The Academic Tutoring and Social Skills Training program is a social competence and academic achievement intervention for grade-school children who are socially rejected and have serious academic problems in reading or mathematics. The program draws on the social skills training procedures of Gary Ladd and the skills-oriented academic learning model of Michael and Lise Wallach. The social skills training component consists of a trainer working with a child once a week for six weeks. The essence of this component involves pairing a target child in play with another child from the classroom and coaching the target child in appropriate behaviors (such as participation, cooperation, communication, and validation or support) before and after these play periods. The academic skills training component involves having the student meet with tutors twice a week for individual 45-minute sessions. The essence of the academic skills training involves a detailed and graduated method of teaching by building cumulatively on secondary skills that the child has already mastered. The application of behavioral techniques is used to help the child develop a sense of efficacy and self-confidence.
A random-assignment, experimental design with control group and a pretest/posttest follow-up assessment was used to test the differential effectiveness of the academic tutoring and social skills training on low-achieving, socially rejected fourth-graders. Children were eligible for the study if they were peer-nominated as socially rejected and if they had low scores in reading or mathematics, as rated by the California Achievement Tests (CATs). Forty children were randomly assigned to one of four clinical intervention conditions: academic skills training (AS), social skills training (SS), combination (AS and SS), and control. The sample consisted of African-American children, 29 male and 11 female, from a lower to lower-middle socioeconomic population in seven Durham, North Carolina, city schools. Students were assessed at the end of third grade (pretest), the end of fourth grade (posttest), and the end of fifth grade (follow-up) on sociometric ratings (peer nomination and roster-rating measure) and on CAT scores. Classroom observations were made at pretest and posttest. At follow-up, only 28 of the 40 participants were available for CAT assessment, and 32 of the 40 were available for the sociometric data.
Results indicated that students in the AS condition had significant improvement in reading, math, and social preference scores. Significant gains were made in reading comprehension, mathematics application, and mathematics computation, with marginally significant effects for reading vocabulary. All but the math progress was sustained at follow-up. While all three treatment conditions produced significant improvements in peer ratings, the AS condition was superior to the SS and the combined condition. Regarding behavioral observation, AS groups increased in their solitary on-task behavior time and decreased their solitary, nondisruptive off-task behavior. The AS group also received significant increases in positive teacher attention. Though the social skills training component adopted for this program had shown efficacy with other populations of children, in this study the AS component was the most effective in promoting positive change on achievement and social preference scores.
OJJDP Model Programs Guide: Effective program
Mr. John Lochman
University of Alabama
Post Office Box 870348
348 Gordon Palmer Hall
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487–0348
Phone: (205) 348-7678
Fax: (205) 348-8648
Coie, John D., and Gina Krehbiel. (1984). “Effects of Academic Tutoring on the Social Status of Low-Achieving, Socially Rejected Children.” Child Development, 55:1465–78.
Ladd, Gary W. (1981). “Effectiveness of a Social Learning Method for Enhancing Children’s Social Interaction and Peer Acceptance.” Child Development, 52:171–78.
Wallach, Michael A., and Lise Wallach. (1976). Teaching All Children to Read. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.