|TITLE:||AGENCY AND EMOTIONS|
|PRINCIPLE INVESTIGATOR:||DEKA, TEDDI|
|OTHER INVESTIGATORS:||DARA HIATTRNCAMERON ROCK|
File Created: January 19, 2012|
Department Chair Action Date: January 19, 2012
Current Status: Expired. Final Status Report or Extension Needed.
|Confidentiality||Data are linked to individuals.|
STATEMENT OF PURPOSEPersonal agency is the ability to direct one’s own actions, measured by examining concepts such as self-efficacy, self-regulation, and locus of control (Zimmerman & Cleary, 2006). It is believed that a sense of agency develops across childhood and into adolescence. The beginning of a sense of agency can be seen in the preschool years, when children want to choose their clothes, decide what games to play, and to say “no” to parents’ plans (Erikson, 1963). As they get older, children become able to delay gratification, reflect upon situations without merely acting upon them, and to see themselves as separate from others in thought and motivation (Pollock & Slavin, 1998). Children also realize that they can be recognized and have an impact on others’ lives, just as others can on them. Children identified with behavioral problems in school are described as having poor self-control, impulsive, acting out, defiant, blaming others and not taking others’ perspectives. Such problems outline difficulties with socio-emotional skills. Poor socio-emotional skills in childhood are correlated with conduct disorder and delinquent behavior in adolescence, exacerbated by poor family functioning (Murray & Farrington, 2010). It is proposed here that programs encouraging the development of social-emotional skills must also foster agency within the child so that the child can continue to develop his or her social skills despite low support within the family context. The child may even become a catalyst for change within his or her family or outside-of-school context for socio-emotional development. Fostering both socio-emotional skills and agency means that children know what they should do, and simultaneously feel empowered to do it. It means both knowing and doing. Children often know what they should be doing, but feel that they have few choices in the matter. For instance, in a study on nutrition, Backett-Milburn, Cunningham-Burley, and Davis (2003) found that children knew what healthy foods were, but believed they had no choice in what they ate. Children believed that what they ate was determined by parents or others, so they did not dedicate much thought toward actually making healthy choices, much less influencing their family toward healthy choices. Similar to this example, children may be more reactive with socio-emotional skills, knowing what they should be doing but feeling low agency toward practicing such skills, because parents, teachers, or peers control how they behave. The goal here is to move children from reactive to proactive in their practice of socio-emotional skills. I seek to develop a program that encourages both emotional intelligence and agency in youth who could benefit from such a program. The youth I would like to target are ones with difficulty managing emotion or behavior, and youth with disadvantaged or problematic backgrounds. Development of the program would take place from January to May, with the participants being active contributors to the formation of the program. The consequence of its development would be wider-scale usage in Fall 2012 with possible grant support for the program.
STATEMENT OF RESEARCH METHODOLOGYParticipants will complete the following pre- and post-questionnaires to measure progress: Self-perception profile for children (Harter, 1985), Children's social desirability scale (Baxter, Smith, Litaker, Baglio, Guinn & Shaffer, 2006), Trait emotional intelligence questionnaire (Mavroveli, Petrides, Shove & Whitehead, 2008), the General causality orientations scale (modified for children) (Deci & Ryan, 1985)and a background questionnaire asking for age, grade, gender and ethnicity. The questions will be presented in written form and also read to the participants in a group setting. They will respond to the questions on a questionnaire form. Completion of the questionnaires will take approximately 40 minutes. Participants and researchers will meet once per week for ten weeks. The first week will be a discussion of behaviors, difficulties and skill sets that participants perceive are problematic or need to be worked on. The second through ninth meetings will center on identified skills and activities to work on such skills based upon activities from the 4-H Cloverbud Program. All activities will focus on socio-emotional skills, and increasing participants' proactiveness as an agent in developing the skill. Some themes that have been piloted in a previous investigation and have been effective included game-playing and sharing positive and negative aspects of the day. The Cloverbud program has several exercises centered on several themes. The themes that will be of focus here are personal development (I am special, my feelings, experiencing disabilities)and social/personal skills (managing time, role-playing, spending free time/media. In the tenth week the questionnaires will be re-administered to determine changes in self-concept, self-determination and emotional perception.
ANTICIPATED RISKS AND BENEFITSRisks are minimal for this investigation. Participants will be instructed during survey administration that they can choose not to answer any/all questions. The participants involved already meet once per week as groups. The activities will not be outside of the norm for these groups. For all sites involved, there are guidance counselors and staff to assist any participant who is psychologically or physically impacted, although neigher of these problems are anticipated. The research and exercises focus on positive behavior, so positive outcomes are anticipated.
SUBJECT SELECTIONThis is a pilot study to develop exercises to improve agency, social skills and emotional competence. Participants are convenience samples from the Saint Joseph Public schools and from Noyes Home. Select SJSD students participate in social-behavioral groups. This investigation targets third through sixth graders at two elementary schools (n = 20). The Noyes Home group includes residents from 3rd to 12th grade (n = 10).
CONFIDENTIALITYSince pre- and post-questionnaires will be administered, there must be a mechanism for identifying which questionnaires are from the same person. Once the post-questionnaires are administered, the identifyer (name) will be removed from the questionnaires by the researcher and replaced with a data line number. Until that time, questionnaires will only be handled by the PI and will be kept in a locked file cabinet. No personal identifier will be retained. Individual questionnaires or information that could identify a participant will not be released to any parties.
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