Within a framework of participatory action research, Lurie Children’s Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR) is collaborating with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) to develop, deliver, and evaluate the outcomes of a social and emotional learning (SEL)-based curriculum for the GirlSpace program, which aims to provide at-risk youth from urban, low-income and ethnic minority communities with a structured and supportive learning environment outside of school. This academic-community partnership utilizes mixed-method approach to examine curriculum refinement, implementation, and outcomes in order to improve the dissemination and sustainment of evidence-informed practices in community-based organizations.   

PI: Karen Gouze, PhD
Project Director: Sybil Baker, LCSW
Collaborators:  Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana staff: GirlSpace Leadership Facilitators and Managers, and Research and Evaluation team.
CCR Staff:  Caryn Curry, LCSW; Colleen Cicchetti, PhD; Sisi Guo, PhD

Approach/Methodology: Participatory action research involves active collaboration between academic and community partners throughout the research process. In this project, GSGCNWI and CCR worked together to develop a SEL-based after-school curriculum using social and emotional learning standards, advisory committee meetings, focus group discussions, and surveys with key informants (i.e., GirlSpace participants, facilitators, managers, and leadership). In order to evaluate the feasibility and initial utility of this SEL-based curriculum, a group of GirlSpace sites will receive the refined curriculum and another group of sites with similar baseline characteristics will receive the traditional curriculum. CCR and GSGCNWI will administer pre/post self-report measures to facilitators and youths who participate in the two groups to assess acceptability, implementation and adaptation, and limited efficacy.  

Research Questions

1.    Acceptability:  How do implementers and participants of the GirlSpace program view the SEL-based curriculum? 
2.    Implementation and Adaptation: How do implementers deliver the SEL-based curriculum? What changes/modifications do they make to the curriculum during implementation?
3.    Integration: To what extent is the SEL-based curriculum integrated into existing infrastructure of the GirlSpace program? What are the facilitators and barriers to organizational integration?  
4.    Initial utility/limited-efficacy:  Does the SEL-based curriculum produce intended change on key indicators (e.g., knowledge and use of SEL skills, mood and behavior symptoms, academic functioning)?