Students Managing Anger and Resolution Together
SMARTteam is a multimedia program designed for universal prevention with students in grades 5-9. Its primary setting of use is in schools, with students using the software independently, either alone or in pairs.
The modules can be used in sequence or independently, because key concepts are reinforced throughout the components. In accordance with Dreyfus and Dreyfus's skill acquisition model, the software accommodates students' learning needs at various stages of mastery. Numerous teen and adult role models are incorporated following Bandura's social learning theory. Anger replacement therapy guides module content. Skills taught are dispute resolution (including a module that two students can use to resolve an ongoing conflict), and perspective taking (identification of other people's thoughts and feelings). The content of SMARTteam is aligned with commonly used conflict-mediation curricula, and integrates well with other violence prevention strategies a school may implement.
Ten teenage mediators consulted in development, vetting the relevance of the scenarios and scripts. A variety of games and interactive components encourage self-reflection and use of newly learned strategies in authentic scenarios. In pilot and evaluation testing, more than three-quarters of subjects agreed that the software was enjoyable to use, informative, and taught them many ways to solve a conflict.
A pilot study with 102 seventh graders showed increases in knowledge, self-knowledge of how personal behavior might escalate a conflict, frequency of prosocial behavior, and intentions to use nonviolent strategies. The percentage of students who reported getting into trouble dropped dramatically.
A full-scale evaluation was completed with matched intervention and control groups (n = 558, grades 6, 7, and 8). Significant effects were increased intentions to use nonviolent strategies and self-knowledge, and decreases in beliefs supportive of violence.
Computer instruction has several advantages for replication. It is not subject to variability in implementation; users can control the timing, pacing, and content of instruction; they can revisit lessons at will; and the computer provides a confidential format for obtaining information. The training needs for SMARTteam are minimal and the cost moderate.
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