3-C ISD reguarly publishes in journals in the fields of child psychology, developmental psychology, school psychology, social psychology, character education, and child and family studies.
This paper describes the design and evaluation of Zoo U, a novel computer game to assess children’s social skill development. Zoo U is an innovative product that combines theory-driven content and customized game mechanics. The game-like play creates the opportunity for stealth assessment, in which dynamic evidence of social skills is collected in real time and players’ choices during game play provide the needed data. To ensure the development of an engaging and valid game, we utilized an iterative data-driven validation process in which the game was created, tested, revised based on student performance and feedback, and retested until game play was statistically matched to independent ratings of social skills. We first investigated whether data collected through extensive logging of student actions provided information that could be used to improve the assessment. We found that detailed game logs of socially relevant player behavior combined with external measures of player social skills provided an efficient vector to incrementally improve the accuracy of the embedded assessments. Next, we investigated whether game performance correlated with teachers’ assessments of students’ social skills competencies. An evaluation of the final game showed (a) significant correlations between in-game social skills assessments and independently obtained standard psychological assessments of the same students, and (b) high levels of engagement and likeability for students. These findings support the use of the interactive and engaging computer game format for the stealth assessment of children’s social skills. The innovative design methodologies created should prove useful in the design and improvement of computer games in education. Read the full article.
This study tested whether social adjustment added to the prediction of academic outcomes above and beyond prior academic functioning. Researchers collected school records and peer-, teacher-, and self-report measures for 1,255 third-grade children in the fall and spring of the school year. Measures of social adjustment included social acceptance by and aggression with peers. Academic outcomes included math and reading grade point average, classroom behavior, academic self-esteem, and absenteeism. As expected, the researchers found support for the causal model such that both forms of social adjustment contributed independently to the prediction of each area of academic adjustment. Gender differences were present in the patterns of results, particularly for the impact of aggression on academic adjustment. Discussion focuses on the implications for social-emotional literacy programs for preventing negative academic outcomes. Read the full article.
Career advancement in the field of mental health research poses numerous challenges to researchers who are women and persons of color. The current study describes the development and testing of the Leadership Training Institute (LTI), a training program designed to provide knowledge and support for career advancement for these mental health researchers. Although other career development programs have been created for diverse populations in a variety of fields, the LTI is unique in both its training content and its demonstrated evidence base. To examine the effectiveness of the LTI, live and web-based training delivery modes were compared. Participants (n=37) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: live-only training, web-only training, or a combination of live and web training. Findings reveal a significant gain in knowledge essential to research career advancement for all conditions from pre-training to 9 months post-training. In 6- and 9-month post-LTI follow-up analyses, combination group participants scored significantly better than live-only and web-only groups in career advancement knowledge. The benefits of combining live and web-based career development training for researchers who are women and persons of color are discussed.
This study tested the efficacy of a new social skills intervention, Social Skills GRoup INtervention-High Functioning Autism (S.S.GRIN-HFA), designed to improve social behaviors in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders. Fifty-five children were randomly assigned to S.S.GRIN-HFA treatment (n = 27) or control (i.e., traditional S.S.GRIN intervention; n = 28). Examination of the direction and magnitude of change in functioning revealed that children who participated in S.S.GRIN-HFA exhibited significantly greater mastery of social skill concepts compared to children in the control group. Parents of S.S.GRIN-HFA group participants reported an improved sense of social self-efficacy, whereas parents of control participants reported a decline. The advantages of a specialized intervention such as S.S.GRIN-HFA, designed specifically for children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders, are discussed.
This study investigated selection and socialization as contributors to homophily of internalizing problems during middle childhood. Longitudinal social network analyses were conducted to determine the extent to which similarity on depression, loneliness, and social anxiety influences friendship formation (i.e., selection) as well as the extent to which friendship contributes to similarity on these variables (i.e., socialization) across one academic year. Participants included 1,016 third grade students in 11 schools. Results suggested that children tended to select others with similar levels of loneliness, but not depression or social anxiety, as friends. In addition, children’s levels of loneliness, depression, and social anxiety became more similar to the average level of their friends over time. Discussion focuses on the consistency of the findings with studies of older populations as well as methodological considerations relevant to future studies.
