Transition to High School

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Peers Helping Peers:

The Effectiveness of a Peer Support Program in Enhancing Self-Concept and Other Desirable Outcomes


Louise A. Ellis

B. Psych (Hons.), Macquarie University

A thesis submitted to the School of Psychology, University of Western Sydney, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

May, 2004

© L. A. Ellis, 2004

Dedicated to my parents, who have always believed in me and who taught me to never give up on my dreams.


I would like to thank my supervisors, Professor Herbert Marsh and Associate Professor Rhonda Craven, for their continued encouragement, guidance and support throughout the course of my candidature. I am particularly grateful for their assistance with the research design, statistical advice and comprehensive feedback on my thesis chapters. It has certainly been both a privilege and a pleasure to have been supervised by you both.

I am also grateful to the Peer Support Foundation, Catholic Education Commission, Austalian Research Council, as well as the principals and staff from the participating schools, for their cooperation and kind permission to carry out the research. Thanks must also go to the participating students for their time and continued effort throughout the study. Additionally, I am grateful to Garry Richards, Dr. Andrew Martin, Roberto Parada, Danielle Tracey, Katrina Simpson, Trin Ha and Linda Finger for their assistance at various stages of the research.

Special thanks must go to my husband, Joey, for his overwhelming patience and understanding. Without your love and support, I’m sure I would have never made it through my candidature. Special thanks must also go to my parents, for their unwavering support and confidence in me. I am also grateful to my brother, Graham, for his endless patience in sorting out my computer problems. Finally, I would like to thank all of my friends for providing me with an outlet through our regular chats and coffee breaks. I feel very lucky to have had such strong support from so many people as I have travelled along this difficult and often frustrating path.

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