Wednesday, March 28, 2012
SELF-CONFIDENCE AND PROBLEM SOLVING IN K-3RD GRADE CHILDREN
Beth Ann Haines, Associate Professor of Psychology at Lawrence University and Psychology students, Olivia Henricks and Alyssa Onan, discussed how they are performing a 3 year community research project with about 200 elementary school students. They are looking for improvement in creativity (originality and imagination), self confidence/self efficacy and problem solving. They want to find out if community based after school programs help children, would an enrichment program at the Boys and Girls Club / Building for Kids help them even more, if there is evidence that after school programs help young children in measurable ways and to examine executive functioning to provide insights into brain development. They worked with 3 groups of kids: after school programs and enrichment (Columbus Elementary School); after school programs only (Highlands Elementary School); and a control group (Highlands Elementary School). The after school program and enrichment group (kindergarten – 3rd grade) went to the Building for Kids 26 times. They were divided into small groups with leaders to plan what they were going to do on a given day, do the activity and then review what they learned. The enrichment group was tested on self efficacy by leaders asking students how sure they were that they could do something. They were asked to answer not sure, kind of sure and very sure. Students were asked to match cards based on color, shape and number to determine problem solving skills. Students were also asked to add to lines to make a picture to conduct a creativity assessment. High self efficacy in children is associated with better use of strategies, more efficient problem solving and a reduction of anxiety in problem solving. High self efficacy also related to better academic achievements. The card sort is used to diagnose ADHD in children and can help stroke patients and brain development. The first year results showed that after school programs are associated with higher self efficacy, after school programming with the added enrichment at the Building for Kids is associated with larger increases in social self efficacy than children who don’t have the added enrichment, after school programming in addition to helping with self efficacy is related to greater increases in problem solving than for children who don’t participate in the after school programs, low scorers on the card sorts may have problems with inhabitation and working memory and after school programs and enrichment in our community support children’s development. Why do these outcomes matter? High self efficacy is associated with academic achievement, empathy and resistance to social pressure. Better problem solving skills is associated with math skills, cooperation, taking turns with peers, academic achievement and career aspirations.