Enhancing social-emotional and character development for youths' success : a theoretical orientation and an evaluation using a cluster-randomized design Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/8910jx124

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  • Interest in social-emotional and character development (SECD) programming has intensified in recent years. SECD-related programs often seek to enhance a variety of health-related outcomes by addressing multiple influences and embracing a comprehensive approach that includes youth, school personnel, families, and communities. Alongside a comprehensive approach arises the need for a comprehensive, integrative theory. To address this need, the first manuscript serves as 1) an empirical review of the SECD-related literature and 2) a theoretical orientation whereby the Theory of Triadic Influence provides a roadmap to guide the design and evaluation of SECD-related programs. The second and third manuscripts examine one example of a SECD program, Positive Action (PA), utilizing data from the PA Hawai`i trial conducted from 2002-03 through 2005-06. The trial was a matched-pair, cluster-randomized, controlled trial that included 20 racially/ethnically diverse schools. Specifically, the second manuscript builds upon previous research and examines a mechanism whereby improvements in academic-related behaviors mediated the PA program effects on negative behaviors. Structural equation models, with a latent academic behavior mediator, indicated that students attending program schools reported significantly better academic behavior. Program effects on student-reported substance use, violence, and sexual activity were mediated by greater academic behavior. Teacher reports corroborated these results. The third manuscript explores the impact of the PA program on school-level indicators of school quality, thereby examining the ability of a SECD program to create contextual, whole-school change. Teacher, parent, and student archival school-level data were analyzed to examine indicators of school quality such as student safety and well-being, involvement, and satisfaction, as well as overall school quality. Program schools demonstrated a significant improvement in individual indicators and overall school quality compared to control schools. Therefore, consistent with theory, a SECD program demonstrated the ability to enhance school quality and facilitate whole-school change.
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