Continuing with our interview series with this summer’s USAC visiting scholars, it’s my pleasure to introduce Estibaliz Ramos Diaz, assistant professor at the Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology at the Faculty of Education and Sport (Teacher Training) of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). She is from the Basque capital, Vitoria-Gasteiz (donde se hace la ley). At the same time, she works as a professor-tutor at the Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatments at the Faculty of Psychology of the National Distance Education University (UNED).

Estibaliz received her Ph.D. in Psychology with her dissertation “Resilience and psychosocial adjustment in adolescence” at the UPV-EHU. One of her master´s degree is in Psychodidactics: Psychology of Education and Specific Didactics, also from the University of the Basque Country. She also has a master´s  in Teacher Training for Compulsory Secondary Education, Upper Secondary Education, Vocational Training and Foreign Language Teaching with a specialty in educational Guidance from the UNED. As if that wasn’t enough, she also has a master´s degree in Clinical and Health Psychology from the Higher Institute of Psychological Studies (ISEP) and another in International Migration (Specialty: Research and Social intervention) from the Comillas Pontificial University, Madrid (Spain).

Before starting her academic career at the University, she worked as a psychologist in several areas of psychological intervention, such as substance abuse prevention, prison population, and child maltreatment. Estibaliz is currently teaching undergraduate courses in the area of developmental and educational psychology at UPV/EHU, as well in the area of personality, evaluation and psychological treatments at the National Distance Education University (UNED). She has been visiting researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and has collaborated with researchers from the College of Education and the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC). Her research interests focus on subjective well-being and school engagement associated with resilience and emotional intelligence, as well as with contextual variables.

What brought you to the Center for Basque Studies and UNR? How long were you here? 

I visited the UNR and the Center for the Basque Studies for two months in the summer of 2017. I was awarded a scholarship for a research stay by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) to develop a research programme about resilience at the UNR.

What was the goal of your project/research?

The negative image of adolescence which prevailed in the field of education throughout the last century resulted in greater interest being shown in problematic behaviors and limitations than in research into and the fostering of adaptive, healthy behaviors (Oliva et al., 2010). Nevertheless, over recent years, those working in the field of educational psychology have increasingly preferred to study the positive qualities of adolescent students, rather than focus on their deficits (Froh, Huebner, Youssef, & Conte, 2011; Kristjánsson, 2012). In accordance with the belief that every adolescent has the potential to become a well-adjusted individual, this new approach highlights the need to foster psychosocial human development in educational contexts by promoting competences that enable young people to cope successfully with their personal lives and make a positive contribution to society (Madariaga & Goñi, 2009).

Many factors are involved in an individual’s successful adaptation, but during adolescence, as Lerner et al. (2013) indicate, one particularly significant indicator of psychological adjustment is resilience, a concept which has attracted a considerable amount of attention in the school field due to the key role played by these institutions as promoters of well-being (Toland & Carrigan, 2011). Many interpretations have been offered regarding this construct, which has sometimes been understood not only as a variable that facilitates adaptation, but also as an indicator of adolescent development (Masten & Tellegen, 2012). Despite the lack of consensus regarding its definition (Fletcher & Sarkar, 2013), researchers increasingly agree in defining resilience as the ability to cope adequately with the developmental tasks inherent to a specific development stage, despite the risks that same stage poses (Masten, 2014). During adolescence, young people develop a set of individual and contextual characteristics that help them cope positively with stressful life events (Wright, Masten & Narayan, 2013).

Taking into account the relevance of resilience in the psychological adjustment and school engagement of adolescents and youth, the overall objectives of my research plan are listed below:

– To carry out a bibliographic research about the efficacy of resilience training programs in a school context in order to evaluate whether they are effective in promoting personal and school skills in adolescents and youth.

– To adopt an assessment instrument to measure adolescent resilience into Basque.

– To design a psycho-educational programme to promote resilience in school-aged youth, and assess its effects on various variables: psychological well-being, school engagement, and academic outcomes.

– To get in touch with other professionals in the field of adolescent resilience promoting international contacts and enabling future investigations.

– To establish future possible collaborations between the two universities implying new research, transcultural studies, publications, international networks…

What did you accomplish?

In collaboration with USAC, I got a sample of more than 400 American undergraduate students from UNR for a pioneering cross-cultural study to compare a structural model of adolescence adjustment with a matched group from UPV/EHU. In this sense, I expect to publish scientific manuscripts, as well as present my research results in several congresses. I also got in touch with other professionals in the field of adolescent/youth resilience and arranged several meetings in order to promote international contacts and to enable future research.

I wrote a scientific manuscript in collaboration with the international researcher Margaret Ferrara to promote cross-cultural studies from the University of the Basque Country. In this sense, we hope to publish the results in a journal in the field of Educational Psychology.

I had the opportunity to spread the knowledge in the field of resilience and education and learn from experienced researchers of the UNR in the field. Lastly, I took part in the seminar entitled “The role of resilience and emotional intelligence in adolescent life satisfaction” in the Fall 2017 Basque Studies Multidisciplinary Seminar Series at the Center for Basque Studies, in collaboration with Iratxe Antonio-Agirre.

Did the Center for Basque Studies help you in any way?

The Center for Basque Center Studies has been my place of reference at UNR. There I found advice for the use of databases and various resources such as the Writing Center and contacted with interdisciplinary researchers. At a personal level, I met the most significant people of my stay at UNR, and I felt supported at all times.

Did you enjoy U.S.? What about Reno!?

I visited Boise, Seattle, Portland, Virginia City, Carson City, Lake Tahoe, and Pyramid Lake. I loved touring the U.S, but most of all enjoying a good time with great traveling companions from the Center for Basque Studies and USAC.  Regarding Reno, the first impact of the city was negative, but the positive experience I had there changed my feelings. Now, I remember Reno as a charming city that deserves to know in depth!!

What did you miss the most?

Nothing at all!

 

We are so glad to have met you. Good luck with your publications, and see you soon, whether in the Basque Country or in Reno!