Brief Articles

Group-Centered After-School Community-Based Prevention Program

Anna Thompson, MA
Anna Thompson, MA

Anna Louise Thompson, MA
University of South Carolina Aiken

Over the past few years, South Carolina has started to implement The Common Core State Standards (CCSS). CCSS is “a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics” (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2014). This study focuses on the English language arts portion starting in 2011. CCSS began its transition period in South Carolina in the year 2011. This school year, 2013-2014 CCSS is being used for instructional purposes and by next year, 2014-2015, it will be fully executed (South Carolina State Department of Education, 2014). Reading scores have shown a slight improvement during the past 3 years since CCSS has been implemented. In 2011, the growth rating of Aiken in the SC Annual School Report was below the average mean but in 2012 and 2013 the scores improved to above the average mean. Unfortunately, the overall percent scores of South Carolina and Aiken County have been below the national average for the past three years. The majority of students, 39%, tested in public schools in Aiken County were below basic, which is below the average score, in reading. Thirty-four percent of students tested at basic, 25 percent were proficient, which is above the average score, and only 7% tested at advanced, which is the highest level possible, in reading (South Carolina State Department of Education, 2014).

Even though the growth of Aiken County School District showed improvement, there is still much needed work. The growth average of student’ scores reflect improvement from one testing period to the next (South Carolina State Department of Education, 2014). Reading scores in Aiken County increased from 2011 to 2013 from 74.1% to 74.6%, only a .5 difference (South Carolina State Department of Education, 2014). The reading score percent is the reading scores of children, amount correct divided by the total, converted into a percent out of 100 (South Carolina State Department of Education, 2014). The national scores have also increased, but at a higher rate going from 74.3% to 76.9%, a greater difference of 2.6 (South Carolina State Department of Education, 2014). This may imply the CCSS is making an improvement, but not a great enough improvement to really make a difference. By implementing the CCSS, the goal is to have all children learn the same material to give everyone a chance to thrive in the community. It also allows for teachers to understand what all of the children need to learn.

This idea of common standards may not work for all children. Children work and learn at different speeds and ways, which entail not all children learning in the same program. Some children may fall behind in school because they cannot keep up the fast pace of staying with the other classmates. Teachers have certain standards they must implement during the school year in order to follow along with CCSS. The Reading Orienteering Club (ROC) program allows for children who are failing in reading, to learn the basics they need to thrive in this fast paced society. ROC helps children learn how to read and understand what is being read, along with working together as a group to help with behavior problems that may happen in the classroom setting (Clanton & Harpine, 2013).

Family Structure and Literacy
Teachers in the public and private schools interact with the children on an almost daily basis to teach them the needed information to thrive in today’s society. Teachers and parents need to work together in order to help educate children. The family can help influence good learning outcomes. Some children are given more educational experiences through living with more than one parent. Other children have a harder time learning due to ever changing environments such as changing out-of-home placements. One factor in a child’s reading ability may be the type of family structure and environment the children are being raised in.

There are many different aspects to a family structure, many of which involve the specific family members. These include single parent families, families with both biological parents, and even parents whom are not the biological parents. These different family structures, given the right tools, could continue to raise children who show great strides in learning material in school. Family structure in this study is defined by who is in charge of the household. In family settings that have two biological parents, one or both parents have a job and one or both parents help around the house. In family settings where there is only one biological parent, the mother is in charge of the household. When there is no biological parent, the participants were in out-of care homes such as foster homes or organizations that give residency to children up to the age of 21 years old. These children have been court ordered by the South Carolina Department of Social Services or the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice to stay in custodial care.

