Irma Eloff

University of Pretoria, Πρετόρια/Πόλη του Ακρωτηρίου, Gauteng, South Africa

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Publications (46)23.73 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: "Telling stories and adding scores: Measuring resilience in young children affected by maternal HIV and AIDS", demonstrates how a concurrent mixed method design assisted cross-cultural comparison and ecological descriptions of resilience in young South African children, as well as validated alternative ways to measure resilience in young children. In a longitudinal randomised control trial, which investigated psychological resilience in mothers and children affected by HIV/AIDS, we combined a qualitative projective story-telling technique (Düss Fable) with quantitative data (Child Behaviour Checklist). The children mostly displayed adaptive resilience-related behaviours, although maladaptive behaviours were present. Participating children use internal (resolve/agency, positive future expectations, emotional intelligence) and external protective resources (material resources, positive institutions) to mediate adaptation. Children's maladaptive behaviours were exacerbated by internal (limited problem-solving skills, negative emotions) and external risk factors (chronic and cumulative adversity).
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · African Journal of AIDS Research
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    ABSTRACT: This article uses a South African case study to argue that postcolonial, emerging economy societies in transition often contain schools characterised as high risk and high need. Such schools require teachers to adapt to roles other than facilitating learning, such as psychosocial support and care, and which requires additional professional development. In the absence of structured teacher professional development programmes, alternatives are required to assist teachers. The paper describes a nine-year partnership between higher education researchers and teachers in high-risk and high-need schools in three South African provinces. The participatory reflection and action (PRA) study served as platform for a school-based intervention to assist in-service teachers to adapt to their additional responsibilities. Thematic analysis was used to identify the ways in which teachers’ adaptation to high risk benefitted from the programme, and self-determination theory is used to argue for a dynamic and interconnected relationship between the teachers’ demonstrated pathways to psychosocial support and care. The article argues that in socio-politically transforming societies where need is high for in-service teacher training and formal structures for teacher professional development may be limited, partnerships between researchers and teachers appear to be useful platforms for school-based interventions to support teacher resilience.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Journal of Education for Teaching
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    ABSTRACT: This article describes the challenges that teachers negotiated in a rural school (thwarted by rurality in an emerging-economy context) to remain partners in a long-term research project. We use the generative theory of rurality to theoretically locate the challenges and thematic analysis of six years' Participatory Reflection and Action (PRA) data with South African teachers (n = 9) in a rural school. Insights may contribute to knowledge about partnerships with marginalised-school partners. Knowing which obstacles teacher-partners had to overcome to continue in a project, may inform the conceptualisation and implementation of enduring partnerships.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Teaching and Teacher Education
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: The objective of this study is to assess the efficacy of an intervention designed to promote resilience in young children living with their HIV-positive mothers. Design/methods: HIV-positive women attending clinics in Tshwane, South Africa, and their children, aged 6-10 years, were randomized to the intervention (I) or standard care (S). The intervention consisted of 24 weekly group sessions led by community care workers. Mothers and children were in separate groups for 14 sessions, followed by 10 interactive sessions. The primary focus was on parent-child communication and parenting. Assessments were completed by mothers and children at baseline and 6, 12 and 18 months. Repeated mixed linear analyses were used to assess change over time. Results: Of 390 mother-child pairs, 84.6% (I: 161 and S: 169) completed at least two interviews and were included in the analyses. Children's mean age was 8.4 years and 42% of mothers had been ill in the prior 3 months. Attendance in groups was variable: only 45.7% attended more than 16 sessions. Intervention mothers reported significant improvements in children's externalizing behaviours (ß = -2.8, P = 0.002), communication (ß = 4.3, P = 0.025) and daily living skills (ß = 5.9, P = 0.024), although improvement in internalizing behaviours and socialization was not significant (P = 0.061 and 0.052, respectively). Intervention children reported a temporary increase in anxiety but did not report differences in depression or emotional intelligence. Conclusion: This is the first study demonstrating benefits of an intervention designed to promote resilience among young children of HIV-positive mothers. The intervention was specifically designed for an African context and has the potential to benefit large numbers of children, if it can be widely implemented.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · AIDS (London, England)
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    ABSTRACT: Inclusive education has become a practice that has been adopted by many schools across the globe and most usually in first-world countries. As a whole-school system, it occurs less frequently in developing countries including South Africa which unlike many developing countries has a sound infrastructure and many excellent schools in both the state and the independent sectors. Education White Paper 6: Special education: Building an inclusive education and training system was published in 2001 with the express intention of developing an inclusive education system in South Africa. Some South African independent schools have successfully implemented valuable forms of inclusion in their schools and this is the phenomenon that was studied. This study reveals various aspects of the inclusive process including the pivotal role that principals play in the transformation process of which inclusive education is the harbinger. It also analyses why principals choose to embrace a paradigm that on the surface is uncomfortable and not an easy option. We used narrative research as methodology for this qualitative research. The basic tenet was that inclusion leads to belonging and excellence in education. The major findings were that inclusion to most principals was about taking action, humanity and emotion. The principals also described inclusion as personal and pragmatic. The implications for action are of interest not only to principals, but to anyone who is seriously interested in innovative and more humane forms of anti-oppressive education.
