This paper describes a program initiated by teacher-researchers to increase the use and knowledge of appropriate social skills with junior high school students while working in academic cooperative groups. The target groups comprised sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students in a predominantly middle class community in the Midwest. The students' lack of use or knowledge of the targeted social skills was documented through teacher observation, a teacher constructed pre-survey of the students, and teacher constructed rubrics used during academically challenging group assignments. Analysis of probable cause data indicates that students' lack of knowledge of the use of social skills is linked to changes in societal behaviors, changes in the family structure, and the lack of a caring adult to model appropriate behaviors. Reviews of the curriculum at the targeted school revealed that social skills were being addressed in an Advisory Program, but were not being transformed to other areas of the school. A review of the solution strategies suggested by educational professionals and an analysis of the targeted junior high school setting resulted in the following intervention: directly teaching targeted social skills as part of the curriculum, allowing students time to reflect on the use of social skills through the use of journaling techniques, teacher modeling of the targeted social skills, and student practice of the targeted social skills during academically challenging group assignments. Results of the intervention support the researchers' hypothesis that such intervention increases the use of the targeted skills in the classroom setting. It is noted that the students understood and used the targeted social skills in the classroom; they did not transfer their use to unstructured situations in the building. Appendix A is Parent Letter; Appendix B is Student Survey (Pre- and Post-); Appendix C is Social Skills Rubric; Appendix D is Social Skills Observation Sheet; Appendix E is Rubric Comparison Chart; Appendix F is T-Chart; and Appendix G is Journal Entry Checklist. (Contains 6 tables and 51 references.) (Author/MKA)
Master's Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and IRI/Skylight.