Afterschool programs evaluated for community support, resources

Feb 26, 2013

Afterschool programs seem to be most effective when their organization and implementation is supported by both organizational and community resources, according to Penn State human development researchers.

Using a tool to help bridge the gap between research and real life, the researchers evaluated an afterschool program called the Good Behavior Game.

"The Interactive System Framework for Dissemination and Implementation is the tool that helps us to bridge research and practice by synthesizing the available research and figuring out what it will take to help real people and communities use that research," said Emilie Phillips Smith, professor of human development and family studies.

There are three aspects to the Interactive Systems Framework that evaluate the effectiveness of translating research into practice when it comes to preventing substance abuse and in school-age children. Smith and colleagues focused specifically on the delivery of the Good Behavior Game, and used the Interactive Systems Framework as their guide. They reported their findings in a recent special issue of the American .

The Game (GBG) was developed to help improve behavior in elementary school classrooms, and has been proven effective in reducing substance abuse in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. In this study, the researchers introduced GBG in 12 school-based afterschool programs in both urban and rural areas in Pennsylvania and monitored the ability of each program to successfully implement the game.

Eight of the programs were randomly assigned to implement GBG, while the remaining four programs served as the control and continued without any changes.

The researchers assessed each organization's resources, such as staffing ratios, space, materials and regular internal communication, as well as its connectedness to community resources. To help determine afterschool organization resources, program directors completed surveys that asked questions about resource availability, organizational structure and management style. The same survey measured community collaboration using questions addressing the afterschool program's level of collaboration with community agencies, schools and parents; number of volunteers for programs; materials and supplies; funding; and the number of community collaborators that provided resources for children.

Implementation of GBG on the eight sites using the intervention was measured by those coaching the afterschool program staff on best practices. The coaches measured both quantity and quality of implementation.

The researchers found that afterschool programs that rated high for organizational ability, but low for community involvement were less likely to implement GBG effectively. Programs that had a lot of community involvement, but little organizational ability were less likely to implement GBG effectively. If a program had as well as organizational resources, it fared well.

"This study highlights the importance of considering interactions among multiple levels of general capacity in efforts to promote evidence-based practices in afterschool settings," the researchers wrote.

Good internal organization and the capacity to connect to the community in meaningful ways are trademarks of programs that implement best practices well.

Smith noted that these findings are based on phase one of their pilot study. She and her team have already expanded the implementation of GBG to 72 afterschool sites, and are further exploring its influence and effect.

Explore further: Computer games give a boost to English

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

In Cambodia, any preschool found better than none

Apr 17, 2012

We know that children who attend formal preschool programs in industrialized nations benefit in many ways. But what about the impact of similar programs in developing countries? A new longitudinal study carried out in Cambodia ...

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

6 hours ago

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

7 hours ago

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

23 hours ago

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 0