    No preview · Article · May 2014 · International Journal of Inclusive Education
  • Carien Lubbe · Irma Eloff
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    ABSTRACT: Several trends are compelling educational psychologists towards a philosophy of assessment that is asset-based and strength focused. This article shares the results from a study that explored perceptions about asset-based assessment in Educational Psychology in South Africa. Three focus groups were held and four main themes emerged from the transcribed data. Results indicate that educational psychologists perceive asset-based assessment as involving: (a) a focus on assets, (b) individual and community level assessment, (c) collaboration skills, and (d) self-reflective skills. The first three themes are congruent with asset-based theories, but the fourth theme is currently under-represented in asset-based literature and therefore in need of further research.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · The California school psychologist: CASP / California Association of School Psychologists
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    ABSTRACT: Prior investigations suggest that maternal HIV/AIDS poses significant challenges to young children. This study investigates the relationships between mothers' psychological functioning, parenting, and children's behavioral outcomes and functioning in a population of women living with HIV (N = 361) with a child between the ages of 6 and 10 years in Tshwane, South Africa. Utilizing path analysis, findings revealed that maternal depression is related to increased parenting stress and parent-child dysfunction, maternal coping is related to parenting style, and maternal coping, parenting style and stress, and parent-child dysfunction are associated with children's behavior and functioning, with parenting emerging as an important mediator. These findings suggest that interventions for women living with HIV and their children should not only address maternal psychological functioning (depression and coping), but should also focus on parenting, promoting a positive approach.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2013 · AIDS and Behavior
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Adults with HIV are living longer due to earlier diagnosis and increased access to antiretroviral medications. Therefore, fewer young children are being orphaned and instead, are being cared for by parents who know they are HIV positive, although they may be asymptomatic. Presently, it is unclear whether the psychological functioning of these young children is likely to be affected or, alternatively, whether it is only when a mother is ill, that children suffer adverse effects. We, thus, aimed to compare the behavior and psychological functioning of young children (aged 6-10 years) of HIV-positive and HIV-negative mothers. We also aimed to examine the association between HIV status disclosure and child outcomes. This study uses cross-sectional data from the baseline assessment of a randomized controlled trial conducted in Tshwane, South Africa. Participants (n=509) and their children were recruited from area health clinics. Among the 395 mothers with HIV, 42% reported symptoms of HIV disease. Multivariate linear regression models suggested that after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, children of HIV-positive mothers had significantly greater externalizing behaviors than children of HIV-negative mothers. Importantly, children whose mothers were symptomatic had greater internalizing and externalizing behaviors compared with children of HIV-negative mothers, but this was not true for children of asymptomatic mothers. Additionally, among children of HIV-positive mothers, those who had been told their mothers were sick compared with children who had been told nothing had less internalizing and externalizing behaviors and improved daily living skills. This study, therefore, provides evidence that maternal HIV disease can affect the behaviors of young children in South Africa but, importantly, only when the mothers are symptomatic from their disease. Furthermore, results suggest that disclosure of maternal illness but not HIV status was associated with improved behavior and psychological functioning among young children.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · AIDS Care
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to explore the usefulness of sandplay therapy to overcome a language barrier in the process of emotionally supporting a very young, Human Immunosuppresive Virus (HIV) & Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) infected, orphaned Sotho-speaking child. The qualitative case study involved informal assessment and re-assessment, and employed observation, interviews, field notes, and photographs. In our hermeneutic-reflective narrative of the sessions we employed a psychoanalytical developmental model, an object relations, and a Gestalt therapy perspective, and highlighted the value of therapeutic touch. Our thematic analysis and crystallization of data indicated that 18 sessions of sandplay therapy had been effective in supporting her emotionally, and may be useful for vulnerable children with pre-verbal trauma.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2013 · The Arts in Psychotherapy
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    Irma Eloff · L. K. Kgwete

    Preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Childhood Education
