Research supports the need to prepare students socially—as much as academically—to ensure a successful transition to middle school and foster subsequent academic success. In fact, students’ pre-transition social interactions play a critical role in their academic achievement following the transition to middle school. However, current social interventions delivered in education settings typically produce more modest effects on student outcomes than desired, possibly due to their inability to adapt social training to the needs of individual students. Further, tools that allow educators to simultaneously implement a social intervention and measure its impact on students’ social functioning are lacking. Through this SBIR Phase II project, we will continue iterative development and refinement of highly innovative Intelligent Social Tutoring System (ISTS) software with the capacity to dynamically adapt training to the individual student and document their progress toward specific measurable social goals. We will conduct a series of tests to demonstrate the product’s usability, feasibility, and promise for generating intended student outcomes. This new social intervention will be specifically designed to improve 5thgrade students’ ability to cope with the social challenges of middle school to socially prepare them for a successful middle school transition and foster their subsequent academic success.
The primary commercial application will be the ground-breaking Hall of Heroes software and social intervention package leveraging technology to provide (a) an engaging, powerful, and individualized social learning experience for 5th grade students; (b) unprecedented professional development tools and on-going implementation support for teachers; and (c) real-time Reporting Center through which educators can monitor and document students’ progress toward specific measurable social goals. By enhancing students’ social problem solving skills needed to navigate the social challenges of middle school, Hall of Heroes holds the potential for significant and lasting impact on the quality of students’ school-based social and academic adjustment.