Research Article Critique- Group Assignment

timer Asked: Nov 21st, 2016

Question description

Please follow instructions for this paper below: if you have any questions feel free to let me know.

Grading criteria

Marking Guide Percentage/Points Breakdown

Depth of Content (70%)

10 grading criteria X 7= 70

  1. Social problem
  2. Literature review
  3. Intervention
  4. Research questions or hypotheses
  5. Study variables
  6. Data collection process
  7. Sample selection
  8. Methodological study design
  9. Presentation of data analysis and findings
  10. Authors’ presented discussion





Depth of coverage




Sources of evidence for your critique


Format (30%)

3 grading criteria x 10=30

Grammatical expression and scholarly sentence structure in writing


APA-6 referencing for outside sources. (All outside sources should be listed on a reference page, at the end of your critique)


1. Social Problem

Identify the social condition or social problem under study in this article. Explain how and why this topic is relevant and important to social work practice and evaluation. 10 points </p>


2. Literature Review

<p>Does it justify and support the intent or purpose of the research study, and does it justify any research questions or hypotheses that the authors developed? Is the literature review adequate? 10 points </p>


3. Intervention

<p> Read carefully the description of the intervention. To what extent do the authors use any theoretical framework for presenting the intervention or in relation to the social issue being studied? Is the intervention clearly described in respect to how it was applied and implemented in this evaluation? 10 points </p>


4. Research questions or hypotheses

<p> Present any research questions or hypotheses guiding the study and the evaluation process. Do the authors explain the importance of the research questions or hypotheses? Are these justified based on the article’s literature review?) 10 points </p>


5. Study variables

<p>Identify the main variables in the study, and explain how they are conceptually and operationally defined. Do the instruments have adequate information regarding their reliability and validity? How well is this information presented? 10 points</p>


6. Address the data collection process

Examine the data collection approach. How well do the authors describe it and does it seem adequate? Do the authors explain how any ethical or diversity considerations were addressed? 10 points


7. Sample selection

Examine the sampling strategy or method. What specific sampling method was used? How were participants selected and recruited? To whom are the results generalizable? Is this a representative sample of the population that authors sought to study? 10 points


8. Methodological study design

Identify the research design. Is it adequate for this evaluation? In what way does it support any causal inference the authors are trying to show? What are the specific threats/biases to internal or external validity this design poses? Based on the authors’ discussion, could the study be replicated? 10 points


9. Presentation of data analysis and findings

Does the data analysis approach meet the needs or purpose of this investigation? Are the findings explained clearly and logically in view of the study’s research questions and hypotheses? 10 points


10. Authors’ presented discussion

Evaluate the article’s summarizing discussions. Do the authors adequately acknowledge the strengths and limitations of their evaluation approach? Do they make sound recommendations for future research? Finally, would you recommend this study for social work practice? Why or why not? 10 points


Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal Volume 18, Number 2, April 2001 Mentoring At-Risk Latino Children and Their Parents: Impact on Social Skills and Problem Behaviors Theresa Barron-McKeagney, Ph.D., Jane D. Woody, Ph.D., and Henry J. D’Souza, Ph.D. ABSTRACT: The Family Mentoring Project, which provided approximately one year of mentoring for at-risk 10-year old Latino children and their parents, aimed to provide not only service but empirical evaluation of the program’s impact. This University-community partnership offered individual mentoring, a group educational component for children and parents, and group social/recreational activities. A pre- and post-test analysis of 11 nonmentored and 20 mentored youth revealed positive gains on social skills for mentored children as reflected in self-ratings and mothers’ ratings on the Social Skills Rating Scale (SSRS). Also based on the SSRS, mothers reported decreases in three problem behaviors for mentored children. In addition, by Theresa Barron-McKeagney is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work, University of Nebraska at Omaha. She served as faculty consultant and later as faculty coordinator of the Family Mentoring Program (FMP). Jane D. Woody is a Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and was the initial faculty coordinator of the FMP. Henry J. D’Souza is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and was a faculty consultant with the FMP. Address correspondence to Theresa Barron-McKeagney, Ph.D., School of Social Work, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE 68182-0293; e-mail: The Family Mentoring Program (FMP) began in November, 1995, as part of a larger U. S. Office of Education Grant (CFDA 84.252A), which partnered the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, University of Nebraska at Omaha, with various segments of the community in an effort to address youth violence. The FMP received new funding in October 1997, as part of a grant from the U. S. Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD 1044), awarded to the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, University of Nebraska at Omaha. The present research study covered the initial funding period of January 1996 to November 1997. For their hard work and dedication to the FMP, the authors thank the Community Coordinator, Alberto Cervantes, and student interns Ann Barker, Susan Davis, Cindy Klein, Carmen Ridenour, Eric Stec, Engracia Jimenez, Carol Rick, and graduate assistants Heather Tingelhoff, and Brett Phillips. 119  2001 Human Sciences Press, Inc. 120 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL post-testing, the mentored children and their mothers compared very favorably with the SSRS standardized samples on both skills and problem behaviors. The findings suggest that bicultural competence may be fostered by programs that provide consistent and long-term mentoring, involve the children’s families, include group educational components, and bring families and mentors together for social/recreational events. KEY WORDS: Latinos; At-Risk Behavior; Mentoring; Children. During the past decade youth mentoring has become a topic of growing interest in education and the human services. Mentoring programs have largely targeted adolescents and teens, usually minorities (Balcazar, Majors, Blanchard, & Paine, 1991; Blechman, 1992; Payne, Cathcart, & Pecora, 1995; Roberts & Cotton, 1994); those at risk of school dropout (Blum & Jones, 1993; Slicker & Palmer, 1993); those in foster care (Payne et al., 1995; Mech, Pryde, & Ryecroft, 1995); those at risk of drug abuse (LoSciuto, Rajala, Townsend, & Taylor, 1996); and teen mothers (Rhodes, 1993; Zippay, 1995). Mentoring is essentially a process aimed at strengthening an individual at risk through a personal relationship with a more experienced and caring person. Through shared activities, guidance, information, and encouragement, the individual gains in character and competence and begins setting positive life goals. Mentoring can help the person to get on a successful life track, specifically, by preventing premature derailment that often comes with school dropout or involvement with drugs, crime, and violence (Flaxman, Ascher, & Harrington, 1988; Freedman, 1991; Blechman, 1992). In spite of the rapid expansion of mentoring programs for “at risk” or low-achieving youth, studies have offered little empirical documentation for the effectiveness of mentoring and the benefits to participants. A recent comprehensive review of evaluations of youth development programs noted the “paucity of high quality outcome evaluations of programs fitting the youth development framework” (Roth, BrooksGunn, Murray, & Foster, 1998). Blechman (1992) believes that mentoring programs should have goals that translate to success for atrisk youth and should conduct research using multiple methods and multiple respondents for evaluating the effectiveness of mentoring. The following brief review of evaluation studies that focus specifically on mentoring will allow for clarification of the intervention and evaluation goals of the present study. Blum and Jones (1993) relied on teachers’ evaluations of the progress shown by 22 seventh- and eighth-grade students (at risk of drop- T. BARRON-MCKEAGNEY, J. D. WOODY, AND H. J. D’SOUZA 121 ping out) who participated in a school-based mentoring and peer group counseling program. The mentoring component consisted of daily contacts by various types of