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    ABSTRACT: This paper describes the process of developing a parallel intervention for HIV-positive mothers and their young children (6-10 years) with a view to strengthening the relationship between them. Strong mother-child relationships can contribute to enhanced psychological resilience in children. The intervention was developed through action research, involving a situation analysis based on focus group discussions; intervention planning, piloting the intervention and a formative evaluation of the intervention. Participants supplied feedback regarding the value of the intervention in mother-child relationships. The findings obtained from the formative evaluation were used to refine the intervention. Two parallel programmes for mothers and children (15 sessions each) were followed by 10 joint sessions. The intervention for mothers focused on maternal mental health and the strengthening of their capacity to protect and care for their young children. The intervention for children addressed the development of their self-esteem, interpersonal relationships and survival skills. The formative evaluation provided evidence of good participation, support and group cohesion. Qualitative feedback indicated that the activities stimulated mother-child interaction. A similar intervention can easily be applied elsewhere using the detailed manual. The insights gained and lessons learnt related to mother and child interaction within an HIV-context that emerged from this research, can be valuable in other settings, both in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2012 · Evaluation and program planning
  • Irma Eloff
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    ABSTRACT: In this article I reflect on three central theoretical constructs in the work of W.A. Landman. I unpack the constructs of understanding, trust and authority, conceptualized as pedagogical relationship structures by Landman, by connecting them with more recent studies focusing on the same constructs. I do this in order to assess the relevance of Landman's constructs to educational phenomena today. The article postulates three central tenets: I argue that i) understandings of these three constructs be expanded beyond the individual adult-child educational relationship, ii) the intrinsic associations between the three constructs still be retained as we expand their utility, and that iii) we include more systemic complexities in our theoretical understanding of the constructs understanding, trust and authority. In this manner, I hypothesize that Landman's theory on pedagogical relationships-structures can increase its applicability and relevance in today's complex teaching and learning contexts. The article sets out to revisit the notions of understanding, trust and authority as it was defined by Landman and his colleagues in their educational work from 1960 - 1980. It is evident that all of these constructs are defined in terms of relationships between adults and children. The constructs are strongly connected to one another in the ways in which they are theorized. The cogitations of the concepts furthermore foreground significant equality between adults and children, even though the responsibility for leading the child to independent adulthood rests upon the shoulders of the adult. "Understanding" is conceptualized in terms of the responsibility of the adult to fully understand the nature of the child - in order to create fruitful teaching and learning situations. The definition of "trust" connects the need to venture into the unknown, the importance of full acceptance and appropriate expectations, security, love and warmth. Landman defi nes "authority" by stressing the importance of good example and the need for children to participate in decisionmaking. He stresses that deep and mutual understanding and authentic trust are prerequisites for authority within the adult-child relationship. Throughout the article, I mirror the reflections about Landman's work by pointing towards the key precepts of good theories, e.g. the fact that good theories consist of simple elementary theoretical constructs (such as understanding, trust and authority), that they explain observable phenomena in the natural world, they are logical, they connect certain constructs and they are descriptive in nature. Several contemporary studies on understanding, trust and authority are connected to Landman's work. The studies quoted straddle a variety of scientific disciplines. The studies which explore "understanding" show the links between the words we use to describe the world and our understanding of it. It also shows how "understanding" is viewed beyond an individual personal relationship. Studies in this fi eld also seem to have become strongly systemically inclined. When it comes to studies on "trust" the nuanced view of trust becomes evident. I foreground the fact that there are various types of trust as well as various degrees of trust identifi ed in recent studies. The need to conceptualize trust on a systemic level emerges again from current studies. The anti-authoritarian intellectual discourse has changed the way in which "authority" is being conceptualized today - of the three constructs under discussion here, perhaps the most signifi cantly. While Landman has been consistent in warning about the penurious effect of defi ning authority without trust and understanding, current studies have a stronger focus on the links between authority, power and knowledge production, the need for non-aggressive authority and the connections between prosperity and power. Based on these observations, the article concludes with the three arguments stated in the first paragraph of this summary, e.g. a proposal to expand Landman's conceptualizations beyond the individual adult-child educational relationship, ii) retaining the intrinsic associations between the three constructs, and iii) including systemic complexities with regard to understanding, trust and authority in Education.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2011 · Tydskrift vir Geesteswetenskappe
