Evidence of Effectiveness SDM projects


Evidence of Effectiveness

Since 1979, the Social Decision Making and Problem Solving Program (SDM/PS) developers have thoroughly evaluated the program and have published these findings in scientific journals. In 1995, the SDM/PS staff submitted the results of our most recent evaluation studies to the U.S. Department of Education for review. This study replicated and exceeded the positive results of earlier studies conducted in the 1980's. We are proud that the SDM/PS Program was validated for a second time as an Exemplary Program.

Results of recent effectiveness research are briefly summarized here. For a copy of the complete research report, please contact spsweb@umdnj.edu


Finding 1:
Following training, teachers improved in their ability to facilitate children's social decision making and problem solving.

Research has shown that adult questioning plays an important role in facilitating children's cognitive development, such as their ability to assess a problematic situation and to consider a variety of options. Teachers who were trained in the SDM/PS Program significantly increased their use of the questioning strategies that have been found to be highly facilitative of children's problem-solving thinking and behavior.


Finding 2:
Children receiving the program improved their social decision making and problem solving skills relative to control groups.

Specifically, children receiving the program:

  • were more sensitive to others' feelings
  • had a better understanding of consequences
  • showed an increased ability to "size up" interpersonal situations and plan appropriate actions
  • were more realistic and socially appropriate in the way they coped with problems and obstacles
  • used what they learned in social problem solving lessons in situations occurring both inside and outside the classroom

Finding 3:
Students receiving the program in elementary school showed more prosocial behavior in school and greater ability to cope with stress upon their transition to middle school, compared with controls.

Children receiving the program:

  • showed more self-control
  • were more helpful to others
  • were more self-reliant (needed less teacher time to cope with problems)
  • had good social interaction skills
  • better handled the difficult transition to middle school

Finding 4:
Students who were followed up in high school showed greater positive, responsible, and prosocial behavior and decreased anti-social, self-destructive, and socially disordered behavior compared to controls who did not receive the program.

A number of research papers on the SDM Program have been published in professional journals. Please call our offices to request a bibliography if you would like a listing of evaluation-related articles. In addition, the SDM Program was profiled in Daniel Goleman' s recent book, Emotional Intelligence (1995, NY: Bantam Books). This book provides a thorough explanation of emotional literacy and the importance of teaching these skills to children at a young age.

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