The Early Adolescent Helper Program is a school-based program that requires students to participate in community service activities. The program was found to have positive impacts on self-esteem, depressive affect, commitment to school, and problem behaviors for boys, but not for girls.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
Target population: Adolescents in grades 7 through 9
The Early Adolescent Helper Program is a school-based program that can be implemented in one of two formats: formal or informal. In the formal program, students can either tutor younger children or volunteer at a senior center. The students attend a weekly seminar in which they reflect on and discuss the activities of the past week and keep a weekly journal describing their service work. In the informal program, students select their own service project from a list provided by the school. Parents are encouraged to help facilitate the student’s acitivities. Students’ activities are monitored through forms that must be signed by a parent, a teacher, and a staff member where the student is volunteering. The program aims to deter students from problem behaviors by increasing their self-image and attachment to school.
EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM
Switzer, G. E., Simmons, R. G., Dew, M. A., Regalski, J. M., and Wang, C. H. (1995). The effect of a school-based helper program on adolescent self-image, attitudes, and behavior. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 15, 429-435.
Evaluated population: 171 students in grades seven through nine at a New York City school were evaluated. The intervention group was 52 percent female, 44 percent white, 28 percent Asian, 19 percent Hispanic, 4 percent African American, and 7 percent other. The control group was 56 percent female, 54 percent white, 22 percent Asian, 19 percent Hispanic, 2 percent African American, and 3 percent other.
Approach: Classrooms were randomly assigned to intervention or control groups. Twenty-three percent of intervention students participated in the formal program and the rest participated in the informal program. For the statistical analyses, participants in both versions of the program were analyzed together as the intervention group. Questionnaires were administered to all students two weeks before the start of the program, and at the end of the school year. The surveys contained questions about self-image (including depressive affect), commitment to school and community, problem behavior, and attitudes towards helping (degree to which the student sees him/herself as altruistic, degree to which student feels better after helping others, and his/her commitment to helping others in the future).
Results: There were no significant differences overall between groups on any outcome variable. However, analyses by gender revealed that the boys in the helper program had significant improvement in self-esteem, depressive affect, commitment to school, and problem behaviors, compared to all other students.
SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION
References: Switzer, G. E., Simmons, R. G., Dew, M. A., Regalski, J. M., and Wang, C. H. (1995). The effect of a school-based helper program on adolescent self-image, attitudes, and behavior. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 15, 429-435.
KEYWORDS: Adolescents (12-17), Youth (16+), High School, Males and Females (co-ed), White/Caucasian, Urban, School-based, Parent/Family Component, Self-Esteem/Self-Concept, Other Behavioral Problems, Academic Motivation/Self-Concept/Expectations/Engagement, Helping/ Social Responsibility
Program information last updated 8/23/2011.