school personnel who served as mentors, and the group consisted of 8 to 10 weekly sessions that focused on improving academic performance, study habits, and interpersonal skills for the school setting. Teachers completed the evaluation form for students at the beginning and end points of the eight-week group counseling experience. Based on evaluations by teachers, but without any statistical analysis, students in the program were judged to have improved in promptness to, and preparation for, class; quantity and quality of daily assignments; classroom participation, behavior, and interaction with peers; and report card grades. More significant improvements were claimed for students whose mentors were actively involved with them, although, again, no statistical support was offered for this claim. The brief discussion concluded that absences continued to be a major problem but that the group and mentoring program can be helpful to students at risk of school dropout. Roberts and Cotton (1994) evaluated a mentoring program for 11th grade African-American students (30 boys and 46 girls) in which mentors provided one hour per week of contact that focused on providing practical advice and motivation, setting goals, and evaluating academic performance. After three months, the mentored group compared with a control group (students with less than one month of mentoring), achieved a non-significant higher mean score on school self-esteem, but there were no differences in global self-esteem and grade point average. The authors concluded that future evaluation of mentoring efforts should include a longer experimental period and give close attention to variables expected to be sensitive to mentors’ influence. In a study of a six-month long, school-based mentoring program for 22 at-risk 10th grade students, Slicker and Palmer (1993), comparing a control and the experimental group on dropout rate, self-concept, and academic achievement, found no significant differences. Further analysis of effectively mentored (E, n = 9) vs. ineffectively mentored (I, n = 13) students revealed that the E group showed a trend toward a lower dropout rate, an improvement in academic achievement approaching significance (p = .06), but no differences in self concept. The authors emphasized that future programs and evaluations should monitor students’ entry characteristics and the integrity of the mentoring, and should target younger children. A large-scale study of Big Bothers/Big Sisters (Grossman & Tierney, 122 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL 1998) conducted an evaluation of the effect of 18 months of mentoring on 571 youths ages 10 to 16. The study included a variety of measures, some of which seem to be more reliable and valid than others, but did not elaborate on measures and data collection. Based on youths’ selfreports, those in the program, compared to controls, were 46% less likely to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start using alcohol, with minority youths showing greater benefits with regard to drug use. Program youth also reported less hitting, but no differences for times sent to the principal’s office, damaging or stealing property, doing “risky” things, fighting, cheating on tests, or using tobacco. Again, based on self-reports, program youth earned moderately higher grades, had half as many school absences, skipped fewer classes, and felt more competent about doing schoolwork. While mentored youth reported better relationships with parents and peers, they had no gains in self-concept or participation in social and cultural activities. A strong empirical evaluation of a year-long, multi-faceted mentoring program for 562 “high-risk” sixth-grade students focused primarily on substance abuse and related factors, self-perception, well-being, and attitudes (LoSciuto, Rajala, Townsend, & Taylor, 1996). The majority of students were African-American (52%), and mentors were older adults (55 +) who were supposed to spend four hours per week with students in a variety of activities. Other program components included a 26-session classroom life skills curriculum, community service activities to benefit the frail elderly, and workshops for parents. Analysis centered on a control group (C), a group who completed only the life skills program and parent workshops (PS), and a group which had the added component of mentoring (MPS). Seven of eleven measures showed significant or marginally significant differences among groups. On these seven measures the MPS group scored better than the C group on six measures: attitude toward school, future, and elders; attitude toward older people; knowledge of older people; reactions to situations involving drug use; community service; and frequency of substance use. The MPS group also had significantly fewer school absences than the other two groups. The authors concluded that interventions in multiple domains are critical for success, including family, peers, school, and neighborhood and that adult relationships are important in the lives of young people. Of the studies reviewed above, only that of LoSciuto et al. (1996), using several extant instruments, offers convincing empirical documentation for the effectiveness of mentoring with an at-risk group. The group that had both mentoring and other program components T. BARRON-MCKEAGNEY, J. D. WOODY, AND H. J. D’SOUZA 123 achieved the most gains, especially in terms of positive attitudes, appropriate reactions to drug use, and fewer