Implementing problem solving, circle, and consultation groups in schools: an exploratory process evaluation

  • Fungisai Muchenje

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


There are high personal and professional costs associated with poor wellbeing for school staff. Consultation, circle, and problem-solving groups (PSGs) have been found to increase teachers’ capacity to respond to challenges through group sharing of strategies and knowledge. PSGs contribute a sense of confidence, belonging and emotional containment for participants. Paper one outlines a configurative systematic literature review which synthesises existing research on PSGs in education settings. This paper seeks to make explicit the theoretical underpinnings for the reported successes of PSGs and underscores the acceptability, usefulness and feasibility of these groups as forms of peer support. Paper two reports on how PSGs were put into practice in schools by teachers who had been trained to facilitate these groups. The study was an exploratory process evaluation which considered implementation factors important for introducing and maintaining PSGs in schools. Focus groups were conducted with the teacher - facilitators over an academic year to discuss the implementation process. Data were co-analysed with the participants (teacher- facilitators). Paper one identified group structure, environment, preparation and planning were related to psycho-social processes which led to the reported positive impacts of PSGs. Paper two outlines how issues of leadership, teacher understanding of PSGs, commitment of facilitators and time influenced implementation. These implementation factors were found to change over time. Findings from Paper one and Paper two provide both a rationale and practical guidance for implementing PSGs in schools. Dissemination at the research site and beyond is discussed in Paper three. The role of Educational Psychologists in supporting PSGs in education settings is also discussed.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMehmet Agdiran (Supervisor) & Catherine Kelly (Supervisor)


  • Peer Support
  • Active Implementation Frameworks
  • Participatory Data Analysis
  • Teacher Wellbeing
  • Supervision Groups
  • Circle of Adults
  • Solution Circle
  • Staff Sharing Scheme
  • Group Process Consultation
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving Groups
  • Solution Focused Reflecting Teams

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