Program

Aug 08, 2011

OVERVIEW

The Social
Competence Program is a social skills training program delivered to elementary
school children in small groups for one hour per week. The program intends to
impact children’s externalizing behaviors, internalizing behaviors, learning
problems, and peer acceptance. The program is specifically designed for children
at high risk of acting out, shy/withdrawn behaviors, and/or learning problems.
An experimental evaluation of the program found it to have positive impacts on
internalizing behaviors, learning problems, and peer acceptance and mixed
impacts on externalizing behaviors.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population:
Elementary school students at high risk for
acting out, shy/withdrawn behaviors, and/or learning problems.

The Social
Competence Program is delivered by undergraduate students who are trained in
two-hour sessions to deliver the intervention. The program is delivered to small
groups of elementary school children. The groups meet for one hour per week for
fourteen weeks. The program teaches children skills to identify interpersonal
problems, generate alternative solutions, and anticipate the consequences of
their actions. The model posits that children can learn the skills to solve
their problems. These skills are learned in several stages:

  • The first four weeks of the program
    focus on identifying interpersonal problems. This phase of the program
    includes feeling generation exercises, puppet scenarios, and role playing.
    Children learn to define a problem and develop a goal.
  • Weeks five through eight are
    focused on generating alternative solutions to interpersonal problems. This
    phase includes puppet scenarios, role play exercises, group discussions, and
    brief stories. Children are presented with a problem and asked to generate as
    many solutions as possible, without focusing on social appropriateness or
    likely success of the solutions.
  • In weeks 9 through 12, the focus of
    the program turns to anticipating the consequences of solutions. Children are
    asked to determine the best solutions to problems based on social
    appropriateness and likelihood of success. In this phase, group leaders write
    problems and possible solutions side-by-side on a chalk board.
  • The final two weeks of the program
    focus on integrating the components learned in previous sessions into a
    complete problem-solving process. In this phase, groups of children act out
    scenarios involving interpersonal problems, and the remaining children discuss
    the problem and decide on the best solution. The chosen solution is then acted
    out. The theme of this exercise is, “once you have a good solution, try it
    out.”

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Mannarino, A.
P., Christy, M., Durlak, J. A., Magnussen, M. G. (1982). Evaluation of social
competence training in the schools. The Journal of School Psychology, 20,
1:11-19.

Evaluated population:
64 students
6.5 to 8.8 years old were evaluated. The
students were all classified as high-risk based on high scores on a teacher
assessment measuring acting out, shy/withdrawn behaviors, and learning problems.
The sample had more boys (42 total) than girls (22 total).

Approach:
All children in first through third grade at a suburban elementary school were
screened for participation in the study. Children who were deemed at risk due to
their scores on a teacher assessment were randomly assigned to an experimental
group or control group. The children in the experimental group participated in
the Social Competence Program, and control children did not.

Children were rated
by their teachers on two scales of acting out, shy/withdrawn behaviors, and
learning problems once before the beginning of the program (pretest) and once
more within a week of program termination (posttest). Changes in scores from
pretest to posttest were used to assess program impacts. Additionally, all
children in the first, second and third grade participated in pre-test and
post-test peer ratings in which they named their favorite three children to play
with after school, to do a group project with, and to go to another classroom
with. Changes in peer rating scores were calculated for children in the
experimental and control groups and used to examine program impacts on peer
acceptance.

Results: At
posttest, children in the experimental group had made greater improvements on
almost every teacher-rated scale. Experimental group children improved more than
control children on both measures of shy/withdrawn behaviors, both measures of
learning problems, and one of the two measures of acting out problems. Although
teachers were not blind to which children were in the treatment condition,
findings were confirmed by classmates. Specifically, children in the
experimental group made significantly higher gains in peer acceptance scores
than children in the control group.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Mannarino, A. P.,
Christy, M., Durlak, J. A., Magnussen, M. G. (1982). Evaluation of social
competence training in the schools. The Journal of School Psychology, 20,
1:11-19.

KEYWORDS:
Children (3-11), Elementary, Males and Females (co-ed), High-Risk, Suburban,
School-Based, Skills Training, Other Behavioral Problems, Social Skills/Life
Skills, Other Social/Emotional Health, Other Relationships, Other Education

Program information last updated 8/8/11.

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