school absences, but no differences appeared in regard to stress reactions, self-perception, problem solving efficacy, and well-being. The present study remedies some of the limitations of prior evaluations in using standardized measures, offering a longer intervention, obtaining entry characteristics of both children and families, and monitoring the extent of mentoring and other involvement in the program. This report focuses on two of several outcome measures—social skills and problem behaviors—as indicators of the effectiveness of a mentoring program for young at-risk Latino children. This federally funded model program, in addition to offering service, conducted extensive empirical evaluation of the program’s effectiveness. Reported elsewhere are evaluations of the program’s effect on student self-concept and school performance (Barron-McKeagney, Woody, & D’Souza, 1999b) and on the parent child relationship and family strength (Barron-McKeagney, Woody, & D’Souza, 1999a). Background of the Family Mentoring Program (FMP) The Family Mentoring Program was unique in several ways. It targeted young ten-year-old children. It aimed to include parents in some activities. It was a long-term project with the goal of offering approximately 18 months of mentoring for the youth. It targeted a transitional, at-risk neighborhood that had been under-served by community programs. It focused on community partnerships and was based in a neighborhood agency, the Chicano Awareness Center (CAC), rather than in schools, and it served primarily Hispanic youth whose parents were often recent, non-English speaking immigrants. The FMP was coordinated by the University School of Social Work. A newly hired bilingual Latino community coordinator and two student interns initially implemented the project under the supervision of a campus-based faculty coordinator and two faculty consultants. The goal of the mentoring program was twofold: to increase children’s effective participation in a variety of positive community activities, including school life; and to increase parents’ participation in community services that would improve their parenting abilities. The assumption was that beyond mentoring, participation in community life offers “protective factors” that can decrease risk, e.g., for involvement in violence, drugs, and gangs (Garmezy, 1985). In addition to 124 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL individual mentoring for the children, the program sponsored group educational and social/recreational/volunteer activities for both youth and their parents and offered referral and case management as needed. The FMP sought referrals of children to the program through personal contacts with, and information provided to, community partners in the neighborhood—churches, social service agencies, and schools. Recruitment continued for approximately 9 months. Since it was a new program being offered in a locale and to families not accustomed to social services, time was needed to disseminate information, gain the trust of parents, and carry out the tasks of clarifying the program, enrolling children, and doing assessment and case management. Method Participants The participants consisted of 49 children from an area in Omaha, Nebraska, which had been designated as high risk due to multi-ethnic diversity, socioeconomic factors, crime, and youth violence. Included were 21 males (43%) and 28 females (57%); ages at the time of enrollment ranged from 8.7 to 11.8 (M = 9.95, SD = 0.77), with school grade placement as follows: third (12, 25%), fourth (18, 37%), fifth (14, 29%), sixth (5, 10%). The racial make-up was as expected: Latino, 82%, Caucasian, 10%, African-American, 4%, Native American, 2%, Other, 2%. The youth came from families in transition: 63% of children had been born in the United States, while 37% had been born in Mexico. Regarding the primary spoken language: for children, it was English for 76% and Spanish for 24%; but for mothers, English as a primary language dropped to 41% and Spanish rose to 59%. Religious denomination was Catholic, 74.5%; Protestant, 10.6%; none 12.8%; and other, 2.1%. Family demographics focused on mothers: 61% were married; 22%, divorced; and 14%, single-never married. The majority of mothers were Hispanic (74%) and 63% had been born in Mexico. Regarding employment, 55% of mothers were employed outside of the home, only 14% received aid to dependent children, and of those employed, a large majority (79%) worked in service or factory/labor jobs. Thirty-nine per- T. BARRON-MCKEAGNEY, J. D. WOODY, AND H. J. D’SOUZA 125 cent had 6 or fewer years of education, and only 25% had finished high school. Measures Several types of measures were used to assess the children and their mothers. A detailed family information form asked for basic demographic characteristics, the child’s and parent’s community involvement, problems, and use of resources. School grades and attendance record were obtained from each child’s permanent record that the school system provided. Standardized inventories were also used. Of interest in this study, the Elementary Level Social Skills Rating Scale (SSRS) provided a measure of children’s social skills, which are “socially acceptable, learned behaviors that enable a person to interact effectively with others and to avoid socially unacceptable responses” (Gresham & Elliot, 1991, p. 1). The child’s form of this 34-item self-report assesses: Cooperation, Assertion, Empathy, and