Appleby CollegeLife Strategies Programme: Relevant Research Annotations Ray Pidzamecky M.S.W. RSW Director of Youth Support Programs 2003
2To identify and validate a need is a crucially important prerequisite to action. Actionintended to address the need, solve a problem or make things better requires not onlycourage but also tenacity of the highest degree. It is no wonder that social scienceliterature is painfully full of surveys or other systematically obtained information thatdescribe how bad things are. Unfortunately, there is proportionately little reported aboutefforts to make things better. People who undertake such efforts, while few, have made,however great contributions to understanding what works and in so doing encouragementfor others to do likewise. The Appleby College Life Strategies Programme componentsare based on the soundly evaluated efforts of such courageous people. A sampling oftheir contribution follows.EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCEIntroductionThe empirical evidence pertaining to emotional intelligence falls into two kinds. The firstis of the survey kind whereby emotional quotient factors are correlated with success/bestperformance in an occupational group. There is an exponentially growing array ofinformation in this regard available from the publisher of both currently availablemeasurement tools. The EQi is a self-report standardized instrument, which has beencorrelated with success in an ever broadening list of occupations. The MSCEIT is moreof an ability measure of emotional intelligence. It too is being correlated withoccupational group success. Less information is available about this instrument becauseof its more recent introduction.The Life Strategies initiative at Appleby College while based on the research thatoccupational success is influenced less by grades and more by emotional intelligence, isjustified essentially by the data that emotional intelligence can be promoted/improvedupon by deliberate/focused effort.The emotional – literacy/intelligence educational courses have remote roots in the‘affective-education’ movement of the 1960’s. Many of these courses and themomentum for their spread came from an ongoing series of school-based preventionprograms, each targeting a specific problem: teen smoking, drug abuse, pregnancy,dropping out, and most recently violence. Prevention programs were found to be farmore effective when they teach a core of emotional and social competencies, such asimpulse control, managing anger, and finding creative solutions to social predicaments.
3W.T. Grant Consortium on the School-Based Promotion of Social Competence, Drug andalcohol prevention curricula. In David Hawkins et al., (eds) Communities that care, SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992.This was a five-year project sponsored by the W.T. Grant Foundation, in which aconsortium of researchers studied prevention programs identifying theingredients crucial to the success of the ones that worked. The list ofcompetencies, regardless of the specific problem a program was designed toprevent are virtually identical with the competencies that define emotionalintelligence.Clarke, Gregory, The prevention of depression in at-risk high school adolescents. Paperpresented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Oct. 1993.In a special after-school class, seventy-five mildly depressed students learned tochallenge their thinking patterns associated with depression. They learned tobecome more adept at making friends, to get along better with their parents, andto engage in more social activities they found pleasant. By the end of the eight-week program, 55% of the students had ‘recovered’ from their mild depression,while only about 25% of equally depressed students who were not in the programhad begun to pull out of their depression. A year later 25% of those in thecomparison group had gone on to fall into a major depression, as opposed toonly 14% of the students in the depression prevention program. While only eightsessions long, the program cut the risk of depression in half.Asher, Steven & Williams, Gladys, Helping children without friends in home and schoolcontexts. Children’s social development: Information for parents and teachers. Illinois;University of Illinois Press, 1987.Third and fourth graders least liked in their classes were identified. They weregiven six sessions in how to ‘make playing games more fun” through being“friendly, fun and nice.” To avoid stigma, the children were told that they wereacting as ‘consultants’ to the coach, who was trying to learn what kinds of thingsmake it more enjoyable to play games. The children were than coached to act inways that were found to be typical of more popular students. This minicourse ingetting along had a remarkable effect: a year later the children who werecoached were solidly in the middle of classroom popularity. None were socialstars, but none were rejects.
4Nowicki, Stephen. A remedial procedure for nonverbal processing deficits. Unpublishedmanuscript, Duke University, 1989.Social outcasts were trained to hone their ability to reach and respond adaptivelyto other children’s feelings. The children, for example, were videotaped whilepracticing expression of feelings such as happiness and sadness, and thencoached to improve their emotional expressiveness. They then tried out theirnewly honed skills with a child they wanted to make friends. A 50% to 60%success rate was found in raising the popularity of rejected children.Woods, Don, Developing problem solving skills: The McMaster problem solving program.Journal of Engineering Education, 1997.A 120 hour program designed to develop skills in: self-management, problemsolving, interpersonal and group kills, self-assessment, change management,and lifetime learning were made compulsory for engineering students.Improvements were obtained not only between baseline and post programresults but also in job performance as reported by those who recruit exclusivelyfrom the engineering program before and after the introduction of the mandatoryproblem-solving component.