Literacy includes reading, spelling, and comprehension. Literacy is important especially as a child due to the influence it has on later life experiences including jobs, secondary education, and day to day activities. Literacy affect’s not only a child’s schooling, but also their adult life which may result in poor adult outcomes. Spelling is the skill of putting letters together correctly to form a word and reading is the skill of putting these letter sounds together to read written or printed material aloud (Clanton Harpine, 2013). Comprehension is the ability to understand what is being read and use what is read to: elaborate on material, continue with stories, apply it to today’s world, and complete activities based off reading material (Clanton Harpine, 2013). During Petrill, Deater-Deckard, Schatschneider, and Davis’s adoption study, they realized that the family environment was related to reading results instead of genetics (2005). The current study includes children from several family structures to expand on the thoughts of family environment. Literature has also shown the influence of foster care on children’s literacy knowledge. Zima and associates (2000) acknowledged the fact of other studies showing behavior and academic issues arising from the different types of foster care including “non-kinship family, therapeutic, and group” (p. 89). A few of these foster cares are represented in this present study.

This study describes the outcomes of the ROC, “a year-long group-centered after-school community-based prevention program that emphasizes phonological awareness, reading and writing, spelling, and intensive hands-on instruction” (Clanton Harpine, 2013, p. ix). Group intervention involves children working as a team to complete tasks set before them. Each child is responsible for their own work, but work in groups using the same tools, instructions and helping each other when needed. The ROC uses vowel clustering, the 4-step method, and group-centered prevention interventions to improve the literacy scores and behavior of the children, primarily 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders, of Aiken County in South Carolina. The step method involves having the children: (a) capture tricky words, words they do not know, (b) write the word correctly, (c) look up the words in the dictionary to find the definition, (d) and write sentences using these words (Clanton Harpine, 2013). This lets the children correct themselves, learn a new word, and get a better comprehension of the word. The main goals for this program is for the children to practice “reading, writing, spelling, focusing their attention, comprehension, following step-by-step instruction, learning new words, and practicing a specific vowel cluster for the day” (Clanton Harpine, 2013, xi).

At the ROC, a goal is to bring a child from reading below the appropriate reading level to reading at or above their age level (grade). One study conducted used children from 14 elementary schools (Hatcher et al., 2006). The children were split into two groups. One group received small group intervention for 20 weeks and the other received the intervention for only the second 10 weeks. During the first 10 weeks of the full 20 week program, students improved more than the other children who did not receive the first half of the program (Hatcher et al., 2006). On the other hand the second group who only received the small group intervention during the second set of 10 weeks, caught up to the first group. This may mean the amount of small group intervention does not matter, only that it is utilized. The current study also looks at how long each of the 32 participants stayed in the ROC program and their final scores.


The participants of this study included 32 children who received no compensation or coercion in participating. The children were in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade. There were 15 male participants and 17 female participants. All the participants were enrolled in the Aiken County school system. Twenty-six of these participants were enrolled in public school. One participant was enrolled in a charter school and five were home schooled. Ages ranged from 5 years old to 12 years old. Nine participants were Caucasian, 21 participants were African American and two were of mixed decent. Of the 32 participants, 14 lived with two biological parents, 12 lived with one biological parent, and six lived with no biological parents. Twenty-one students were able to stay in the correct grade level occupied by their age group, while seven were one grade level behind, five were two grade levels behind, and one participant was five grade levels behind.

Materials and Procedure
In order to correctly test the level of each child, the children all completed the same test. The skills were assessed using the Howard Street Tutoring Manual, 2nd ed (2005) by Darrell Morris. The test data on internal reliability, which was 0.85, and validity of test, which was 0.70, was also completed by Morris (Morris, Tyner, & Perney, 2007, Morris & Carter, 1997). The children are first tested before the program begins in the fall to get a starting level. Then the children are tested using the same test in the winter as a mid-point test to see any improvement made and any areas that may need more help. Lastly, the children are tested in the spring at the completion of the program for that year to see how far they improved. Thirteen of the children who completed the ROC program continued for an additional 4 months and were tested before the start of the school new year and again for mid-point testing. In cases of repeated testing, testing effects are those in which children score better on later tests, because they have already complected the test previously. There was no testing effect discovered.