This study investigated teacher preference, the degree to which a teacher likes a specific student, as a predictor of students' perceptions of teacher preference as well as conflict and support in the student-teacher relationship. Child and teacher reports of teacher preference and child reports of conflict and support were provided in the fall and spring of one academic year. Participants included 1,104 fourth-grade students in 10 schools. Results indicated that teacher preference predicted change in children's perceived teacher preference. In addition, lower levels of teacher preference directly predicted higher subsequent levels of conflict, but not support. Because teacher preference and children's perceptions of teacher preference were related, lower levels of teacher preference also indirectly predicted higher levels of conflict and lower levels of support. Discussion focuses on the implications of the findings from a dyadic systems conceptualization of student-teacher relationships. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This paper describes a study of a prototype of a novel game-based intelligent tutor that teaches children positive social skills. The results provide considerable support for the potential value of this game as a social skills training tool, despite the comparatively brief play-through duration of the prototype. Key to the initial success is a development framework that fostered deep collaboration and rapid prototyping between the subject matter experts and game designers.
This study examined perceived behavioral atypicality as a predictor of children's school-based adjustment. First, a descriptive pilot study was conducted to examine children's reasons for nominating peers as behaviorally atypical. Then, atypicality was investigated in relation to school-based adjustment in a two-wave panel design. Social problems, emotional adjustment, and academic achievement were assessed in the fall and spring of a school year with 1,193 third-grade students via peer-, teacher-, and self-report instruments as well as school records. In the fall, atypicality was related to higher levels of social rejection and peer victimization as well as impaired emotional adjustment and academic achievement. When examined across the school year, atypicality, as mediated by higher levels of social rejection and peer victimization, predicted impaired emotional adjustment and academic achievement. Discussion focuses on the importance of considering behavioral atypicality as a broad risk factor with implications for school-based intervention.
This study examined aggressive and pro-social classroom descriptive norms as predictors of change in aggression and victimization during middle childhood. Participants included 948 children in third through fifth grade. Measures of teacher-reported aggressive and peer-reported pro-social descriptive norms were completed at the onset of the study. Children completed self-report measures of aggression and victimization on three occasions during one academic year. Multilevel growth models were analyzed to determine the amount of student-reported change in aggression and victimization attributable to the classroom norm variables. Results indicated that students in classrooms with higher initial mean levels of aggression reported larger increases in aggression and victimization over the school year. In contrast, boys with higher initial levels of aggression reported smaller increases in aggression than boys with lower initial levels of aggression, and both boys and girls with higher initial aggression reported declining victimization over the school year. Pro-social classroom norms were unrelated to change in aggression and victimization. The implications of the findings for future studies on the influence of classroom social norms as well as interventions for aggression and victimization are discussed.
We evaluated the efficacy of a social skills training intervention designed to improve adolescents’ social, emotional and behavioral adjustment, Social Skills Group Intervention-Adolescent (S.S.GRIN-A). Seventy-four adolescents (ages 13–16 years) and their parents were randomly assigned to either the treatment group (N = 40) or a wait-list control group (N = 34). Adolescents in the treatment and control groups were compared on global self-concept, social self-efficacy, internalizing problems, and externalizing problems pre- and post-intervention. Youth in the treatment group demonstrated enhanced global self-concept, increased social self-efficacy, and decreased internalizing problems as compared to youth in the control group. No differences in externalizing behavior were found. We discuss the effectiveness of S.S.GRIN-A as a general program designed for addressing a range of adjustment issues and social skill deficits in adolescents.
This study assessed the importance of teacher preference of individual students, relative to peer rejection and student aggression, as an independent predictor of children's emotional adjustment and grades. First, a longitudinal, cross-lagged path analysis was conducted to determine the patterns of influence among teacher preference, peer rejection, and student aggression. Then, parallel growth analyses were examined to test whether lower initial and declining teacher preference, beyond the influence of initial level and change in peer rejection and student aggression, predicted change in loneliness, depression, social anxiety, and grades. Social adjustment, emotional adjustment, and academic adjustment were assessed in the fall and spring of two consecutive school years with 1193 third-grade students via peer-, teacher-, and self-report instruments as well as school records. In the cross-lagged path analysis, reciprocal influence over time between teacher preference and peer rejection was found, and student aggression predicted lower teacher preference and higher peer rejection. In the growth analyses, initial and declining teacher preference were independent predictors of increasing loneliness and declining grades. Discussion focuses on the relevance of the results within a transactional model of school adaptation.
