, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 143-157

Evaluation of a revised fourth grade social problem solving curriculum: Empathy as a moderator of adjustive gain

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Abstract

Two classrooms of fourth grade suburban children (n=37) were trained using a 20-lesson revised Social Problem Solving (SPS) curriculum and compared to two no-training comparison classrooms (n=45). Results indicated a significant increase in the number of alternative solutions to interpersonal difficulties generated by E versus C children on a group social problem solving measure. Adjustive gains for E versus C children were reported by teachers and children on indices of school adjustment. These findings supported the efficacy of the shortened curriculum in increasing problem solving skills and facilitating positive adjustive change.

The link between gain in SPS skills and adjustive change was examined in two ways. Delta scores compared changes in SPS skills and changes in teacher/child adjustive ratings yield no significant relationships. Hierarchical regression analyses, incorporating a moderator variable (empathy), indicated a significant relationship among pre level of empathy, gain in SPS skills and teacher rated adjustive change. These findings supported the hypothesis that key moderating variables may play a role in the training and employment of SPS skills and that strategies designed to examine these variables need to be employed.