Nov 29, 2007


Learning Training (SLT) is a program which is designed for both unassertive and
aggressive children to help them have more positive assertive interpersonal
interactions. In the program, students attend a series of three training
sessions which use direct instruction and modeling techniques to help students
learn about assertive interactions. A randomized, experimental evaluation
of the program found that it was effective in increasing students’ assertive
interactions with teachers, peers, and parents. This program impact was
observed in both students who were unassertive and those who were aggressive
prior to the program.


Target population: High school students
who are either unassertive or aggressive when interacting with others

In the Structured Learning Training (SLT) program,
unassertive or aggressive students attend three in-school sessions lasting
approximately an hour each. During sessions, students listen to
audiotapes which explain what assertiveness is and give examples of assertive
interactions. Students then have some time to rehearse and practice
assertive interactions with a group leader and also have the chance to practice
assertive behavior with group leaders between SLT session.


Pentz, M. A. W.
(1980). Assertion training and trainer effects on
unassertive and aggressive adolescents. Journal
of Counseling Psychology, 27
(1), 76-83.

Evaluated population: 90 ninth grade
students at a suburban high school. 49 of the students met the study
criteria for “unassertive” behavior and 41 met criteria for “aggressive”
behavior. Fifty-two percent of the sample was female and the mean age of
students was 14 years.

Approach: Teachers at the school first selected 100
students for the program based on either unassertive or aggressive interactions
with those students. Students were observed and assessed using the
Syracuse Scales of Social Relations. Those who were consistently scored
by at least 2 of their 4 teachers as unassertive or aggressive were included in
the study. After meeting criteria for the study, students were matched on
sex and assertiveness, either unassertive or aggressive, and then randomly
assigned to 1 of 10 conditions. These conditions varied based on the student’s aggressiveness, and the type of training that the
student received; the conditions were SLT with teachers, parents, or students
as trainers, verbal instruction, or a control condition. Students in the
SLT intervention conditions received three 55-minute long sessions led by
teachers, students, or parents who emphasized their connection to the student’s situation in different ways. The students
leading the sessions emphasized their assertive interactions with teachers,
parents emphasized their assertive interactions with their own children, and
teachers emphasized their assertive interactions with fellow teachers.
During each session, students listened to recorded assertive interactions,
modeled and rehearsed assertive interactions during the session, and continued
practicing assertive interactions between sessions. Students who were
assigned to the verbal instruction condition attended one session in which they
met with teachers and heard the same recorded assertive interaction tape, but
did not take part in modeling behavior. The control group did not receive
any intervention. For pre- and post-test assessment, students were given
a self-report measure of assertive behavior, were asked to respond to an
audiotape interaction, and were unknowingly placed in a real-life situation in
which they had to interact with a teacher who rated their behavior.

Results: At pre-test, there were no differences
between groups on any measure, indicating that the groups were
equivalent. At post-test, students in the intervention groups were more
likely to be assertive than those in the verbal instruction only and control
conditions. When students interacted with teachers, those whose sessions
had been led by teachers performed more assertively than the other
groups. Both aggressive and unassertive students were rated as being more
assertive than those in the control and verbal instruction conditions.

Note: Analyses were not designed to adjust for the effect of
clustering within schools.



Pentz, M. A. W. (1980). Assertion training and trainer effects on unassertive and
aggressive adolescents. Journal of Counseling
Psychology, 27
(1), 76-83.

Program also discussed in the following Child Trends publication(s):

Hair, E. C., Jager, J., &
Garrett, S. (2001). Background for community-level work on social
competency in adolescence: Reviewing the literature on contributing
factors. Report prepared for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

KEYWORDS: Adolescent (12-17), High School,
School-Based, Behavioral Problems, Aggression, Education, Skill Training,
Suburban, Social/Emotional Health.

Program information last updated 11/29/07