A Critical Review of the Evidence on the Effects of Community Based Programs on Young People’s Social and Emotional Skills Development.

Critical thinking is a technique of teaching that has been utilized for a long it. In essence, the root of critical thinking is connected to the probing questioning adopted by Socrates 2,500 years ago. The notion was that people would not logically justify their claims towards knowledge (Jackson, 2015). Lack of evidence towards claims of knowledge led Socrates to establish a method through which knowledge would be acquired, because the people in positions of authority were not dependable in regard to offering sound insight and knowledge. On the same note, critical thinking theory enhances the thinking process of an individual because it evaluates the process adopted rather than the end result of the thinking process. For instance, in a situation where the reading ability of two 6th graders is being carried out, critical thinking theory will be better suited because it is oriented towards comprehending the reading process instead of examining the consequence of reading. The reason for this is that critical thinking theory takes into account the relationship between background knowledge and the reading process that is ongoing. The article under evaluation is a review of the evidence on the impact of community-based programs on the social and emotional skills development of young people (Jackson, 2015). Critical thinking and critical thinking theory will be utilized in the evaluation of the review, with the intent of determining whether the evidence that has been provided stands out.

Barry, Clarke, Morreale and Field (2017) sought to carry out a review of the social and emotional skills development among young people following the realization that there was a growing body of international research, which demonstrated that the aforementioned programs had positive outcomes on the health, education, social and behavioral development of young people. The unfortunate fact concerning this recognition was that there was limited evidence on the same outside of the United States, meaning that even though these programs were effective, it was not clear whether they would achieve similar results when applied in other countries. In this regard, the review aimed at offering a narrative synthesis on the evidence of efficiency and effectiveness of community-based interventions seeking to enhance the development of emotional and social skills among young people in the United Kingdom. Evidence for the review was collected from 14 intervention studies that utilized experimental designs and they were conducted in the period 2004-2016 in the UK. These 14 studies were deemed efficient after because they fulfilled the selection criteria. Seven of these studies focused on the effects of youth social action intervention; 5 of them focused on mentoring programs; 2 focused on arts and sports intervention. From the studies on intervention, 6 were carried out within the last 2 years of the aforementioned period and the population that was involved in the study included young individuals from deprived communities (Barry, et al. 2017). On the same note, 5 of the studies utilized randomized control trials.

The review results demonstrated that there was a very small number of robust intervention studies that offered evidence of the effects of social action trials, at a total of 4 studies from those that were evaluated. From the studies on mentoring programs only 2 provided the necessary evidence that aligned with the review requirements. Nevertheless, the mentoring programs were keen in ensuring that the emotional and social skills of young people were enhanced, there was reduction in problems that related with behavior and enhanced community engagement. Nevertheless, none of the intervention studies had been previously rated, 8 of these studies had received a weak quality rating, which was a clear illustration that the strategy utilized in the collection of evidence was not effective. As such, the current evidence needed strengthening in order to effectively determine the impact of community based youth programs that aimed at enhancing their emotional and social skills development. This implied that further research on intervention programs for the social and emotional skills development of young people was required to help determine, which intervention strategies were effective and which would be sustained in the long term, based on the positive results that it would present.

The article under review is a good article that demonstrates the effectiveness of the intervention strategies and programs adopted with the aim of enhancing social and emotional skills development among young people.  From the analysis of the evidence provided, which was collected from the 14 intervention studies; the researchers have demonstrated that the evidence presented by the intervention studies was insufficient in leading towards a conclusive decision on which community based intervention approaches are effective to enhance the development of social and emotional skills among young people from deprived communities. In essence, it was easy to analyze the review article because of the organization of thoughts and articulation, which was coherent and concise. This demonstrated through the flow of the review article, which starts with an abstract that clearly expounds on what the review article is all about; this was followed by an introduction that presented the background information concerning the research topic; that is, the intervention approaches utilized to enhance the emotional and social skills development among young people from deprived communities, in this case, the intervention strategy being community-based. The need for the development of emotional and social skills among young people was clearly explained, and most especially why it was necessary for deprived communities from the UK, because most of the studies on intervention programs for young people had been carried out in the US, but every few from other countries (Barry, et al. 2017). Next was the policy and practice adopted in the UK, which related with the community programs that aimed at enhancing the social and emotional skills development for young people. One of the policies evaluated was the Framework of Outcomes for Young People,  which was published in 2012, and it aimed at informing the delivery of services for the youth in the country. This framework would also underscore the crucial emotional and social capabilities that would enhance the achievement of other outcomes among young people. At the same point it was established that the UK government had made tremendous efforts in enhancing the development of community based programs that would act as intervention approaches for the young people and thereby result in the development of their social and emotional skills. In this regard, the review explored the quality of the evidence that was provided in relation to the community based approaches that would enhance the development of emotional and social skills of young people. The reason for this was to help in the identification of the areas that demanded future research that would fill the gaps in the policy and practice of the UK.

