Behavioral trajectories during middle childhood are predictive of consequential outcomes later in life (e.g., substance abuse, violence). Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs are designed to promote trajectories that reflect both growth in positive behaviors and inhibited development of negative behaviors. The current study used growth mixture models to examine effects of the Positive Action (PA) program on behavioral trajectories of social-emotional and character development (SECD) and misconduct using data from a cluster-randomized trial that involved 14 schools and a sample of predominately low-income, urban youth followed from 3rd through 8th grade. For SECD, findings indicated that PA was similarly effective at improving trajectories within latent classes characterized as “high/declining” and “low/stable”. Favorable program effects were likewise evident to a comparable degree for misconduct across observed latent classes that reflected “low/rising” and “high/rising” trajectories. These findings suggest that PA and perhaps other school-based universal SEL programs have the potential to yield comparable benefits across subgroups of youth with differing trajectories of positive and negative behaviors, making them promising strategies for achieving the intended goal of school-wide improvements in student outcomes.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 28, 2016
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