Each child was given the same test during the beginning, middle, and end of the ROC program. The test consisted of reading, spelling, comprehension, and sight word sections. Each section was then split into three more sections, which corresponded to 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade levels. Scores were organized by reading level and the amount missed, spelling level and the amount missed, sight word level and the amount missed, and the comprehension scores which consisted of the amount missed by the participants. The data was placed into a SPSS file and then compared.

This study is a quasi-experimental study. The dependent variable is completing the ROC program. The two independent variables are the type of family structure and the time of measurement. This study has a mixed design with the independent variable of, time of measurement, and the type of family structure as the between-subject variable. Three different family structures include: two biological parents, one biological parent, and no biological parents. The groups of children who have no biological parents live in a group home setting or foster care. The 32 children who completed the Reading Orienteering Club (ROC) fall under one of these categories of family structure. Fourteen of these children live with two biological parents and 12 children live with only one biological parent. One child lives in a group setting, and five children live in foster homes. Potential confounding variables include the highest level of the guardian’s education, the amount of encouragement received from the school and home environment, the amount of opportunities given to each child, sex of the children, and the race of the child. The types of schooling include: public school, including charter school and home school.


This study tested the hypothesis that children who participated in the ROC and lived with two biological parents would show greater improvement in reading, spelling, and comprehension than children who lived with only one or no biological parent. The second part of this study involved children completing the ROC program for an additional 4 months. These four months corresponded to one semester in a school year. The second null hypothesis of this study was there would be no relationship between ROC literacy scores and the additional participation. The second alternative hypothesis was, children who participated in the ROC for an additional semester would show greater improvement than the children who only participated for a year. Three groups were compared: children with two biological parents, children with one biological parent, and children with no biological parents.

This hypothesis was tested using a repeated measures ANOVA. It was 3 (FSgroup) x 3 (pre, mid, post) using mixed design. Overall, the three groups of children; children with two biological parents, children with one biological parent, and children with no biological parents had similar improvements in all areas. The only exception would be in the test for spelling. The results showed the group of children with two biological parents had the most spelling words correct before, during, and after the ROC program, only slightly better than the rest. Overall, all groups made little progress throughout the program. The children with one biological parent missed the most spelling words during and after the ROC program. The main effect of family structure was significant. None of the interaction effects between time and family structures were significant.

On the other hand, children with no biological parents had the highest reading levels out of the three groups before and during the program. During the final testing session, the children with 2 biological parents surpassed the other three groups with the reading levels, but did not miss the least number of sight words. In the final testing the children with only one biological parent missed the least amount of sight words. Unfortunately, these children missed the most comprehension questions, but the children with two biological parents missed the least number of comprehension questions. These children also had the highest sight word levels throughout the program and missed the least number of sight words, until the very end when the children with no biological parents, missed the least. There was a significant main effect for reading, F(1, 20) = 9.43, p = .006. There was also a significant main effect for spelling, F(2, 40) = 7.00, p = .002. The main effect for comprehension only approached significant, F(2, 38) = 3.01 , p = .061. The last significant main effect was sight words, F(2, 38) = 14.12, p = < .001.

A second aspect of this study involved 13 children who completed the ROC program for 2 years. These 13 children represent the three different types of family structures in this study. Children living with no biological parents started with the highest level for spelling words, next, were children with two biological parents, and children with no biological parents had the lowest level of spelling. After being in the program for 2 years, all of the children had improved in the level of spelling. Also, the children stayed in the same rank as in the beginning which means the children all improved about the same. Another interesting finding is children who had no biological parents missed the least amount of spelling words throughout the entire program. This trend continues through the reading level, the amount of reading comprehension missed, and level of sight words. There was a significant main effect for reading, F(4, 36) = 3.28, p = .022. There was also a significant main effect for spelling, F(4, 36) = 2.97, p = .032. A significant main effect was not found for comprehension, F(4, 36) = 0.99, p = .428. The last significant main effect was sight words, F(4, 32) = 2.70, p = .048. The participants who completed the additional participation in the ROC program showed greater improvement in literacy.

