Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsWhat were you like when you were around 11 to 15 years old? What changes did you experience? You may or may not remember a lot of specifics, but just like everyone else, you experienced a lot of change. Early adolescence is a time when young people experience rapid and complex changes to their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development, making this a period of time of significant opportunity and risk. In Week 1 of this course, we'll focus on understanding some of the key developmental changes that all young people experience during adolescence and how social and emotional wellbeing impacts on adolescents as learners. We'll also explore the uses of neuroscience in education and ways to help youths embrace lifelong learning.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 secondsIn Week 2, we'll introduce you to a couple of different positive youth development frameworks that are used as a guide when working with young adolescents. We'll examine the components of these frameworks, and ultimately, you'll develop your own positive youth framework. As the key to understanding young adolescents is to listen to their perspectives and experiences we'll reflect on the frameworks through this lens. We'll examine the viewpoints of two young people around what social and emotional wellbeing means to them and also consider the perspective of a teacher, who is highly experienced in working with young adolescents. So, let's make a start.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 secondsTogether, we can begin to better understand how to help adolescent learners develop the skills and mindsets that will help them to thrive.

Welcome to the course

This course will help you to support adolescent learners with their social and emotional wellbeing through a variety of approaches.

This week, we’ll begin our journey together investigating lifelong learning as a context for young adolescent learners. To set the scene, we’ll explain some of the key developmental changes experienced by adolescents and consider the impacts of social and emotional wellbeing on adolescents as learners. We’ll also explore neuroscience in education with a particular focus on social and emotional impacts for cognitive engagement.

Meet the team

Join educators Donna and Katherine - leading researchers from Griffith University - as you learn more about supporting adolescent learners.

Professor Donna Pendergast

Professor Donna Pendergast with barometer showing a rating of high

I am professor and Dean of the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. I commenced my career as a secondary school teacher and in my very first teaching job had three year 8 and three year 9 classes, so I feel from the very beginning of my working career I was destined to focus on teaching and learning for young adolescents.

I had the opportunity to lead the development of the first teacher education program in Australia that put young adolescent learners at the core of the program, and since then have taught, researched and published extensively in the field. My professional work includes initial teacher education and professional learning for classroom teachers with a strong focus on how to engage young adolescent learners emotionally and cognitively to optimise their learning.

I come from a family that placed high value on the transformative potential of education and my aspirations have been shaped by these beliefs. I have an adolescent at home and so I experience first hand the challenges, demands and opportunities this age group face in our contemporary society.

On a five-point scale, ranging from Very Low to Very High, I would rate my current level of understanding of young adolescents’ social and emotional wellbeing as being high - but I am always learning so it can always improve. I strongly believe in the concept of lifelong learning and this has no boundaries.

Dr Katherine Main

Dr Katherine Main with barometer showing a rating of high

I am a Senior Lecturer at Griffith University (Australia), and a Program Director and Advisor in the School of Education and Professional Studies.

I have been involved with young adolescents through youth groups and through my teaching for over 30 years and really enjoy working with this age-group.

I am very involved with a number of organisations in Australia and overseas that are dedicated to researching and promoting positive outcomes for young adolescents through providing targeted professional development for teachers and educating teachers, parents and community members about the importance of adolescence as a developmental stage.

On a five-point scale, ranging from Very Low to Very High, I would rate my current level of understanding of young adolescents’ social and emotional wellbeing as high. Although I have been working and researching in this field for almost 20 years, I am continually learning and enjoying the journey.

Your task

Watch the welcome video to find out what we’ll cover in this course.

Select the Follow links on Donna’s and Katherine’s profile pages to make sure you see the comments they make.


Get extra benefits, upgrade your course

You can now get extra benefits by upgrading this course, including:

  • Unlimited access to the course: Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.
  • A Certificate of Achievement: To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible.

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This video is from the free online course:

Supporting Adolescent Learners: Social and Emotional Wellbeing

Griffith University