If I Were Jack - Phase 1

if i were Jack - Phase 1


Developing the Educational Resource

During this phase, the research team worked in partnership with teachers, pupils and parents as well as health and RSE experts to develop Irish and Northern Irish versions of the If I were Jack interactive video drama (IVD) as educational resources suitable for use within the RSE curricula of post-primary schools in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The development phase was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the Irish Health Service Executive’s Crisis Pregnancy Programme and the Public Health Agency Northern Ireland. More information on the outputs generated during the development process, including the end of study report, can be accessed on the ESRC website.

A number of strategies were used to maximise the usefulness and effectiveness of the resource. These include:

  • developing a credible, evidence-based, theory-informed resource which can be feasibly implemented in schools in both jurisdictions, and is amenable to rigorous evaluation
  • ensuring acceptability by involving key health and educational statutory stakeholders in resource development and using an educational modality that engages young people
  • optimizing universal access to the resource by ensuring that it is part of the statutory curricula for all adolescents at Key Stage 4 of the curriculum attending mainstream schools in Northern Ireland (N= 216, reaching approximately 2,400 pupils) and in all schools in Ireland who have a transition year programme (81% of schools reaching approximately 3,200 pupils), in addition to utilising new technologies such as video and the internet to extend national and international dissemination.

The If I Were Jack project builds on our previous research studies relating to young men's attitudes to unintended pregnancy and parent's approaches to communicating with their teenagers about relationships and sexuality (Lohan et al., 2010Lohan et al., 2011Lohan et al., 2012Hyde et al., 2010).

The primary aim of one of these studies was to increase understanding of the psychosocial determinants of adolescent men’s attitudes and decision-making in relation to a hypothetical unintended pregnancy. The primary study (Lohan et al., 2011) adopted an innovative methodological approach. Drawing on earlier research conducted in Australia (Condon et al, 2006Condon et al., 2001), the research team developed a computer based interactive video drama (IVD) for the purposes of the research. Through a film drama entitled ‘If I were Jack’, the researchers attempted to ‘bring to life’ the story of a week in the life of a young man whose girlfriend has just told him she is unexpectedly pregnant.

The study took place in Ireland using an Irish version of the IVD but the team also produced a Northern Ireland version, using Northern Irish actors and settings. The rationale for developing two versions of the IVD was to enable the greatest opportunity for adolescents to identify with the lead character and the situation. 

As part of this study 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. This study was based on a representative sample of male pupils In Ireland (N=360) and a smaller sample of teachers (N=5), and RSE policy experts (N=4).

The adolescent men’s response was almost universally positive and also showed the potential impact in their lives.

79% agreed with the statement 'If I were Jack made me think about issues I hadn’t thought about before’;

85% agreed with the statement 'If I were Jack helped me understand the effect an unplanned pregnancy would have on a guy like me’;

84% agreed with the statement '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.

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]

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]


We have recently commenced research in Ireland exploring the needs of teenage men in relation to RSE. For more information on this study [click here].