We tested the efficacy of a social skills training program for the parents of school-aged children experiencing socio-emotional problems. Participating families (N = 42) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: parent social skills training; parent plus parallel child social skills training; or no-treatment control. The two treatment groups did not differ on any of the outcome measures. Treatment was associated with improvements in parent and child social skills knowledge, parent social problem solving, and child emotional functioning. In follow-up analyses examining mechanisms of change, parental attendance and change in child social skills knowledge predicted response to treatment. Overall, our results highlight the utility of engaging parents as primary participants in the treatment of children’s socio-emotional problems and suggest methods for maximizing the impact of such an intervention.
The LifeStories for Kids series is a school-based, storytelling intervention for elementary school students designed to increase life skills and character education. To assess the effectiveness of the program for improving children?s social behavior, 1,975 students in 4 elementary schools in central North Carolina participated in a program evaluation. Using a quasi-experimental design with covariate adjustment for initial differences, schools were randomly assigned either to the intervention or control groups. In the intervention group, all regular education teachers implemented parallel versions of the program (for Grades K-2 and 3-5) as part of the school curriculum. Students participating in the intervention experienced statistically significant improvements in social behavior (K-2 program: improved prosocial skills and decreased direct aggression; 3-5 program: decreased direct aggression and immature-impulsive behavior) as compared to students in the control group. Discussion focuses on the effectiveness of LifeStories for Kids as a preventive, school-based character education program.
This study assessed school climate for both interpersonal and intrapersonal character traits and examined the links between school climate and students’ perceptions of safety at school. Sixty-four elementary and 159 secondary students completed questionnaires in the spring. Findings revealed that character traits were reliably assessed for both grade levels. School climate was significantly related to safety, particularly interpersonal and environmental safety, while criminal/delinquent safety concerns were less related to character. Both interpersonal and intrapersonal character traits were related to students’ perceptions of safety. Discussion focuses on possible linkages connecting school climate and safety and the need for further research.
This study tested the long-term effectiveness of a social-skills program for peer-rejected, victimized, and socially anxious children. Third-grade children with peer problems were randomly assigned to treatment (TX; n = 187) or no-treatment control (CO; n = 194) groups. One year after the intervention, the pattern of findings was similar to that at post-intervention; however, several new group differences emerged. Additional positive treatment effects were found, including higher social acceptance and self-esteem and lower depression and anxiety. Lower aggressive behavior was found, particularly for initially more aggressive children. Several gender differences emerged where treatment effects were present for girls but not boys. The demonstrated value of teaching social skills to children experiencing peer problems is discussed and suggestions for future research are offered.
This study tested the efficacy of a generic social skills intervention, Social Skills GRoup INtervention (S.S.GRIN), for children experiencing peer dislike, bullying, or social anxiety. Third-grade children were randomly assigned to treatment (n = 187) or no-treatment control (CO; n = 194) groups. Examination of the direction and magnitude of change in functioning revealed that S.S.GRIN increased peer liking, enhanced self-esteem and self-efficacy, and decreased social anxiety compared to controls. S.S.GRIN was equally efficacious for all subtypes of peer problems targeted. Particular benefits were found for aggressive children who showed greater declines in aggression and bullying behavior and fewer antisocial affiliations than aggressive control participants. Discussion focuses on the benefits of heterogeneous versus homogeneous groups of participants and the potential value of utilizing generic social skills training protocols.
Since September 11, 2001, ethnic tensions involving persons of Middle Eastern descent have increased in the United States. This study examined the peer relationships of 748 fifth grade students of different ethnic groups both at one month and eight months post-9-11. Results indicated that only Middle Eastern children showed a large drop in positive peer nominations and popularity over the course of the school year. Bullying of Middle Eastern and Hispanic students also showed a significant increase. Given that peer problems and bullying are detrimental to the school climate and promote violence, the need for proactive school-based programs to foster racial tolerance is discussed.