Self-control. The 55-item parent form assesses: Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, and Self-control and three types of problem behaviors—Externalizing, Internalizing, and Hyperactivity. Based on the standardization sample, reliability for the Social Skills Scale is .90, and .84, for the Problem Behaviors Scale; numerous studies support its validity. Mentor activity reports logged the date, length of time spent, and type of activity for each of the individual mentoring contacts with the child—in-person and phone calls. These were used to determine the number of hours of mentoring that the participants received. Staff kept logs of children’s and mothers’ participation in group educational and social/recreational activities, which provided the number of hours that children and mothers spent in these activities. Procedures Assessment. Children and their mothers completed the measures at the beginning of enrollment in the program and at the end of the mentoring project. Staff met with them, either in their homes or at the CAC, in order to obtain all the information needed for program evaluation. These meetings entailed explaining why the information was needed, signing consent and release forms, and often translating and/ 126 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL or reading aloud various questions, inventories, scales, and other important information. Intervention. The primary intervention was individual mentoring. Mentors were recruited through the same neighborhood churches and from local colleges and universities. A total of 26 mentors received training and were matched with children. Ranging in age from 18 to 42, two-thirds of the mentors were female. Thirteen were Caucasian, 11 Hispanic, and 2 African-American. Almost two-thirds of the mentors worked in clerical or higher level positions; the remainder were in service/sales/technical support jobs. Nearly one-fourth were college students, and twelve spoke both English and Spanish. Mentors received six to eight hours of training, which was provided by the faculty consultants, program staff, and other community practitioners with expertise in selected areas. Staff arranged an initial meeting for parents and children to meet their assigned mentors. This was done as a brief social group activity, or individually when necessary. Children and mentors exchanged contact and schedule information. Mentors had to arrange to pick up children, usually at their homes, but occasionally at the CAC, and return them. They encountered numerous, mostly unavoidable, barriers to setting up and maintaining regular mentoring contacts, e.g., the family’s lack of phone service, lack of parental transportation, difficulty reaching families due to long working hours or re-locations, and family and child problems requiring professional interventions. A variety of mentoring activities was suggested: going to a park, zoo, museum, library, play, movie, sporting event, etc.; playing a sport; doing errands together; visiting the child’s school, especially for special events; visiting in the mentor’s home for helping with homework, reading, playing games, cooking, having a meal, etc.; remembering the child on special holidays or birthdays with a card, activity, small gift, or a phone call; acknowledging the child’s achievement on school grades, projects, or other activities; participating with the child in the FMP group educational and recreational/social activities. The secondary intervention consisted of group educational and social activities. Children’s educational programs included presentations on gangs, self-esteem, puberty, the arts; a visit to the University campus; and a multicultural class meeting. Social/recreational events included a swimming party, a plane ride, an outing at a working farm, an appreciation dinner, a fund-raising activity, and a “Toys for Tots” T. BARRON-MCKEAGNEY, J. D. WOODY, AND H. J. D’SOUZA 127 Christmas distribution program. Parents were invited to all of these social activities and were also offered educational programs on gang prevention, parenting skills, health and AIDS prevention, and community resources. Results Data Analysis The FMP enrolled all children who were referred if both they and their parents agreed to the child’s participation. Of the 49 children in the program, 5 moved away. In spite of continued efforts to recruit mentors, it was not possible to match every child with an individual mentor. In a few cases, when an original match did not continue, a second mentor was assigned if available. Non-mentored children and their mothers, however, remained in the program. Staff continued contact with them, primarily to encourage their participation in the group educational and social/recreational activities and offer referral for services as needed. Difficulty in obtaining mentors for all children allowed subdividing the participants into two groups. The Mentored group consisted of 24 children; their mean number of mentoring contact hours throughout the program was 25.38, SD = 27.02, Mdn = 15. The Non-mentored group consisted of 20 children who received no or very little mentoring (M = 0.35, SD = 0.88, Mdn = 0). Of these, 11 non-mentored and 20 mentored youth completed both pre- and post-tests. The major research hypothesis was that the mentored group and their mothers would show greater participation in the other program components and greater positive changes on the outcome measures than the non-mentored group. An additional test of the effect of the intervention was to examine scores in relation to the standardized norms available for the SSRS. Table 1 reports the differences in program involvement for all participants. Both mentored children and their mothers had greater participation in the group educational programs than the non-mentored group, but there were no differences in participation in the social/recreational activities. 