In concern with the original hypothesis of children who participated in the ROC, living with two biological parents would show greater improvement in reading, spelling, and comprehension; the amount of sight words missed showed support. The children who lived with two biological parents went from missing the most sight words, to missing the least amount after the 2 years. The amount of reading missed also supported this hypothesis due to the children living with two biological parents missed the largest number of words while reading in the beginning of the ROC program and then missed the least amount after 2 years.


There was no support for the hypothesis that children who participated in the ROC and who lived with two biological parents would show greater improvement in reading, spelling, and comprehension. All three groups had similar scores for the pretests, midtests, and posttests. There was also no interaction with time and all groups showed similar changes over the course of the program. All the children improved despite their type of family structure; one biological parent, two biological parents, or three biological parents.

There are many reasons for the hypothesis to not be supported. The hypothesis may have been correct but the problem may lie in the study itself. There are many different confounding variables. Some of these include: the sex of the child, any extra help, the type of school, grade, age, race, and the amount of levels held back. Gender was an aspect looked at during this study, in order to help explain the results. A statistical significance was the found for the race of the children living with one biological parent; there were more females than males. Out of these children, more females read better than males.

Concerning the ages of the participants, the participants were the ages of 5 and 8 years old. Of these children, only 3 out of the 17 participants had some sort of after school care which involved which involved community-based and free after-school care for low socio-economic neighborhoods. In fact, one child who was 8 years old, participating from a community-based after-school program made the lowest scores in spelling by missing the most words. Also, one participant who was placed in an out of home placement, made the lowest scores of all the children which made the scores skewed. Concerning the schooling, only five out of the 34 participants were home schooled. These participants were about the same in dealing with overall scores within the group. For future studies, these different confounding variables should be looked into in detail in order to determine which makes the most impact on the child. The concept behind the ROC program is to help all children learn how to read in order to better their lives now and in the future. The ROC program is able to accomplish this goal by having all children start at the same beginning step (E. Clanton Harpine, personal communication, May 8, 2014).

A follow-up study is planned to commence this fall 2014 and results are planned to be reported in TGP.


Clanton Harpine, E. (2013). After-School Prevention Programs for At-Risk Students. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-7416-6

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2014). Retrieved from

Gayán, J., & Olson, R. K. (2001). Genetic and environmental influences on orthographic and phonological skills in children with reading disabilities. Developmental Neuropsychology, 20, 487–511.

Hatcher, P. J., Hulme, C., Miles, J. V., Carroll, J. M., Hatcher, J., Gibbs, S., & … Snowling, M. J. (2006). Efficacy of small group reading intervention for beginning readers with reading-delay: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(8), 820-827. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01559.x

Petrill, S. A., Deater-Deckard, K., Schatschneider, C., & Davis, C. (2005). Measured environmental influences on early reading: Evidence from an adoption study. Scientific Studies of Reading, 9(3), 237-259. doi:10.1207/s1532799xssr0903_4

South Carolina State Department of Education. (2014). Retrieved from

Zima, B. T., Bussing, R., Freeman, S., Yang, X., Belin, T. R., & Forness, S. R. (2000). Behavior problems, academic skill delays and school failure among school-aged children in foster care: Their relationship to placement characteristics. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 9(1), 87-103. doi:10.1023/A:1009415800475


Election Results

Craig D. Parks, Ph.D. President Elect





Amy G. Nitza, Ph.D. Treasurer





Jill D. Paquin, Ph.D., Member at Large





Rosamond J. Smith, MA, Student Representative





Thanks to all who were nominated as we appreciate your dedication and contributions to the Society. We hope to see you in the future. Thanks are also extended to the members of the Nominations and Elections Committee.


From Your Editors

Tom Treadwell, Ed.D., T.E.P, CGP

Leann Terry Diederich, Ph.D.
Associate Editor

Members of the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy value groups and understand the importance of group dynamics. That is one of the reasons why attending annual conferences focused on groups can be so rewarding, as it allows us to connect with like-minded individuals. The recent American Group Psychotherapy Association’s (AGPA) meeting in Boston was exciting as many members presented challenging workshops and colloquiums. We enjoyed seeing many of you there!

