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Program Description

Overview and Components The Impact of After-School Programs That Promote Personal and Social Skills review systematically evaluated the impact of after school programs that sought to enhance youth’s personal and social skills. This review identified the nature and magnitude of the outcomes of these after school programs using meta-analysis and described the features that characterize effective programs.
Start Date 2007 (also completed in 2007)
Scope national
Type after school
Location urban, suburban, rural
Setting public school, private school, community-based organization, religious institution, private facility, recreation center
Participants kindergarten through high school students
Number of Sites/Grantees 73 programs
Number Served not applicable
Study Details This review examined evaluations of after school programs whose goals included the promotion of personal and social skills (e.g., problem solving, conflict resolution, self-control, leadership, responsible decision making, enhancement of self-efficacy and self-esteem). The study identified programs that served youth between the ages of 5 and 18, operated during at least part of the school year, and occurred outside of normal school hours.
Funding Level not applicable
Funding Sources William T. Grant Foundation
Researchers Joseph A. Durlak, Ph.D., Loyola University Chicago

Roger P. Weissberg, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago
Research Profiled The Impact of After-School Programs That Promote Personal and Social Skills
Research Planned None
Report Availability Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2007). The impact of after-school programs that promote personal and social skills. Chicago: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Available at:


Research Joseph A. Durlak, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Loyola University Chicago
6525 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, Il 60626
Tel: 773-508-2969

Roger P. Weissberg, Ph.D.
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Department of Psychology (MC 285)
University of Illinois at Chicago
1007 West Harrison Street
Chicago, IL 60607-7137
Tel: 312-413-1012
Profile Updated August 3, 2007

Research Study: The Impact of After-School Programs That Promote Personal and Social Skills

Research Description

Research Purpose To answer two questions: What types of outcomes result from after school program that attempt to foster youth’s personal and social skills? What program characteristics are associated with better results?
Research Design Experimental and Quasi-Experimental: The review included a total of 73 after school programs. Of these, 66 assessed posttest outcomes (i.e., immediately following the intervention); 7 collected only follow-up data (i.e., at some point after the youth had left the program). Posttest effects were based on the endpoint of the youth’s program participation. That is, if two reports were available on the same program and one contained results after 1 year of participation while the second offered information after 2 years of participation, only the latter data were evaluated.

Three primary methodological features were coded: use of a randomized design, problems with attrition, and the reliability of the outcome measure. Data for outcomes were grouped into eight categories: two assessed feelings and attitudes (child self-perceptions and school bonding); three were indicators of behavioral adjustment (positive social behaviors, problem behaviors, and drug use); and three assessed school performance (achievement test results, school grades, and school attendance).

The authors hypothesized that programs that followed evidenced-based training approaches, as suggested by other research studies targeting the promotion of social skills, would be more effective than programs not following these practices. They coded four features of evidence-based programming that formed the rubric: SAFE. This acronym referred to whether or not programs were sequential (i.e., did the program use a sequenced set of activities to achieve the objectives related to skill development?); active (i.e., did the program use active forms of learning to help youth learn new skills?); focused (i.e., did the program have at least one program component specifically devoted to developing personal or social skills?); and explicit (i.e., did the program target and identify the specific personal or social skills youth were expected to learn?). Programs that possessed all four features were placed into one group for later analysis, and the remaining programs, which did not contain all four features, constituted a second group of programs. When examining whether program effects varied by program characteristics, analyses controlled for the methodological features of the studies.
Data Collection Methods Document Review: Reports were identified through a systematic review of published and unpublished studies. To be included, reports had to have a control group, present sufficient data for analysis and appear between 1983 and December 31, 2006. Researchers estimated the magnitude of effects obtained from each program using meta-analysis, and then examined how the magnitude of these estimated effects differed for the two groups of programs (i.e., the SAFE group versus the remaining programs).
Data Collection Timeframe Included reports spanned evaluations that appeared from 1983 through 2006.

Summative/Outcome Findings

Academic Youth who participated in after school programs improved significantly in their academic performance (school bonding, grades, and achievement test scores; p < .05) compared to control group youth. Results were insignificant for school attendance. Positive impacts were only present for programs that used all four evidence-based training approaches (i.e., the SAFE group of programs).
Prevention Youth who participated in after school programs exhibited significant declines compared to control group youth in their problem behaviors and drug use (p < .05). These impacts were also only present for the SAFE group of programs.
Youth Development Youth who participated in after school programs improved significantly in their self-confidence and self-esteem (p < .05) compared to control group youth. Consistent with the other findings, these positive results were only present for the SAFE group of programs.


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