Research from Trinity campus goes international

Research from Trinity campus goes international

This year, Trinity Grammar School is sending Dr Rachel O’Brien to the 2022 International Boys’ School Coalition (IBSC) Conference  as a participant in the IBSC Action Research Programme. Dr O’Brien will be investigating and, in 2023, presenting her research on the implementation of the portion of the Life Skills Programme she designed, titled ‘The Man Box’. 

In 2022, the IBSC conference will bring over 600 educators from all over the world together in Dallas, Texas. Through the conference, the IBSC offers a fellowship-style research programme. The Coalition develops a theme for the research before putting a call out to educators across the world. They accept no more than one person from a School but typically, there are approximately 40 researchers internationally. 

The 2022-23 theme for the Action Research Programme is ‘Shattering Stereotypes: Helping Boys Cultivate Healthy Masculinity’. 

When she heard this was the theme, Dr Rachel O’Brien knew she could contribute. Her PhD in Education from the University of Sydney was awarded in 2020 after four years of examining the construction of masculinities in an elite boys’ school. 

A huge drawcard in her decision to come to Trinity was the opportunity to transform the Life Skills Programme. With her PhD learnings, Dr O’Brien developed one of the four themes of the Life Skills Programme, ‘The Man Box’. 

“It gives the boys the opportunity to unpack this idea – to look at the different pillars and expectations of masculinity and ask questions.” 

The pandemic has meant that the revamped programme has not seen its full potential, only running once since it was launched. It will be repeated later in 2022. 

Now, Dr O’Brien’s focus is on investigating the implementation of this formal curriculum as well as measuring how the broader messaging about masculinity is being absorbed by students. Throughout her action research, Dr O’Brien will ask the following questions: 

  • What works? 
  • How can we get traction with students? 
  • What changes their ideas, perceptions, and views of what masculinity can and should be? 

“I want to know if any of this works,” she says. “We want to design a curriculum that is relevant and connects with the boys’ real life experiences and concerns. When I saw the IBSC theme, I knew it would be a good opportunity to explore this.” 

Accepted into the IBSC Action Research Programme in January, Dr O’Brien will be balancing her research alongside full-time work for much of the next 12 months, with the first six months focused on research training. 

“We start conducting the research later this year, around October or November. From there we start to write up our findings and then we deliver our results in the middle of 2023 at the next IBSC conference.” 

Dr O’Brien will be travelling to the 2022 conference in Texas, attending workshops and kicking off her research at the event. Her results will be delivered at the 2023 conference, a little closer to home in New Zealand. 

Find out more about the Life Skills Programme Dr O’Brien designed – The Man Box


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