Here are brief summaries of the introduction and three articles from a special 1993 issue of American Psychologist on Adolescence--Research, Interventions, and Policy. Please read these summaries prior to the Schools lecture to get an idea of the questions posed, and solutions proposed, by these authors. You do not need to read the articles themselves. Please complete the School Issues Outline in preparation for Tuesday's discussion.Takanishi: The opportunities of adolescence--research, interventions, and policy
Takanishi (1993) The opportunities of adolescence--research, interventions, and policy:
Introduction to the special issue. American Psychologist, 48, 85-87.
Adolescence is a period of great risk, and some risks are greater in the US than in other developed nations. This special issue describes opportunities for research, for intervention, for policy .
"As members of U.S. society, we stand at the crossroads: We can make a commitment to support the full development of adolescents into productive adults or we can continue to waste the lives of significant numbers in the youth cohort."
Eccles, et al. (1993) Development during adolescence: The impact of stage-environment fit on young adolescents' experiences in schools and in families. American Psychologist, 48, 90-101.
Question: why does early adolescence mark the beginning of a downward spiral to academic failure and school dropout?
What drops with entry to junior high school (JHS)? grades, attention in class, attendance, intrinsic motivation, self-concept, confidence in intellectual abilities.
What increases? test anxiety, learned helplessness responses to failure, focus on self-evaluation, truancy, school dropout.
Why these changes? hypothesis: concurrent timing of JHS transition and pubertal development.
Simmons et al studies: compared 6th to 7th grade transitions in students staying in elementary school or moving to JHS.
The junior high school environment may provide a bad fit for the needs of adolescents.
What changes with the transition from elementary to JHS?
1. JHS classrooms emphasize teacher control and discipline.
2. JHS classrooms have less personal and positive teacher-student relationships.
3. JHS involves more whole-class activities, more ability-grouping between classes, more public evaluation.
4. JHS teachers feel less effective, esp with poorer students.
5. JHS classwork requires lower level cognitive skills.
6. JHS teachers use a higher standard in judging competence and grading performance.
How do these changes fit the young adolescent's increasing needs for autonomy and self-determination, peer orientation, self-focus and self-consciousness, importance of identity issues, concern with heterosexual relationships, capacity for abstract cognitive activity?
JHS seems especially harmful
Emphasizes competition, social comparison, and ability self-assessment at a time of heightened self-consciousness
Decreased opportunity for decision making just when need for autonomy and self-determination is increasing
Emphasize lower-level cognitive strategies when higher-level abilities are increasing
disrupt social relationships just when peer relationships are most important
This bad fit between school environment and individual needs makes bad outcome more likely.
Eccles research suggests that for most students the transition to JHS is a negative one. Low achieving students are especially vulnerable. Motivation drops and misconduct increases.
Sometimes, however, the move to JHS is a positive one, and adolescents' motivation and self-perception improve.
Simmons' data suggests that early maturing females are also especially vulnerable to the JHS transition.
Many of the bad characteristics of the JHS are byproducts of large size and the fact that JHS teachers may have 5 classes per day of 30 different students while elementary school teachers have the same 30 students all year. JHS teachers can't form close relationships and must adopt more controlling strategies.
Zaslow & Takanishi (1993) Priorities for research on adolescent development. American Psychologist, 48, 185-192.
4 major problem behaviors of adolescence: (1) early sex, (2)school failure, (3) delinquency,(4) substance abuse
Are these independent problems that should be addressed with independent interventions? No, co-occurring problems.
Matching adolescents' developmental needs and key socializing settings: Schools and Young Adolescents
1. Transition from elementary to junior high school-->problems?
2. Questions for research --what is the impact of different organizational structures and educational processes? --how do all the pieces fit together?
What we already know
Broad recommendations for organizational structures and instructional processes are NOT sufficient.
Must specify just how to implement recommended teaching practices.
The combination of multiple positive practices is especially powerful.
Jessor (1993) Successful adolescent development among youth in high-risk settings. Amer.Psychologist, 48, 117-126.
How do adolescents -- even from high-risk contexts -- make it? How do they manage to:
avoid "rotten outcomes"
fulfill expected roles
develop the necessary human capital of skills, knowledge and interests
achieve a sense of personal adequacy and competence
pursue second chances if they got off track
prepare to enter young adults roles
How can we understand the process by which adolescents make it?
Ultimate goal is to understand adolescent development in context (ecological model):
how do key settings - family, school, and neighborhood - affect adolescent.
the interactions among each of these contexts.
the role of the larger environment
dynamic changes across time in all these interrelationships
Intermediate goals are more limited: e.g., Middle School Intervention Study: what aspects of the middle school experience influence the life path of students?
James Comer and Thomas Cook are principal investigators, monitoring 21 schools since 1990:
assessing changes in school climate
evaluating changes in psychosocial attributes, school performance, behavior of students (in 7th grade).
Experimental schools implement the Comer School Development Program (success in New Haven )
Aims of Comer schools: democratic school climate, sensitivity to developmental issues, strong home/school ties
Implemented by shared authority and decision making among parents and school officials
mental health team to help teachers understand child dvlp issues
involvement of families in wide range of school activities