If i were jack: An educational Resource
Information for Schools
If I Were Jack can be used in same-sex and mixed-sex classrooms by both young men and young women aged 14 and older. It can be delivered by teachers and RSE facilitators.
How will we involve schools in the Phase III Trial of the If I Were Jack Research Study?
Our pilot trial in Northern Ireland with eight schools, showed that, If I were Jack is worth testing on a wider scale and we also found out that the film would work best in England and Wales with English actors. So we will consult with pupils again to redo the video and make some other minor changes to the intervention, so it can be used across the UK. We will then do a cluster randomised trial, in which we will compare the results of using the intervention amongst pupils aged 14-16 in 33 schools against the results for pupils of the same age in 33 comparable schools where normal practice will continue. First, we will do surveys to find out about each school’s students. Then, an independent group will randomly decide which schools will deliver the intervention and which schools will not. This allows a fair comparison. About a year after the intervention has been delivered by trained teachers in half of the schools, we will go back to all the schools to do a second questionnaire to find out if the pupils’ behaviours, as well as their knowledge and attitudes, have changed. We will know if the intervention is effective if fewer pupils who used it tell us that they have had unprotected sex than those who did not have access to it. We use pupils’ reports of unprotected sex because if this educational resource can reduce unprotected sex, it follows that it will reduce unintended pregnancies. Alongside this research, we will examine the financial costs and benefits of using the intervention and do interviews with pupils and teachers to gather their opinions on how it worked.
What is If I Were Jack?
If I Were Jack is an educational resource about young men and unintended pregnancy. It includes an interactive video drama (IVD) which tells the story of Jack, who has just found out that his girlfriend is unexpectedly pregnant. The user is encouraged to put themselves in Jack’s shoes and consider how they would feel if they were in his situation.
While the resource encourages discussion of the options that may be open to a young person if they experience an unintended pregnancy (i.e. keeping the baby, adoption and abortion) there is no suggestion that any of these options is optimal. Rather, the resource directs the young person to consider all of the options and their consequences, thereby encouraging reflection on the decisions a young person might have to face in that situation. The resource also provides opportunities for the teacher to identify the school’s position on some of these issues and the resource materials also facilitate young people to discuss the issue with their parents or guardians.
The resource includes a computer-based IVD, a training package for teacher trainers, educational materials to assist teachers in facilitating classroom discussions around the issues raised in the IVD, and web-based educational materials for parents including animations etc. The IVD can be used by young people on individual computers or by teachers on an overhead screen.
The resource has been designed for use within the relationship and sexuality education curricula (RSE) of post-primary schools in Northern Ireland and Ireland, although it also has potential for use internationally and outside of school settings.
If I Were Jack is designed to help young people avoid an unintended pregnancy during their teenage years. It is especially intended to help young men become aware of their responsibilities in avoiding an unintended pregnancy during adolescence.
The resource invites both male and female users to put themselves in Jack’s shoes encouraging them to reflect on the consequences of such a situation in their own lives. The key educational aims of the resource are to provide young men and women with:
- Increased awareness of the potential negative consequences of unintended pregnancy and available support services;
- Increased awareness of personal attitudes, values and beliefs in relation to unintended pregnancy;
- Improved self-efficacy in communicating about unintended pregnancy; and
- Increased awareness of gender norms associated with unintended pregnancy.
If I were Jack can be used in same-sex and mixed-sex classrooms by both young men and young women aged 14 and older. It can be delivered by teachers and RSE facilitators.
While the resource is intended to be used in classroom settings there is also potential for its use with individual young people or in other group settings such as youth groups or residential settings.
The resource has been developed by a research team at Queen’s University Belfast in collaboration with key health and education partners in Northern Ireland and Ireland which include the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, the Council for Curriculum Education and Assessment Northern Ireland, the Health Services Executive Crisis Pregnancy Programme Ireland and the Department of Education and Skills Ireland.
Teachers, parents and young people were also consulted as part of the development process.
What was Previous Research in Schools taught us?
In a previous phase of the project the research team assessed the educational impact of the resource with end users and received overwhelmingly positive responses from teachers, pupils, and health and education sector professionals (Lohan et al., 2011).
The adolescent men’s response was almost universally positive and also showed the potential impact in their lives.
o 79% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that it ‘made me think about issues I hadn’t thought about before’;
o 85% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that it ‘helped me understand the effect an unplanned pregnancy would have on a guy like me’;
o 84% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that If I were Jack ‘made me aware that I could talk to a counselling service if I were in Jack’s situation.’
Teachers also endorsed the educational benefits of using the IVD in the classroom. In relation to its uniqueness, teachers commented:
I think it is addressing a gap, a very definite gap there between the knowing how a girl gets pregnant and the actual consequences of somebody saying it to you, “I’m pregnant” and all the feelings that would go through them. [Teacher 1]
We’ve wonderful videos all about reproduction and the clinical ends of things. Real life scenarios, we’re very, very poor on. [Teacher 2]
For being useful to generate communication skills within a mixed gender environment, teachers commented:
There was a period afterwards [after the students completed the IVD] where they were very eager to discuss it and I could imagine in a classroom situation that that being a very real opportunity. [Teacher 1]
I think it would be a very good module, not just alone from the point of view of adolescent pregnancy, but just from the point of view of the whole thought process of a decision that has to be made and how to think it through and how to work out the positives and negatives. [Teacher 4]
RSE educational specialists commended its authenticity and its interactive features:
It’s so different from the mainstream stuff, just the tone of it is completely different, the setting is completely different, the language is completely different. [The mainstream stuff] is almost sterile in its content in comparison. [Specialist 1]
I strongly recommend that you take it forward as an educational tool. I’d love to be able to give that to teachers. It is so different; it is so different, the perspective, the interactiveness, the boy’s perspective and the quality of the filming and everything is very good. [Specialist 4]