We are now looking forward to APA’s Convention in Washington DC this August. The Society offers a compelling presentation schedule that is promising excellent programming for all attendee’s along with a number of programs for continuing education (CE) credits. This is an excellent way to get and stay reconnected, gain new skills and knowledge, and come together as part of a larger group to revitalize and enjoy each other’s company.

In this issue, you can read about the following:

  • President Lee Gillis is focused on helping undergraduates connect to both group psychology and group psychotherapy graduate programs. Lee developed a team of students and Early Career Psychologists (ECPs) who constructed a survey of graduate programs to ascertain the depth and breadth of their graduate studies in-group. Preliminary results suggest a very positive direction. He is planning to have a more complete report in the next TGP along with a listing those graduate programs that gave us permission to do so.
  • President Elect Dennis Kivlighan Jr. plans to focus on connecting and furthering the group experience asking Society members to video tape conversations about groups and about the Society. He urges members to consider participating in the GroupVoices project. All you need to do to participate in this GroupVoices project is to get a conversation partner and videotape your conversation.

The current issue of The Group Psychologist is our 2nd newsletter (Vol. 24, No.2) delivered as an electronic edition promoting a navigational format allowing members to traverse the pages quickly. We believe this is an excellent way to offer expanded content in an electronic format to our membership beyond the content on the Division website. Yet we are curious as to how our members have received the new version. We are entertaining the idea of sending a quick survey to members to gain feedback to assist us in developing a reader friendly newsletter.

This issue has links to individual articles, tabs across top of pages (for current issue, past issues, guidelines for authors, link to website, about TGP the Division, how to join the division, and a link to Facebook ). If you like one of the articles you read, be sure to comment, send it via email to a colleague, or “like” it on Facebook.

Articles or brief reports and news items can be e-mailed directly to Tom, Leann, Letitia, and Noranne at, as can Letters to the Editor. We encourage your feedback regarding this electronic format and want you to share your thoughts with us.


President-Elect Column

Dennnis M. Kivlighan , Jr., PhD
Dennnis M. Kivlighan , Jr., PhD

Dennis M. Kivlighan, Jr., Ph.D.

I have jogged or walk most mornings for the past 35 years. At various times three different dogs have been my companions during these early morning outings; however my most consistent companion has been Morning Edition on National Public Radio. I enjoy and usually learn something from all of the different segments on Morning Edition but the segments that often touches me on a deeper level are the Friday morning StoryCorps broadcasts.

StoryCorps is an oral history project that records and archives peoples conversations. Participants often talk about their experiences, their relationship and their feelings toward each other. Within StoryCorps there are a number different initiatives focusing on specific issues or populations. Some of these special initiatives include: The Historias Initiative which collects the living history of Latinos in the United States; StoryCorps OutLoud which records and preserves the experiences of the LGBTQ community; and StoryCorps Legacy which archives stories of those living with serious illness and the ones who support them.

These StoryCorps conversations are engaging, compelling, real, touching, funny, sad, hopeful and meaningful. These are many of the same qualities that attract me to groups and to group therapy. Those of you who have listened to StoryCorps probably have had similar reactions. If you have never listened to Story Corps I encourage you to checkout their archives using this link: One of my favorite conversations can be found at this link:

At our board meeting last winter we talked about starting a StoryCorps type of initiative within in the Society. Our idea is to ask Division 49 members to video tape conversations about groups and about the Society. Please consider this a formal invitation to participate in our GroupVoices project. All you need to do to participate in this Group Voices project is to get a conversation partner and videotape your conversation. Your conversations can be with anybody meaningful to you in your group experiences. It could be a conversation with a teacher, mentor, research partner, co-leader, student, colleague, group member or group leader. You may want to consider talking about: what or who drew you to working with or doing research on groups; some of your meaningful group related experiences; and/or what you have learned about groups. We also hope that you will consider talking about your experiences in Division 49. For example, how did you get involved in the Society, what have your experiences with the Society been like, and your hopes and dreams for the Society.

