Academic Tutoring and Social Skills Training

An Effective Practice


Academic Tutoring and Social Skills Training program is a social competence and academic achievement intervention for grade school children who are socially rejected and have serious academic problems in reading or mathematics. The program draws on the social skills training procedures of Gary Ladd and the skills-oriented academic learning model of Michael and Lise Wallach. The social skills training component consists of a trainer working with a child once a week for 6 weeks. The essence of this component involves pairing a target child in play with another child from the classroom and coaching the target child in appropriate behaviors (such as participation, cooperation, communication, and validation or support) before and after these play periods. The academic skills training component involves having the student meet with tutors for individual 45-minute sessions, twice a week. The essence of the academic skills training involves a detailed and graduated method of teaching by building cumulatively on secondary skills that the child has already mastered. The application of behavioral techniques was used to help the child develop a sense of efficacy and self-confidence.

Goal / Mission

The goal of this program is to encourage social and academic development among grade school children who are socially rejected and have serious academic problems in reading or mathematics.

Results / Accomplishments

A random-assignment, experimental design with control group and a pretest–posttest follow-up assessment was used to test the differential effectiveness of the academic tutoring and social skills training on low-achieving, socially rejected fourth graders. Results indicated that students in the academic skills training (AS) condition had significant improvement in reading, math, and social preference scores. Significant gains were made in reading comprehension, mathematics application, and mathematics computation, with marginally significant effects for reading vocabulary. All but the math progress was sustained at follow-up. While all three treatment conditions produced significant improvements in peer ratings, the AS condition was superior to the social skills training (SS) and the combined condition. Regarding behavioral observation, AS groups increased in their solitary on-task behavior time and decreased their solitary, nondisruptive off-task behavior. The AS group also received significant increases in positive teacher attention. Though the social skills training component adopted for this program had shown efficacy with other populations of children, in this study the AS component was the most effective in promoting positive change on achievement and social preference scores.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
John Lochman
University of Alabama
Psychology Department
P.O. Box 870348, 348 Gordon Palmer Hall
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487–0348
(205) 348-7678
Education / Student Performance K-12
Education / School Environment
Social Environment / Children's Social Environment
University of Alabama
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Model Programs Guide (MPG)
Date of publication
Durham, NC
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Target Audience