Evaluating a Universal Social Information Processing Skills Program for Girls: The Friendship Saver Program
AffiliationMelbourne School of Psychological Sciences
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-11-25.
© 2020 Connie Buckingham
This thesis presents an evaluation of the Friendship Saver Program, a universal program designed to be gender-specific, aimed to improve the social information processing skills of girls. Specially, the program aims to teach social information processing skills as defined by the Social Information Processing Model (SIP) (Crick & Dodge, 1994). The 12-week universal program was delivered to 214 middle-primary school age girls, by trained facilitators from their schools. An implementation quality questionnaire was used to track the fidelity of implementation, and indicated satisfactory to very good delivery of the program across the four schools involved. To evaluate program impact multiple measures were included, using a pre- and post-intervention design. An innovative interactive software program What Next? (Ainley & Ainley, 2006) was used to directly measure participants’ social information processing skills, and the widely-used Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (Goodman, 1997) was used to measure general social and behavioural functioning as rated by parents and teachers. The What Next? program measured participants interpretation of cues, response construction and response decision after viewing a video scenario of relational aggression. Due to the novel nature of using software and video footage to assess social information processing skills, participant engagement was also assessed. The engagement results offered strong evidence that the participants were highly engaged by the video scenarios, and maintained their engagement throughout their experience with the software. A pre-post intervention comparison indicated that following participation in the Friendship Saver Program, participants identified significantly more subtle cues indicative of hostile intent, and provided more response constructions and response decisions that were adaptive, with fewer maladaptive responses post-intervention. Hence, these results offered evidence of positive change following the Friendship Saver Program on girls’ social information processing skills. Parent and Teacher SDQ ratings indicated that this sample was a high functioning group at commencement of the project. Teacher ratings on the SDQ demonstrated no change in general social or behavioural functioning post-intervention, while parent ratings indicated fewer externalizing problems post-intervention. In concluding, the findings demonstrate the importance of gender-specific programs for teaching social skills to girls, and the advantages of using software and video technology to measure these skills. The results also demonstrate the potential of the SIP model to inform a targeted intervention for girls, and to be a relevant framework for investigating the social skills of girls.
KeywordsSEL; social emotional learning; social information processing model; Crick and Dodge; SIP; universal program; girls program; intervention; social skills program
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