Evaluation of Curriculum-Based Support Group (CBSG) Programs in Improving Psychosocial Behaviors in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade Students

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2018-03-14

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Nejtek, Vicki
James, Rachael

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Abstract

Background. Tarrant County has the second highest number of confirmed abused/neglected children in Texas. Studies show maltreated children tend to develop poorly in certain psychosocial domains (i.e. confidence, cooperation, participation, decision-making, listening skills, peer interactions) which can affect academic performance, and mental health. Socioemotional learning programs in a classroom setting may mitigate such negative trajectories in ‘at-risk’ students by improving outcomes in these domains. The aim of this study is to evaluate curriculum-based support group (CBSG) programs in improving these psychosocial behaviors. Methods. Secondary data analysis was conducted on maltreated or ‘at-risk’ maltreated children in kindergarten through 3rd grade (K-3). All races/ethnicities were included. Students attended small group sessions designed to enhance confidence, cooperation, participation, listening skills, appropriate interactions, and good decision-making skills. Pre- and post-program report card grades were used to measure improvement in math, reading, science and social studies. Psychosocial domains in the pre-, post, and 1-year post-program conditions were measured using a Likert Scale. Descriptive statistics and frequency distributions described the sample. Wilcoxon paired t-tests analyzed pre- and post-program improvement. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Wilks Lambda with post-hoc corrections for multiple comparisons evaluated 1-year post-program follow-up. A 95% confidence interval (p= 0.05) was used. Results. Participants (N=719) showed improvement in individual domains of: 36% confidence (t=10.29, p=0.0001), 28% cooperation (t=-10.89, p=0.0001), 26% participation (t=-8.38, p=0.0001), 26% listening skills (t=-9.57, p=0.0001), 31% decision-making (t=-9.27, p=0.0001), 24% peer interactions (t=-7.84, p=0.0001). Aggregated domains continued to improve 1-year post-program by 4.3% (t=-2.073, p=0.041) in a subset of participants (N=96). Academic performance also improved in a small sample of participants (N=24) by 8% in math, 7% science, 6.3% reading, and 5.3% social studies. Conclusion. These data indicate that the CBSG program is effective at improving psychosocial behaviors in ‘at-risk’ children, and has the potential to mitigate negative trajectories up to a year. Evidence is encouraging that CBSG may also improve academic performance, although a larger sample size and control group is needed in future evaluations.

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