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    ABSTRACT: The Kgolo Mmogo study is a randomised controlled intervention trial that examines the effectiveness of a group intervention to enhance resilience in HIV-infected South African mothers (N = 427) and their young children (N = 435). We describe here how the severity of psychological and social problems experienced by some of the study participants required referrals for other services and discuss the barriers encountered in facilitating such referrals. Over a 30-month period 54 mothers and 59 children were referred for additional support. For mothers, the most frequent reasons for referral related to domestic violence and problems within relationships, while for children the most common grounds for referral were the evaluation and treatment of behavioural problems and severe emotional disturbances, including depression. Eight children were referred for suspected abuse. Observations from the study demonstrate that current systems for referral are overloaded and that there is a paucity of specialised services available. Our experience suggests that participants may benefit from using the intervention as a first point of support and that psychosocial referrals should perhaps be delayed until functional advice is provided (within the group) on ways of accessing wider support effectively. The intervention may also benefit from the inclusion of an intervention team member who is specifically tasked to follow up on referrals. This includes follow-up for participants who were not included in the group intervention. Furthermore, we argue that socio-economic constraints, which often manifest as lack of mobility to access service delivery, can severely impact on the implementation of an intervention study in a developing context. This constraint is experienced in terms of limited access to experimental intervention groups and services from referrals.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2011 · South African journal of psychology = Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir sielkunde
  • K. Mohangi · L. Ebersöhn · I. Eloff
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    ABSTRACT: In this case study, we utilized a Resilience framework and Sense of Coherence theory to understand how a group of children coped while living in an Institution as a consequence of HIV/AIDS. We followed a qualitative and Interpretivist approach. The experiences of nine children (5 girls and 4 boys) aged between 11 and 15 years is highlighted. The primary data generation strategy was Informal Interviews. However, we based these Interviews upon participatory task-based and multimodal activities incorporating visual (drawings, pictures), auditory (stories, conversation), tactile (clay modeling) and kinaesthetic (role play) activities to stimulate conversation and discussion. All interviews were voice recorded and the contents thereof, thematically analysed. Children living In this institution use the following Intrapersonal coping strategies: a sense of spiritual connectedness, disengagement (fantasy, denial and detachment), and positive Intrapersonal characteristics. Intrapersonal sources of resilience help children to establish meaningfulness and comprehensibility in their lives on a continuum of engagement or disengagement. They use spiritual connectedness and socially responsible behaviour to engage and fantasy, denial and detachment to disengage.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Journal of Psychology in Africa
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    ABSTRACT: This article describes an action research intervention to augment community-based volunteer counsellors’ support capacity. We conducted a case study with purposefully selected community-based volunteers (N = 30). From a narrative and positive psychology framework we developed and implemented an intervention which focused on memory box-making (MBM). The participants’ ranges of psychosocial competencies were explored pre- and post-intervention by way of observation, focus-group discussions, as well as informal conversational interviews. We found that the volunteers acquired the skills and applied them competently.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · Education as Change
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    Anna-Marie Wium · Brenda Louw · Irma Eloff
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    ABSTRACT: Language is required for learning, but educators often find it difficult to facilitate listening and language skills while they have to adapt to a new national curriculum with an outcomes-based approach for which they have not necessarily been adequately trained. A multifaceted support programme was developed for foundation-phase educators to facilitate listening and language for literacy and numeracy, with a particular focus on language for numeracy. The aim of the research was to determine the value of this particular support programme for foundation-phase educators in two different contexts (a semi-rural and a township context). A mixed methods approach with a concurrent, equal status triangulation design was used, where qualitative data were transformed to quantitative data in order to be compared in a matrix. The results show that the participants benefited to varying degrees from the programme. The combination of workshops, practical and mentoring components proved to be an effective means of support. The results indicate a need for pre-training selection procedures as more effective support can be provided to homogeneous groups.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · The South African journal of communication disorders. Die Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir Kommunikasieafwykings
