The effect of varying data collection techniques in evaluating the impact of a social problem solving curriculum
The ability to apply techniques associated with problem solving and decision making has been identified as an area receiving significant emphasis in today's educational programming. Goodman, Gravitt and Kaslow (1995) found that children who had experienced a high impact of negative life events with less effective social problem solving skills reported higher levels of depression compared to children that exhibited more effective social problem solving skills. The following questions are posed as problem statements for this study: (1) Is student performance in social problem solving measured in a one-to-one structured interview enhanced when demonstration or application of skills is required as opposed to when only cognitive knowledge is measured? (2) How does student performance in social problem solving measured in a one-to-one structured interview compare between two groups of students participating in counseling programs exhibiting somewhat different characteristics? and (3) Do the results suggest the feasibility or practicality of a particular form of assessment for measurement of social problem solving skills?;The results yield suggestion that problem solving is a skill best demonstrated through application rather than attempt at cognitive recall. When faced with an assessment requiring them to think through hypothetical, but real life situations, consider consequences of various forms of behavior and ultimately decide on an appropriate solution to a problem, students seem to perform at a higher level and to be more engaged than when only asked to name the steps of a problem solving model;When analyzing differences in performance according to the type of counseling program in which students participate, statistically significant differences were not noted between those provided a more traditional counseling program versus those in a program exhibiting more characteristics of a program known as Smoother Sailing. However, results did indicate slightly enhanced performance of students in the traditional program sample on two of the assessments.