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This study was designed to determine if a 1-year structured social skills program would improve academic and interpersonal skills and attendance in young African American males. On a pre-assessment inventory, study participants, 33 fourth grade boys, demonstrated a variety of poor social skills such as poor attendance, poor interpersonal skills, stress, poor organization and study skills, destructive and aggressive behaviors. The social skills program activities included techniques for improving bonding, attention, sense of belonging, group skills, confidence, motivation, caring, problem solving, and behavior problems. Teachers were instructed to model identified behaviors and to ascertain whether the boys understood or could imitate the behaviors. Generally, most of the study participants were pleased with their progress and wanted to continue in the program. Both teachers and parents were pleased with the significant gains that students made in improving academic and interpersonal skills. Findings suggest that there is a vital need to teach social skills to African-American males at an early age, and that systematic planning between home and school can compensate for deficits in social skills development in African-American males. The project appeared to significantly change the negative and aggressive behaviors of the boys, to expand their self-images, and to improve grades in reading and mathematics. Recommendations for strengthening the program include: improving guidelines for identifying and selecting participants; providing inservice training for parents and teachers; integrating the program more completely throughout the school; and evaluating the long term effects of the program. (Contains 22 references.) (ND)

Descriptors: Academic Failure, Behavior Change, Behavior Problems, Black Youth, Blacks, Intermediate Grades, Interpersonal Competence, Learning Problems, Low Achievement, Males, Minority Group Children, Minority Groups, Modeling (Psychology), Participant Satisfaction, Problem Solving, Program Effectiveness, Social Adjustment, Student Motivation, Student Problems, Underachievement

Autor: Taylor, George


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