128 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL TABLE 1 Participation Levels of Mentored and Non-Mentored Children and Their Mothers: Results of Independent t-test Contact Hours Mentored (n = 24) Activity M Child group education programs 8.33 Child social/recreational events 16.54 Mothers’ group education programs 1.54 Mothers’ social/recreational events 12.50 Non-Mentored (n = 20) SD M SD t 3.61 5.60 3.59 2.51* 5.96 13.25 6.00 1.82 0.51 1.25 0.44 2.03* 3.43 12.35 4.40 0.13 *p ≤ .05; **p ≤ .01; ***p ≤ .001. Social Skills The first outcome measure, children’s self-ratings and mothers’ ratings of social skills were examined through a paired t-test of the two groups’ pre- and post-scores. Table 2 and Table 3 present these results. In addition, we also compared FMP participants to the national standardized sub-samples of non-handicapped children (n = 406) and their parents (n = 522) which were used in the development of the SSRS (Gresham & Elliot, 1991, p. 141). This analysis consisted of a one-sample t-test using the normative means as constants with the FMP participants’ post-test scores; the results are noted here in the discussion of Tables 2 and 3. Table 2 shows that the non-mentored children reported losses on all skills (significant decrease for Empathy and marginally significant decrease for Assertion; and all of their post-test scores were below the means for the standardized sample (significantly lower on Empathy, t = 3.46, p ≤ .01). On the other hand, mentored children’s post-test scores for Cooperation and Assertion Child Self-Rating of Social Skills: Paired t-test on Groups’ Pre- and Post-Scores No Individual Mentoring (n = 11)a Pre Post SSRS Skills M SD M SD Paired t Cooperation Assertion Empathy Self-Control 14.36 13.82 15.45 11.73 3.41 2.60 2.94 3.10 12.55 11.64 13.55 10.00 3.75 4.18 2.07 3.71 1.46 2.04 2.99* 1.55 Individual Mentoring (n = 19)b Pre Post M SD M SD Paired t 13.74 12.68 15.63 13.16 2.73 3.13 3.20 3.22 13.37 12.53 13.84 10.00 3.85 3.53 3.44 4.47 0.37 0.16 1.66 2.29* All post-test scores decreased, Empathy significantly and Assertion a strong trend toward significant decrease (p = .068). Post-test scores Cooperation and Assertion remained unchanged. Empathy showed a non-significant decrease while Self-Control decreased significantly. *p ≤ .05; **p ≤ .01; ***p≤ .001. a b T. BARRON-MCKEAGNEY, J. D. WOODY, AND H. J. D’SOUZA TABLE 2 129 130 Mothers’ Rating of Child’s Social Skills: Paired t-test on Groups’ Pre- and Post-Scores No Individual Mentoring (n = 11) Pre SSRS Skills Cooperation Assertion Responsibility Self-Control Post M SD M SD Paired t 7.91 11.00 9.36 7.73 3.39 4.82 3.96 2.97 10.64 13.82 13.36 9.82 5.26 3.84 3.41 5.74 3.56** 1.51 3.38** 1.49 *p ≤ .05; **p ≤ .01; ***p≤ .001. Individual Mentoring (n = 19) Pre Post M SD M SD Paired t 10.84 12.74 11.79 11.53 3.04 2.84 2.97 2.14 13.84 13.47 13.68 13.37 3.35 3.82 2.31 2.93 2.95** 0.91 3.18** 2.44* CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL TABLE 3 T. BARRON-MCKEAGNEY, J. D. WOODY, AND H. J. D’SOUZA 131 showed little change and were not significantly below those of the standardized sample. Empathy showed a non-significant decrease and was significantly lower than the mean for the standardized sample (t = 2.36, p ≤ .05). Self-control decreased significantly but was not different from that of the standardized sample. Table 3 shows that, from pre- to post-testing, mothers’ ratings for both the non-mentored and mentored children’s social skills reflected improvement, although they had initially given lower scores than the children gave themselves. Mothers of non-mentored children noted gains on Cooperation and Responsibility, and while three of four posttest ratings were below the means for the standardized sample, these were not statistically different. The mothers of mentored children, however, reported higher post-test scores on Cooperation, Responsibility, and Self-control. In addition, compared to the standardized sample, Cooperation was higher (t = 2.39, p ≤ .05), Assertion was lower (t = 2.77, p ≤ .05), and Responsibility and Self-control were not statistically different. This means that, according to mothers, the mentored children at the end of the program compared very favorably with the national standardized sample. Of interest is the discrepancy in both groups between children’s and mothers’ pre-test ratings. Initially, mothers of both mentored and nonmentored children gave lower scores on Cooperation (Mentored, t = 2.79, p = .013; Non-mentored, t = 5.01, p = .001); mothers of non-mentored children also gave lower ratings on Self-control (t = 2.95, p = .014), with the gaps larger between non-mentored children and their mothers. By the end of the program, however, the children’s self-ratings were more in line with their mothers’ perceptions; the only exception was that mothers rated mentored children lower that they rated themselves on Self-control (t = 4.57, p = .000). With regard to social skills, both groups of mothers saw some positive gains in their children’s social skills; and on the skill of Responsibility, for