledge and communication of emotions 
  • Improved relationships both at school and at home
  • More supportive classroom environments


Survey data shows that students who received the Program significantly increased their practice of daily gratitude compared to those in non-Program schools.

This research was conducted by researchers from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at The University of Melbourne. The research team includes Professor Lisa Gibbs, Dr Karen Block, Ms Hannah Morrice, Ms Elena Swift and Ms Lauren Carpenter.

The University of Melbourne recruitment and data collection team includes: Dr Anna Barrett, Ms Kathryn Young, Dr Dakhina Mitra, Ms Kate Burke, and Ms Molly Harrington.

HOW WAS THE EVALUATION CONDUCTED?

A multi-method evaluation was conducted from 2018-2020 to examine the impacts and outcomes of The Resilience Project in the school context, focussing on:

  • How the program is implemented and experienced within the school communities
  • Impact of the program on the attitudes and behaviours of students, teachers and parents
  • Whether individual student responses are influenced by peer, teacher and parent uptake of program strategies
  • Whether students with different needs respond differently to the program.


The methods included pre and post surveys to measure change over time. The student results were compared to students from comparison schools to determine if changes arose from the program and not just from student maturation. Parent/carer and teacher interviews, student focus groups and student case study analyses were also conducted to gain deeper insights into the nature of the program impacts.

WHAT CONTRIBUTION WILL THIS MAKE?

Health promotion projects typically benefit those who are already doing well. Resilience promotion is particularly difficult to measure because of the many factors involved and the potential for the benefits to only emerge during a time of future adversity. Programs found to be closing the gap for students who are at risk will be an extremely important contribution in a time of escalating youth mental health issues.