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    Ina Joubert · Liesel Ebersöhn · Irma Eloff
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    ABSTRACT: Children in South Africa are educated to identify with democratic values and democracy in post-apartheid society. As yet, we have no empirical evidence on their views on and identification with the new South African democracy. When given an opportunity to express their life experiences, the 9-year-old child citizens of this case study revealed their democratic identity on various levels. These children expressed a weak identification with democracy on the local level but a strong identification with democracy on the national level. The authors argue that the weak identification on the local level may influence the children’s identification with democracy negatively. It is the key finding of this study that a lack of democratic identification may endanger the sustainability of the South African democracy into the future.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2010 · Childhood
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    I. Eloff · A. de Wet
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    ABSTRACT: This research entailed an ethnographic study that sought assets and resources to enrich pre‐school learning in a community challenged by poverty. The aim of this research was to identify personal and environmental assets that could be used to enrich pre‐school learning within this context—instead of focusing on needs and deficiencies. The assets included objects and artefacts that could be used for pre‐school learning. Observations, field notes, interviews, photographs and artefacts were used to study the community while participating as a member of the community. Numerous assets were identified. Seven main themes were derived from a collective summary of data. The main themes were: children, culture, man‐made products, the natural environment, local institutions and citizens' associations, crafts and caretakers. The themes were expanded into categories and subcategories. The results of this research study suggest that this particular community is rich with potential, opportunities and material to enrich the pre‐school learning of children.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2009 · Early Child Development and Care
  • I. Eloff · L. Ferreira · J.G. Maree
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    ABSTRACT: The study, on which this article is based, explored the ways in which primary school children in an urban (city centre) setting experience the assets and resources that support their learning. The researchers used a qualitative phenomenological research design incorporating an Interpretive and constructivist perspective. The study was conducted in a primary school in Tshwane, Gauteng province, South Africa. The participants were eight African female participants in Grades 5-7 who had overcome extrinsic barriers to learning. They participated in a focus group discussion during which the relevant and natural units of significant statements were listed (horizontalisation) and structured into central clusters of meanings. Textural themes (what) and structural themes (how) were Identified. The study found that human resource assets were central to the process of connecting a variety of assets that supported learning. The study also found a significant compound effect of assets, for example increased connected assets had a noteworthy additional positive effect on learning support. The identified assets interrelatedly mobilised other assets (textural findings) on one of five levels (structural findings: physical assets, social assets, safety assets, esteem assets and self-actualisation) in various systems and contexts that contribute to learning support. This article elaborates on these findings.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2009
  • T. Lopes · I. Eloff · S. Howie · J.G. Maree
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    ABSTRACT: This study focused on understanding and explaining how teachers experience children in their classrooms who may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The study was a qualitative study in which 17 teachers from three different schools In Gauteng, South Africa, were interviewed. Content theme analysis was conducted on the textual data. Findings from the study indicate that (1) the teachers kept children who might have ADHD busy with different activities in order to manage their classrooms more effectively, (2) the teachers believed that children who might have ADHD challenged them, and (3) the teachers believed that they needed to share Information with other teachers on how to manage and support children who might have ADHD and also that they needed outside assistance from a specialist. The study points to the complex experiences of teachers who have to deal with children with ADHD in their classrooms and recommends Increased collaboration between professionals and teachers.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2009 · Journal of Psychology in Africa