which children did not rate themselves, the mothers in both groups reported significant positive changes. By post-testing both mentored and non-mentored children had self-ratings similar to those of mothers on two skills, Cooperation and Assertion. Children’s Problem Behaviors An additional part of the parents’ form of the SSRS asked for ratings of their child on three problem behaviors. These results, analyzed through a paired t-test of the two groups’ pre- and post-scores, appear 132 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL in Table 4. At post-testing, non-mentored children had decreased only on Internalizing problems, achieving a lower score than that of the standardized sample (t = 2.57, p ≤ .05). Mentored children, on the other hand, showed significant decreases in all three problem behaviors, and their post-test scores were significantly below the means of the standardized sample (Externalizing, t = 2.24, p ≤ .05; Internalizing, t = 4.07, p ≤ .001; Hyperactivity, t = 5.14, p ≤ .001). Discussion The findings support the two major research hypotheses. First, the mentored children and their mothers had greater involvement in the group educational programs but not in social/recreational activities. Second, the mentored children showed more positive gains in social skills according to both their own and mothers’ ratings, and they experienced a decrease in all problem behaviors. The findings on social skills and behavior problems are consistent with Blechman’s (1992) view that a major goal of mentoring should be to promote competence, which includes managing emotions, getting along with others, and getting ahead at school or work, and that competence should apply biculturally. Bicultural competence means that the youth scores favorably on these achievements when compared to peers within the same culture and peers from a different culture, such as the standardized samples. A major finding is the change in mothers toward an increasingly positive perception of their children. With regard to social skills, the most convincing gains were noted by the mothers of mentored children, which brought them to a level of social-emotional competence that is similar to that of other children in the larger culture. These mothers saw improvement for all four skills (three significantly) from pre- to post-testing and noted more competence in these skills than the children reported for themselves, in spite of mothers having given lower ratings at pre-testing. In addition, the FMP mothers of mentored children at post-testing rated their children higher on Cooperation than mothers in the standardized sample. Although the Assertion score was still lower than that of the standardized sample, it is notable that the FMP mothers saw this skill increase since this is not a quality that the Hispanic culture encourages for children (GarciaPreto, 1996). Mothers of the non-mentored children also saw improve- Mothers’ Rating of Child’s Problem Behaviors: Paired t-Test on Groups’ Pre- and Post-Scores No Individual Mentoring (n = 11) Pre SSRS Problem Behaviors Externalizing Internalizing Hyperactivity *p ≤.05; **p ≤ .01; ***p ≤ .001. Individual Mentoring (n = 19) Post Pre Post M SD M SD t M SD M SD t 4.64 4.82 4.36 3.07 2.44 2.73 4.09 2.45 4.27 4.46 1.86 4.50 0.51 2.70* 0.90 4.47 5.30 5.00 2.32 3.11 2.36 2.58 1.85 1.74 2.57 2.25 2.26 2.33* 5.51*** 5.14*** T. BARRON-MCKEAGNEY, J. D. WOODY, AND H. J. D’SOUZA TABLE 4 133 134 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL ment in skills, and these were of a greater magnitude since they had initially rated their children very low at pre-testing. An even more impressive finding is that by the end of the program, mothers of the mentored children saw substantial decreases in all three problem behaviors, although initially the two groups did not differ in the number of problems reported. In fact, according to these final ratings of mothers, the mentored children had significantly fewer problems than children in the standardized sample. On the other hand, for non-mentored children, only Internalizing problems decreased (but this score was better than that of the standardized sample). This change suggests that this group’s overall involvement in the FMP, such as in the social/recreational activities, may have contributed to relief from such Internalizing problems as anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and poor self-esteem, all of which are items within Internalizing problems on the SSRS. It appears that the individual mentoring may have facilitated the greater gains in social skills and decrease in problem behaviors shown in the group that received this intervention. Using a valid and reliable standardized measure and having the mothers’ ratings of the social skills, in addition to the child’s self-ratings, add to the strength of this interpretation. That is, from the beginning to the end of the program, mothers saw improvements both in problems and skills, although the mentored children saw their skills remaining the same or declining in the case of Self-control. Unlike most school-based or school-focused mentoring programs, the FMP included additional parents’ and children’s activities—both educational and social. Having these various components may account for the benefits to both children and mothers. The improvement in the children’s social skills and behaviors appears to be an important accomplishment that can promote success in both the school and family