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Program Description

Overview The School-to-Jobs Programme (STJ) is a brief small-group-based intervention designed for low-income African-American youth in the last year of middle school. Based in an inner-city Detroit middle school, the program's goal was first to provide an intervention which might enhance low-income African-American youths' “possible selves,” or their future-oriented self-conceptions, which are thought to be related to school motivation, school persistence and success, and a more successful transition both through the school system and into the labor force. The program's second goal was to show an effect of the intervention on academic outcomes of these high-risk youths.
Start Date fall 1995
Scope local
Type after school
Location urban
Setting public school
Participants middle school
Number of Sites/Grantees one
Number Served 62
Components The program occurred one day per week over nine weeks. Each week's session focused on a different goal:

Week 1: Creating a Group – In this session the goal was to create a positive sense of membership and set the stage for school involvement and adult possible selves.

Week 2: Adult Images – In this session the goal was to create a concrete experience imagining adulthood.

Week 3: Time Lines – In this session the goal was to concretize the connection between present and future and to normalize failures and setbacks as part of the progress to the future.

Week 4: Possible Selves and Strategies Boards – In this session the goal was to concretize the connection between current behavior, next year, and adult attainments.

Week 5: Solving Everyday Problems I – In this session the goal was to provide participants with concrete experience breaking down everyday school problems into more manageable parts.

Week 6: Solving Everyday Problems II – In this session the goal was to reinforce participants' ability to make school-related plans for the future and the need to reach out to adults to accomplish this.

Week 7: Wrapping up, Moving Forward – In this session the goal was to organize experiences so far and set the stage for bringing parents to the group.

Week 8: Building an Alliance and Developing Communication Skills – In this session the goal was for youth and parents to state their concerns for the student in the coming year, see limitations of current communication skills in handling these concerns, and practice another model of communication in a structured setting.

Week 9: Jobs, Careers, and Informational Interviewing – In this session the goal was to identify gaps in knowledge about how schooling links to careers and provide youth with skills to obtain this information.

The authors site four components critical to the program's success: (1) a focus on changing youths' possible selves in the youths' everyday social environment, namely in the school and with their school peers, so as not to have to transfer insight gained in one context to another, (2) a focus on changing possible selves within a racially congruent context, with elements of a positive sense of connection, academic achievement as part of racial identity, and awareness of racism, (3) giving youth opportunity to connect present and future selves at their own pace, rather than through “insight”-based discussion, and (4) working in a mixed-sex context.
Funding Level Approximately $100,000 to develop, pilot, “manualize” the intervention, run the intervention, collect and analyze data, write it up, and write a follow-up grant to test the intervention in a larger number of schools during the school day.
Funding Sources National Institute of Mental Health


Overview The authors of the study took as their starting point the idea that low-income African-American youth, who are exposed to many “social risk factors,” including living in high-poverty neighborhoods, may face more difficulty in creating positive and believable possible selves focused on school as a pathway to adulthood. Norms highlighting the relevance of academic achievement for being African-American might be fostered in a social context geared toward articulating and building positive, academically oriented possible selves. The evaluation sought to measure whether the program was successful in building youths' possible selves and enhancing their attachment to school, which would then presumable lead to a smoother transition into successful adulthood.
Evaluator(s) Daphna Oyserman and Kathy Terry, University of Michigan

Deborah Bybee, Michigan State University
Evaluations Profiled A Possible Selves Intervention to Enhance School Involvement
Evaluations Planned The authors are currently seeking to replicate the intervention, this time with coded process information, as well as teacher reports and behavioral diary data to supplement the more global self-reported information gathered for this study.
Report Availability Oyserman, D., Terry, K., & Bybee, D. (2002, June). A possible selves intervention to enhance school involvement. Journal of Adolescence, 25, 313–326.


