A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Educational Programs That Work - 1995

Social Decision Making and Problem Solving

Social Decision Making and Problem Solving. A program that teaches all children to "think clearly" when under stress. The program is curriculum-based and occurs in three developmental phases. The readiness phase targets self-control, group participation, and social awareness skills. The instructional phase teached an eight-step social decision-making strategy to students. The application phase teaches children to use these skills in real life interpersonal and academic situations.

Audience Approved by PEP for teachers, administrators, guidance, child study team staff, and parents of children in grades K-6, both in regular and special education programs.

Description Social Decision Making and Problem Solving works by training educators and parents to equip children with skills in self-control and group participation, the use of an eight-step social decision-making strategy, and the practical know-how regarding the use of these skills in real life and academic areas.

The program is curriculum-based and occurs in three developmental phases. The readiness phase targets self-control, group participation and social awareness skills. The instructional phase teaches an eight-step social decision-making strategy to students. The application phase provides practice to help children apply these skills in real life interpersonal and academic situations.

The primary objective is to teach children a set of heuristic social decision-making thinking steps. Lessons are taught to the children on a regular basis by their classroom teacher. Extensive guided practice and role playing are used, as is skill modeling and the use of hypothetical social problem situations. Facilitative questioning and dialogue stimulates the integration of the techniques. And, cooperative group projects and writing assignments further advance that process.

The Social Decision Making program targets the National Goals for Education which address substance abuse and violence, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, productive employment, and the critical thinking skills inherent in all aspects of academic and social learning.

Evidence of Effectiveness In pilot tests and published evaluations that have been emerging since 1979, teachers who were trained were found to improve in their ability to facilitate children's social decision- making and problem-solving. The children who received the program improved their social decision-making and problem-solving skills relative to control groups. Students also showed more prosocial behavior in school as well as greater ability to cope with stress upon their transition to middle school, when compared to control youngsters. Students who were followed up in high school showed high levels of positive, prosocial behavior and decreased anti-social, self-destructive and social disordered behavior when compared to controls.

Requirements At the building or district level, the school(s) is asked to form a Social Decision Making committee. This committee moves into a leadership role to provide guidance to the program's multiyear development as well as to provide consultation support to the teachers who are brought on board to teach the program. The committee should consist of some key teachers, representatives from the district/building administration, and such specialists as substance abuse counselors, guidance counselors and special education professionals.

Costs Training costs are negotiable and include a per diem plus travel expenses for the trainer and approximately $28 per participant (typically limited to 30 people) for workshop materials for a school building-based training. Costs for regional trainings may vary.

Services Awareness materials and presentations are available. Staff provide a two-day curriculum lab training workshop for those teachers and practitioners who will be teaching Social Decision Making directly to the students. Members of the Social Decision Making committee stay for a third day to prepare them for their role. Information is also available regarding how to bring parents on board with Social Decision Making. These trainings most often are offered on the school district site but are also available at our New Jersey location. All trainees become regular recipients of the program's newsletter, The Problem Solving Connection.

Contact
John F. Clabby, Thomas Schuyler, or Linda Bruene, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-CMHC at Piscataway, 240 Stelton Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854-3248. (908) 235-4939 or Maurice Elias, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903. (908) 932-2444.

Developmental Funding: National Institute of Mental Health, William T. Grant Foundation, and Schumann Fund for New Jersey.
PEP No. 89-16 (7/18/89)


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