setting. Achievement and success in both domains can strengthen children by preventing school failure or dropout and involvement in gangs and violence. Such a holistic program, much like that suggested by Blechman (1992), can benefit at-risk minority families who have marginal involvement with, and access to, community resources. Mentoring programs cannot be seen as providing an easy or lowbudget solution to the problems faced by at-risk children. To be effective, such programs need resources to recruit and train volunteers, develop and sustain their commitment, and monitor the extent and quality of their services. In addition, because at-risk families by nature face much stress and instability in their lives, they need support T. BARRON-MCKEAGNEY, J. D. WOODY, AND H. J. D’SOUZA 135 and involvement to build their commitment to the mentoring services. The staff who lead mentoring projects need to understand and adhere to principles of community practice, such as empowerment and multicultural competence (Barron-McKeagney, Woody, & D’Souza, 1999c). With regard to guidelines for mentoring programs that serve at-risk minority children, the following seem to be essential: a fairly longterm commitment to provide individual mentoring, mentoring for elementary school age children, family involvement, various types of mentoring activities, group social skills and educational programs for both children and parents, and social/recreational activities shared by children, families, and mentors that build relationships and commitment to the program. Individual mentor-child contacts must be regular and consistent, and programs must invest in facilitating and monitoring these. Finally, since mentoring programs take many forms and typically have various components, future evaluation efforts should use multiple types of measures, including standardized inventories, and examine closely for which or what mix of program elements produce the greatest impact. References Balcazar, F.E., Majors, R., Blanchard, K.A., & Paine, A. (1991). Teaching minority high school students to recruit helpers to attain personal and educational goals. Journal of Behavioral Education, 4, 445–454. Barron-McKeagney, T., Woody, J. D., & D’Souza, H.J. (in press). Mentoring at-risk Latino children: Impact on the parent-child relationship and family strength. Families in Society. Barron-McKeagney, T., Woody, J. D., & D’Souza, H.J. (1999b). Mentoring at-risk Latino children: Impact on self-concept and school performance. Manuscript submitted for publication. Barron-McKeagney, T., Woody, J. D., & D’Souza, H.J. (in press). Mentoring at-risk Latino children: The role of community theory and practice. Journal of Community Practice. Blechman, E. A. (1992). Mentors for high-risk minority youth: From effective communication to bicultural competence. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 21, 2, 160– 169. Blum, D.J. & Jones, L.A. (1993). Academic growth group and mentoring program for potential dropouts. School Counselor, 40, 3, 207–217. Flaxman, E., Ascher, C., & Harrington, C. (1988). Mentoring programs and practices: An analysis of the literature. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, Institute for Urban and Minority Education. Freedman, M. (1991). The kindness of strangers: Reflections on the mentoring movement. Philadelphia, PA: Public Private Ventures Garcia-Preto, N. (1996). Puerto Rican families. In M. McGoldrick, J. Giordano, & J.K. Pearce (Eds.), Ethnicity and family therapy (pp. 183–199). New York: Norton. Garmezy, N. (1985). Stress-resistant children: The search for protective factors. In J. E. 136 CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL Stevenson (Ed.), Recent research in developmental psychopathology (pp. 213–223). Oxford, U. K.: Pergamon. Gresham, F. M., & Elliot, S. N. (1991). Social Skills Rating System: Manual. Circle Pines MN: American Guidance Service. Grossman, J.B., & Tierney, J. P. (1998). Does mentoring work? An impact study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. Evaluation Review, 22, 3, 403–426. LoSciuto, L., Rajala, A. K., Townsend, T. N., & Taylor, A. S. (1996). An outcome evaluation of Across Ages: An intergenerational mentoring approach to drug prevention. Journal of Adolescent Research, 11, 1, 116–129. Mech, E. V., Pryde, J. A., & Ryecroft, J. R. (1995). Mentors for adolescents in foster care. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 12, 4, 317–328. Payne, V. H., Cathcart, E. J., & Pecora, J. (1995). The Seattle Mentorship Project: Evaluating the effectiveness of social tutors. Community Alternatives International Journal of Family Care, 7, 2, 1–21. Rhodes. J. E. (1993). Easing postpartum school transitions through parent mentoring programs. Prevention in Human Services, 10, 2, 169–178. Roberts, A., & Cotton, L. (1994). Note on assessing a mentor program. Psychological Reports, 75, 1369–1370. Roth, J., Brooks-Gunn, J., Murray, L., & Foster, W. (1998). Promoting healthy adolescents: Synthesis of youth development program evaluations. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 8, 4, 423–459. Slicker, E., & Palmer, D. J. (1993). Mentoring at-risk high school students: Evaluation of a school-based program. The School Counselor, 40, 327–334. Zippay, A. (1995). Expanding employment skills and social networks among teen mothers: Case study of a mentor program. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 12, 1, 51–69.

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