Evaluation Daphna Oyserman
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan
426 Thompson
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1248
Program Daphna Oyserman
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan
426 Thompson
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1248
Profile Updated March 12, 2003

Evaluation: A Possible Selves Intervention to Enhance School Involvement

Evaluation Description

Evaluation Purpose The evaluation sought to identify whether STJ had any impacts in the following areas: (1) connection to school, (2) possible selves, and (3) effort in school. By identifying these impacts, the evaluation sought to determine whether an after school intervention of this sort could be successful in helping low-income African-American students build a more positive future self-conception and also build identification with school as a pathway to success.
Evaluation Design Quasi-Experimental: The researchers sent letters to the parents describing a new after school program containing activities designed to help youth develop specific strategies for reaching goals in adulthood. Youth whose parents agreed were included in the intervention. Pre-intervention and end of year assessment measures were completed in class. Three years of data were collected (1995–1996, 1997–1998, 1998–1999). Impacts were assessed using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) controlling for gender, cohort (initial vs. subsequent years), and previous level of dependent variable in question. Sample size in the STJ group was 62, while another 146 were included in the control group, for a total sample size of 208. Some of the analyses used a smaller sample size of 148 due to inability to administer all questions to all three cohorts of students because of in-school time constraints. Open-ended questions were analyzed through content analysis methods.

STJ and control youth did not differ significantly on their grades at baseline (Mx=6.43, Mc=6.12, p=.11). They also did not differ significantly at baseline on the dependent variables school bonding (p=.23), concern about school (p=.07), number of “balanced” possible selves (p=.75), plausibility of their strategies to attain these possible selves (p=.89), frequency of getting into trouble in school (p=.42), or school attendance (p=.67).
Data Collection Methods Surveys/Questionnaires: Surveys were administered at baseline (fall) and year-end (spring) of each of the three cohort years. These questionnaires were anonymous, but did include identifying information on a separate list so that questionnaires could be linked from fall to spring. Surveys contained basic demographic data as well as measures of school bonding, concern about school, “balanced” academic possible selves (number of times youth described school-focused goals in terms of a positive expectation “balanced” by a related school-focused concern described as a feared self), plausible strategies for attaining these selves, avoidance of getting into trouble, and attendance. Responses were generally measured on Likert-type scales. In addition, some questions were open-ended in nature.
Data Collection Timeframe Data were collected during the 1995–1996, 1997–1998, and 1998–1999 school years.

Formative/Process Findings

Activity Implementation Teachers were notified that there was a new after school program, but not which students were participating; they also did not have any particular involvement with the program.

The sessions ran for 90 minutes, and were run in the latter two program years by undergraduates enrolled in an experiential psychology class. In the first pilot year, the evaluators led the sessions.

The program used a small-group, active learning paradigm, with a series of activities designed to promote a sense of youths' own vision for the future and to help them learn to develop strategies to help attain this vision. The goal was to develop a sequence of activities to help create a more explicit academic possible self and link this possible self to effort.
Costs/Revenues Participants were not reimbursed for their participation.
Parent/Community Involvement Parents were only brought into the program after seven sessions had been completed, so that youth could participate in the activities and articulate their own adult images in the absence of adult figures. The program sought to place adults in the program as tools for youth rather than as authority figures.
Program Context/Infrastructure The middle school from which students were drawn contained over 90% students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Students lived in neighborhoods with over 40% of families living in poverty (according to 1990 Census information).

A citywide drop in school funding resulted in the loss of school buses after the first year, further reducing attendance.
Recruitment/Participation Over 80% of students enrolled in the program participated, on average. The student body was highly transient, with a third of the student body present at the beginning of the year no longer present at the end of the year..

Summative/Outcome Findings

Academic By the end of the school year, STJ youth reported a greater sense of bonding to school (p=.03) and concern about school (p=.04) than did control youth, holding sex, cohort, and baseline level of these measures constant.

By the end of the school year, STJ youth were higher in school attendance (p=.003).
Prevention By the end of the school year, STJ boys reported that they got into trouble at school less frequently than control youth (p=.03). Girls did not differ in this respect.
Youth Development By the end of the school year, STJ youth reported more “balanced” possible selves (p=.04) and more plausible strategies to attain these possible selves (p=.06).

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