The review further moved to the next step, which was the evaluation of the interventions implemented to the general youth population; however, the interventions implemented on diagnosed mental, physical and behavioral disorders was not included in the study, because it was not eligible to the current study. As previously aforementioned the studies on interventions implemented for the development of youth’s emotional and social skills were those from 2004 to 2016, in which quasi-experimental design and randomized controlled trial were utilized to assist in the evaluation process. The search strategy adopted to help identify the intervention studies that were effective for the review was evaluation of academic databases, which included PsychInfo, Embase, Scopus, Abstracts, Applied Social Science Index and British Education Index. In essence, these were quality sites in which peer reviewed research studies would be obtained and thus, the required evidence for the current study would be determined. After the determination of the appropriate research studies that would be utilized in the review of the current study, data collection was carried out and it involved the assessment of the quality of evidence that the research study provided in relation to the intervention program.

The methods section follows and it involved the study selection, in which systematic review was utilized to ensure that the study selected aligned with the guidelines that had been outlined by PRISMA in the 2009 checklist. Moreover, the review ensured that the interventions implemented were carried out within the UK community setting, which would imply that the study had a UK evaluation. The results section then followed, where the evidence collected from the studies examined was presented including the features of the community based youth programs that were evaluated from the studies. As aforementioned in the introduction part, the research results were presented based on the type of intervention that was adopted; that is, social interventions, youth arts and sports intervention and mentoring interventions. Following the presentation of the results; the discussion section followed, in which the results were compared and contrasted with the intent of determining which was effective in enhancing the development of social and emotional skills among young people (Barry, et al. 2017).

It is from the discussion that it was established that regardless of the presence of a wide array of innovative community-based youth programs that have been implemented in the UK, there was need for more effective and comprehensive research that would demonstrate the effects of the intervention in promoting the development of emotional and social skills among young people. The limitations of review were presented following the discussion section and they examined the gaps that future reviews would fill in relation to the intervention approaches adopted for the young people. The implication of the current study findings on future research was presented in order to set the path on which future research on the same topic will be carried out. The implications for policy and practice were also discussed because they would have a great impact on the future research of the same topic. Conclusion on what the review was all about was presented; in other words, the summary of what the review article was concerned about was presented in the conclusion section.

Even though the research findings from the research studies on intervention programs for the young people were not sufficient, the current study suspended its judgment and opted for further research studies in the future on the same topic. The future studies would evaluate the most effective intervention that would be implemented in order to enhance the development of emotional and social skills among young people. Nevertheless, this does not imply that the current study rather the review article cannot learn independently. It shows that the researchers were aware of the need for future research, which would fill the gaps that resulted from the limitations of the current study. The independence of the current study was demonstrated through its ability to align similar intervention studies, a strategy that resulted in the establishment of the three categories; the social action intervention; the youth arts and sports intervention and the mentoring programs. The review article applied problem solving techniques; shown through the three categories of intervention programs that were presented in the research studies evaluated.

In conclusion, the purpose of this assignment was to conduct a critical review on the evidence on the effects of community based programs on the development of emotional and social skills among young people. The background of critical thinking was presented, followed by the explanation of critical thinking theory, whose principles would be utilized in the critical review of the selected article. From the assessment of the review article, it was established that there was no effective intervention approach that was community based, which was effective in enhancing the development of social and emotional skills among young people in the UK, which was one of the deprived communities in which the study was set. In other words, following the determination that most research studies on the said topic focused on the US setting, there was need to evaluate their effectiveness in other countries, in this case the UK. The organization of thoughts was articulate, concise and coherent, making it easier to understand what the review article was all about. Nevertheless, since there were no conclusive evidence on the most effective intervention approach that should be implemented to help in the development of social and emotional skills of young people from deprived communities, in this case the focus being on community based programs, the researchers advised for commission of future research on the topic.

Reference List

Barry, M.M., Clarke, A.M., Morreale, S.E. and Field, C.A., 2017. A Review of the Evidence on the Effects of Community-based Programs on Young People’s Social and Emotional Skills Development. Adolescent Research Review, pp.1-15.

Jackson, S.L., 2015. Research methods and statistics: A critical thinking approach. Cengage Learning.

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