This study investigated whether the perception of self as socially rejected might contribute to increased physical aggression among elementary-school children. It was hypothesized that physically aggressive children would become more physically aggressive over time if they perceived that they were rejected and tended to blame peers for social failure experiences. Third-grade boys and girls ( n = 941) were assessed in the Fall and Spring of the school year. Peer-report data on physical aggression and social preference were collected, along with self-report data on perceived rejection and attributions for social failure experiences. Results for boys were consistent with hypotheses, whereas the results for girls revealed a different pattern of relations. These results constitute prospective evidence that children's self-perceptions of social rejection can uniquely influence externalizing behavior. Results are discussed in terms of mechanisms that might mediate the relation between perceived rejection and physical aggression.
This study assessed the strength of sociometric classification in the prediction of concurrent sociobehavioral adjustment. Differential adjustment for subgroups of unclassified children were also examined. Participants were 881 fifth graders (ages 9 to 12). Classification strength (CS) and unclassified subgroups were determined through newly developed algorithms. CS added significantly to the prediction of all areas of adjustment. For example, highly rejected children were at extreme risk for victimization whereas highly controversial children were most likely to be bullies and relationally aggressive. Unclassified subgroups were found to exhibit adjustment problems mirroring those of their extreme status group counterparts. Findings support that increasing the sensitivity of sociometric measurement results in both greater predictive strength and enhanced understanding of underlying social processes.
The purpose of the present study was to examine similarity in demographic, behavioral, academic and social attributes as descriptors and predictors of children's friendships. The characteristics of all possible pairs of unique classroom dyads (N = 4725) were used to predict reciprocated school, home and best friendship choices among 554 third (M = 9.38 years old) and fourth ( M = 10.47 years old) graders. Peer reports of aggressive and withdrawn behavior and sociometric status, teacher reports of poverty, and archival reports of sex, race and academic achievement were obtained. The main finding was that as similarity increased, the likelihood of being friends also increased. Specifically, patterns of gender, race, poverty, aggression, withdrawn behavior, achievement and sociometric status between dyad members were descriptive and predictive of children's friendships.
4 models (risk, protective, potentiator, and person-environment fit) comparing the associations among ethnicity, income, and structural characteristics of families and neighborhoods on childhood aggression and peer relations were explored. The 1,271 second- through fifth-grade (M = 9.9 years) children were assigned to 1 of 8 family types based on ethnicity, income, and household composition, and their addresses were used to define low- or middle-SES neighborhoods using neighborhood census data. Middle-SES neighborhoods operated as a protective factor for reducing aggression among children from high-risk families, interacted with family type to produce poor person-environment fit resulting in a greater likelihood of being rejected by one's peers, and potentiated the development of home play companions for children from low-risk families. Developmental and gender differences were also explored. Results are discussed in terms of the need for broader contextual factors to be considered in studying children's social and behavioral development.
Very little is known about the influence of the social-psychological context on children's aggressive behavior. The purpose of this research was to examine the interrelations of group contextual factors and the occurrence of aggressive behavior in 22 experimental play groups of 7- and 9-year-old African-American boys. Group context was examined before, during, and after an aggressive act as well as during nonaggressive periods. The results showed that there are dimensions of group context (i. e., negative affect, high aversive behavior, high activity level, low group cohesion, competitiveness) that were related to the occurrence of aggressive behavior between 2 children in the group. Group context influenced how children reacted to aggression between its members (e. g., siding with the victim), which in turn influenced the quality of the postaggression group atmosphere. This study suggests that individual-within-context information be incorporated into theories of aggression among children.
The experience of peer rejection is associated with a number of concurrent and later problems for children. However, we know very little about differences in risk relative to different experiences of rejection over time. This study examined later academic and behavioral problems as a function of two dimensions by which rejection may vary over time: chronicity and temporal proximity. 622 second through fourth-grade children (ages 7-12) were tested in the spring of 4 consecutive years. The results indicated that both chronicity and proximity directly influenced later adjustment. Taken together, the findings suggested that all levels of rejection were associated with greater absenteeism from school, and more chronic and proximal experiences of rejection were associated with elevated externalizing behavior problems and teacher-rated internalizing behavior problems. There was evidence that initial level of adjustment, gender and development moderated the relation among these dimensions of rejection and later adjustment.