We already have one conversation in our GroupVoices project. You can check out the conversation between Gary Burlingame (Gary is well known to many people in Division 49 as a prolific and sophisticated group researcher, an innovative and involved group teacher and mentor and the first Associate Editor of Group Dynamics: Theory Research and Practice) and Sean Woodland (one of Gary’s students at Brigham Young University and the student representative on the Division 49 Board) at:

If you decide to participate in our GroupVoices project (and I really hope that all of you do decide to participate) you can send video recorded conversation or a YouTube link to me at


President’s Column

Lee Gillis, PhD
Lee Gillis, Ph.D.

Lee Gillis, Ph.D.

As this is the preconvention column I’d like to begin by highlighting a few important events. We hope all of you will join us for the Arthur Teicher Group Psychologist of the Year address to be given by Dr. Les Greene. That event will take place on Saturday, August 9 at noon in the Convention Center. Dr. Green joins an illustrious group of previous winners and we’re looking forward to hearing his remarks.

We also have an invited address by Dr. Ruth Ellen Josselson that will take place on Thursday, August 7 at 2:00 in the Convention Center.

  • Numerous students and other division members will be presenting posters on Thursday at 1:00 in the Convention Center. We hope you can join us in this session as well as the other skills sessions and symposia that will presented at the annual convention. Dr. Jill Paquin and Dr. Joe Miles have done an exceptional job of putting together this year’s program.
  • Least I forget, the business meeting of the Society will be Friday afternoon at 3:00 in the Convention Center and our Annual Social will take place on Saturday 6:00-9:00 in the Division’s Suite. We have been confirmed for a suite in the Grand Hyatt Hotel. As in past years, the room number of the suite will be available at the convention.

Let me say how much I appreciate the work of your elected board members, our journal and newsletter editors, and the program chairs for the convention. This is been quite an active group for the past six months. They are serving you well!

Here is a short update on several of the initiatives that are taking place this year.

  • Firstly, working in collaboration with Sean Woodland, student representative; Rosamond Smith, student member; and Dr. Leann Diederich, membership chair. A survey was sent to Directors of Training in both clinical and counseling psychology programs to ascertain the importance placed on group. So far we have received 54 responses. Sixty three percent of those responding reported to provide a group specific class. Eighty one percent of those group classes were experiential; 60% involved rotating leadership, 52% utilized peer leadership. When asked about the value placed on various therapy modalities using a 10 point scale, individual therapy received a 9.65 compared with the group with a 5.84, family with a 5.7, and couples with a 4.95. These are all preliminary numbers. We plan to have a more complete report in the next TGP along with a listing those graduate programs that gave us permission to do so.
  • Secondly, at the Midwinter meeting the Board voted to support our secretary, Dr. Jennifer Alonso, to increase our visibility on social networking sites. She was authorized to oversee someone who would make regular postings to our Facebook group in order to increase the visibility of the society, especially among early career professionals and students. Anyone who “likes” the Facebook group for Society has seen a substantial uptick in daily postings! These postings are supplemented by “Wisdom on Wednesdays”, a project of our ECP group. Current plans are to expand posting to Google+, LinkedIn, and to use our Twitter account during the convention to keep members who wish to follow us abreast of events in the moment.
  • Thirdly, many of you responded to the survey requests asking your opinion of beginning a second journal. An ad hoc committee led by Dr. Joe Powers is conducting this work. This group is examining the results of the survey and will make a recommendation to the Board at the August meeting.
  • Again, I want to encourage interested members to explore the APA communities, the membership-only website, where we are storing current and archival information about the Division, including our current Bylaws, Policy manual, minutes, and budgets. There are other features on the site that may or may not be used in the future; for now it serves as excellent cloud storage for materials that heretofore have been stored on various board members computers or in storage boxes.

I do hope everyone’s summer is going well and I look forward to seeing all of you at the Convention in Washington or online. Do not hesitate to contact me at or 478-445-0865.