"Mission Hope": An Exploration of Children's Experiences of Hope in Middle Childhood

  • Author / Creator
    Iaboni, Kristine N
  • Hope is recognized as an important aspect of human growth, change and wellbeing (Erikson, 1964, 1968, 1985; Turner, 2005). Hope has been defined as the anticipation that one’s future will be both meaningful and desirable (Stephenson, 1991) and is acknowledged as essential to daily life (Erikson, 1968; Hall, 1990; Obayuwana, 1980; Turner, 2005). Although the concept of hope has been extensively researched in adults from multiple perspectives, research remains scarce on how children develop hope, experience hope and understand hope (Larsen & Larsen, 2004; Stephanou, 2011; Turner, 2005; Yohani, 2008; Yohani & Larsen, 2009). To begin to address the existing gaps in research on children’s hope, I examined the research question “how do children in middle childhood (ages nine to 11) experience hope?” Related objectives included exploring how children: (a) understand hope, (b) describe hope, and (c) describe employing hope in their lives. An exploratory, qualitative, interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) design was used to realize the research objectives. A convenience sample of eleven participants was recruited by word of mouth and graduate student forums and list serves. Participants individually engaged in a preliminary interview in which they were provided a digital camera and were instructed to take photographs of anything that represents hope to them or makes them feel hopeful in their lives. Following the preliminary interviews, semi-structured interviews were conducted with each child prompted by his or her photo selections. Six main themes emerged from the findings representing children’s experiences of hope: (1) hope as relational, (2) hope as personal and unique, (3) emotional and embodied hope, (4) hope challenged/hope present, (5) nature as a source of hope, and (6) other-oriented hope. Two additional findings addressed (a) how participants discussed and developed hope through their involvement in the study, and (b) advice participants had for parents, teachers and other children based on their experiences of hope. These eight findings are discussed in relation to relevant hope and developmental literature, providing a deeper understanding of hope experienced in middle childhood. Implications for research, counselling psychology, school and education, and parents/caregivers are highlighted, and future research directions on children’s experiences of hope are discussed. This research is amongst the first of its kind to explore the phenomenon of hope in children, with results assisting in illuminating children’s experience of hope and illustrating the value of engaging with, and talking about, hope with children.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Counselling Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Taylor, Elizabeth (Rehabilitation Medicine)
    • Rinaldi, Christina (Education Psychology)
    • Lehr, Ron (School of Education, Acadia University)
    • Boechler, Patricia (Educational Psychology)
    • McGarvey, Lynn (Elementary Education)