The impact of the positive action program on substance use, aggression, and psychological functioning: Is school climate a mechanism of change?

Katie Stalker, Qi Wu, Caroline B.R. Evans, Paul R. Smokowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The social emotional learning (SEL) conceptual model posits that SEL programs lead to increased knowledge and skills, improved attitudes about self, others, and school, and supportive learning environments, which in turn improve student emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes. Positive Action (PA) is an SEL program for elementary-, middle-, and high-school students. Extensive research documents the effectiveness of PA in decreasing adolescent risk factors and enhancing protective factors, however, minimal research has examined the mechanisms of change responsible for these effects. The current study examined whether PA was associated with SEL outcomes (i.e., alcohol use, aggression, depression, and anxiety) through school hassles (a proxy for school climate). The analytic sample consisted of 8333 ethnically/racially diverse, rural adolescents (51% female) in grades 6 through 12. Structural Equation Modeling was used to analyze the data. Engagement in PA was significantly associated with decreased school hassles, indicating an improvement in school climate. Subsequently, decreases in school hassles were significantly associated with decreased alcohol use, aggression, depression, and anxiety. Thus, there was an indirect effect between PA, decreased school hassles, and improved adolescent outcomes. Implications were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume84
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Intervention research
  • Positive Action
  • Social emotional learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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