5SOCIAL ECOLOGYThe importance of environment on individual and group functioning has a long traditionof being examined and interventions evaluated. Social ecologists have focused theirattention on correlating well-defined environmental characteristics with the psychosocialfunctioning of its inhabitants. Repressive environments, for example have been shown toinhibit development or to regress its inhabitants to lower stages/phases of functioning in adesperate attempt to find a way of being which was previously associated with comfort.Similarly, regressive environments have been found to precipitate authoritarian, self-serving cognitions and behaviours from its inhabitants. In contrast supportive socialnetworks, opportunities to participate and influence one’s environment have been foundto be positively correlated with psychosocial well being and positive development.Most social ecological research has been conducted in institutional settings, focusing onwhat variables combine to create a certain ‘climate’ and how conditions in a particularenvironment are perceived from the perspective of staff and those who the environment isintended to serve.Moos, R.H. Systems for the assessment and classification of human environments: Anoverview. In Rudolf H. Moos and Paul M. Insel (eds.), Issues in social ecology. Palo Alto:National Press Books, 1974.Environmental assessment systems for a variety of settings ranging from homesfor the aged to correctional facilities are described. The organizational specificassessment tools were found to characterize settings in a valid and reliablemanner. Predominant features (eg a program focus) are described as associatedwith individual positive benefits whereas other features (eg rules and regulationsfocus) are described as having less beneficial impact on individuals. Theenvironmental assessment tools’ capability to tap into how staff and clients viewthe climate is described as revealing where, and how to intervene so that agreedupon objectives can be pursued.DeLeon, G. & Melnick, G. Therapeutic community scale of essential elementsquestionnaire. New York: Community Studies Institute, 1993.The tool assesses the extent to which a program has the generic characteristicsof a therapeutic community by measuring treatment approach and structure,community as a positive change agent, education and other activities. Theinstrument is reported to have good reliability and validity and when used tocharacterize an environment to predict within acceptable confidence levelsindividual functioning.
6Wells, L.M. Singer, C., & Polgar, A.T. To enhance quality of life in institutions: Anempowerment model. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.With the use of a Multiphasic Environmental Assessment Procedure thisdemonstration project characterized control and experimental group facilities alsoincluding the perceptions of staff compared to the perceptions of clients. Theinformation was then used to design interventions with which to impact onconditions that were found to be divergent from the theoretical ideal. Theinterventions are reported to have achieved the intended results includingcongruence between staff and client perceptions. When combined with otherchanges a significant improvement in the quality of life as experienced by thepeople who work and live in the experimental group facilities is reported.
7MORAL DEVELOPMENTThe study of moral development can be categorized into longitudinal studies whichproduced and confirm a cross cultural, invariant hierarchical sequence and interventionsspecifically designed to promote the acquisitions of the next stage of moral reasoning towhere the individual currently functions.The intervention programs invariably take place in institutional settings and rely onenvironmental conditions as well as, clearly defined interventions by staff. Additionally,some research has also focused on the family as a qualitatively different and perhapsmore primary social environment for development. In all, the basis for intervention andevaluation is grounded in what has come to be known as the Kohlbergian view that‘development is the aim of education’ and that ‘just education’ is best achieved through ajust community approach that includes moral discussion.Power, Clark. The just community approach to moral education. Journal of MoralEducation, Vol. 17, Number 3, October 1988.This paper describes the evolution of the just community approach to moraleducation. It examines the evolution from the discussion of moral issues as ameans of promoting moral development to the introduction of morecomprehensive approaches that successfully combine democratic and collectivistvalues. The experimental programs described were located in public highschools. Evaluation of the programs support a conclusion that it is possible anddesirable to establish cultures based on principles of a just community becausesuch cultures are conducive to the development of socio-moral reasoning andaction.Lickona, Thomas. Creating the just community with children. Theory Into Practice, Vol.XVI, Number 2, April, 1977.This paper examines the benefits of moral discussion with elementary schoolstudents. Class meetings, which involved the whole group, conducted in a circlefor 15-30 minutes, were most effective when held every day. Some teachersheld the meetings twice a day, once at the end of the morning and once at theend of the afternoon. The positive moral atmosphere created by the discussionsare reported to have precipitated changes in stage of moral reasoning althoughsmall and slow to appear when measured by traditional ‘interview’ methods. Anobservational rating scale, however, that measures 12 dimensions in a classroom setting is described as more easily applied and capable of quantifyingchildren’s developmental gains.
8Lind, G. Educational environments which promote self-sustaining moral development.Paper presented at the 1996 meeting of AERA/Division E. New York.Lind, G., & Althof, W. Does the just community program make a difference? Measuring andevaluating the effect of the DES project. Moral Education Forum, 17 19-28, 1992.Lind, G. & Wakenhut, R. Testing for moral judgment competence. In G. Lind, H.A.Hartmann, & R. Wakenhut (eds), Moral development and the social environment: Studies inthe philosophy and psychology of moral judgment and education. Chicago: PrecedentPublishing Inc., 1985.All three references describe the basic tenants of just community/democraticeducation, correlating quantitative and qualitative environmental features withmoral developmental gains. The ‘better’ the environment the more pronouncedare the moral developmental gains which are also evidenced by concomitant(socially responsible) behaviours.Kohlberg, L., Scharf, P., & Hickey, J. The Justice structure of the prison: A theory and anintervention. The Prison Journal, Vol. 11, No. 2, 1971.This is considered to be one of the most seminal works in the design of a justcommunity and measuring the impact it has on the moral perspective andbehaviour of individuals. In part the just community design was based onunderstanding how the prison’s autharian, repressive sometimes punitiveenvironment is antithetical to development and to survive require regressiveideas and behaviours from those who have achieved higher stages of moralreasoning. In part the just community was also modeled on high schoolinitiatives, which produced a one-stage upward movement in 33% to 50% of thestudents compared to 5% of the students in control populations. The greatestaccomplishment of the program initially is described as a move to sociallyresponsible self-government followed by moral stage perspective development.