Recent Journal Article Co-Authored by Pulte Institute Innovation and Practice Program Director

Author: Jessica Ashman

A recently published journal article, “Creating a Tool to Measure Children's Wellbeing: A PSS Intervention in South Sudan,” is co-authored by Tom Purekal, Innovation and Practice Program Director with the University of Notre Dame’s Pulte Institute for Global Development, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs. The article was published in the Journal on Education in Emergencies (JEiE) and focuses on a study evaluating the use of psychological support (PSS) for students in South Sudan.

Adverse events— including physical violence and forced displacement— have had large negative impacts on the education system in South Sudan. In an effort to intervene, UNICEF has implemented the USAID-funded Integrated Essential Emergency Education Service Program to provide PSS for affected students. To investigate the impact of PSS on wellbeing and academic performance, a consortium of partners sampled 2,892 students and 580 teachers in 64 schools from five states in South Sudan. In order to obtain accurate results, the research team developed an evaluation method that would allow them to accurately measure PSS efficacy in the South Sudan context. 

With the assistance of existing guidance, the researchers were able to itemize three measurement domains including “emotional wellbeing”, “social wellbeing”, and “the ability to cope”. Though there are multiple pre-existing tools that measure student wellbeing in domains like these, they were designed for contexts that are much different than the multicultural and multilingual population of South Sudan. The researchers found it essential to develop a survey that was contextualized for the specific population. Additionally, a factor analysis was conducted to test the validity of the items in the survey to ensure each measured their intended factors of interest. 

The resulting work was a tool that could now be used to accurately measure the impact of PSS on the wellbeing and academic performance of students in South Sudan. The authors suggested that it could be used in similar contexts but recommend proper reliability and validity evaluations for those contexts.

This project was supported by partners from Catholic Relief Services, the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, and the USAID Mission in South Sudan as part of LASER PULSE. Learn more about psychosocial support in education, localizing within the South Sudan context, and efforts toward completing research projects in conflict areas by attending their webinar on February 24

Purekal’s areas of expertise are South Sudan, Development Effectiveness, Humanitarian Response, Local Capacity Building, and Water Security & Management. He has spent years working abroad including in South Sudan and holds an MBA from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He is also a Term Teaching Professor within the Keough School. 

Read the article online here.