Guide Role of Social Skills Training in Improving Social Competence in Individuals with Mental Retardation

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Early Childhood Social and Emotional Learning

Third party cookies on our pages Please note that during your visits to our website you may notice some cookies which are unrelated to us. Measurement of social competence at this time was usually complex, disjointed, and varied greatly among research efforts. For example, Gottman, Gonso, and Rasmussen studied the relationship among social interaction, social competence, and friendship in children. They measured social competence by way of classroom behavioral assessments and a battery of social skills assessments including asking children to label emotions of facial expressions, complete perspective-taking tasks similar to the mountain problems employed by Piaget, give directions to blindfolded listeners, and participate in to role-playing activities with the experimenter making friends and giving help.

In efforts to determine why some children were not exhibiting social skills in some interactions, social information processing models were devised to explain what happens in a social interaction.


Examples include those models devised by Dodge et al. They believed that social behavior reflected automaticity in thinking, and in carrying out the following steps: selecting a social goal, examining the environment, accessing and selecting strategies, implementing a strategy, and evaluating the outcome of the strategy.

Their model acknowledged the influence of self-perceptions, attributions, and affect on completion of these five steps. Studies at this time which reflected the ideas of Dodge, Rubin, and Rose-Krasnor, often looked at the relationship between social cognition interpersonal understanding and means-ends problem-solving ability and social competence. In , Rotheram employed several measurement tools to investigate how interpersonal problem solving, assertiveness, and self-esteem were related to academic competence and social competence with peers and teachers. Peer social competence was assessed by having each child identify three best friends in the classroom.

He identified three subdomains of social competence: adaptive behavior, social skills, and peer acceptance. While this third aspect could be looked at as an outcome or result of socially competent behavior, measurement of peer acceptance is often used in assessing social competence. Gresham and Reshly examined a handful of the assessment tools available for the measurement of adaptive behavior, social skills, and peer acceptance. They found that the assessment of social competence was hindered by an interaction among the method employed by a measure, the setting it targets, and the content of the items on the measure.

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While, in many cases, these measures claimed to be measuring similar constructs, they could not be directly compared without accounting for other features of the measures such as who the respondent was e. The authors suggested that multiple methods should be used to assess social behavior in several settings by means of scales that incorporated varied content.

Hughes and Hall made a similar recommendation after discussing the problems of reliability and validity in many social competence measures. They proposed that school psychologists first gather evaluative data on child clients via sociometric procedures and teacher rating scales, conduct semistructured interviews with the child to form hypotheses about specific deficits, and administer measures that would provide information about cognitive and behavioral skill deficits.

Research during this time often focused on children who were not displaying social skills in efforts to identify and help these children who were potentially at risk of long-term negative outcomes due to poor social interactions. Gresham and Elliott , cited in Kennedy, proposed that these children could have one of four deficits: skill deficits, in which children did not have the knowledge or cognitive abilities to carry out a certain behavior, performance deficits, self-control skill deficits, and self-control performance deficits, in which children had excessive anxiety or impulsivity that prohibited proper execution of the behaviors or skills they knew and understood.

Measurement and Assessment of Social Competence

While some definitions and assessment methods looked at specific behaviors exhibited by children, others tried to tap underlying abilities. Simultaneously, there was disagreement about whether social competence should be thought of as a trait or as a series of acquired skills. They also incorporated the idea that goals, strategies, and outcomes had to be effective and appropriate to differing agrees.

Psychology has still not offered a concrete, comprehensive definition of social competence. In addition, the assessment tools used by practitioners and researchers, which claim to assess the construct of social competence, in truth look at a variety of concepts and ideas making it difficult to compare the results of research efforts or draw conclusions about how social competence effects the development of children. While disagreement still exists, psychologists and researchers increasingly acknowledge the differences within definitions and assessments and finding useful similarities among them.

For example, in , Merrell compared several behavioral rating scales e. The School Social Behavior Scales consist of a social competence scale and an antisocial behavior scale. The Social Competence scale measures interpersonal skills, self-management skills, and academic skills. These measurement tools are no longer used in isolation, and research suggests that, in order to overcome instrument, source, and setting variance, assessments should be ecological and comprehensive.

Sheridan, Hungelmann, and Maughan suggested that ecological assessments will allow practitioners to identify social skills that are meaningful and appropriate within the settings children live in and to assess important features of the environments, such as physical characteristics, demands of the environment, and behavioral contingencies for specific actions.

Use of a multimethod, multisource, and multisetting assessment recognizes that social environments are dynamic and distinct from one another. Research involving social competence continues to pursue ideas discussed in the historical overview. In addition, new agendas have been developed to further our understanding of how and why social competence is important in the healthy development of children.

Ladd wrote that current research was examining how child behaviors and peer relationships uniquely contributed to future development or adjustment. Past research has assumed the poor peer relationships were a primary cause of maladjustment, and targeted specific behavioral or skill deficits in order to improve social interactions. However, it is also possible that the socially incompetent behaviors themselves are in some way contributing to future developmental problems.

For example, anxiety or anger in social situations has been shown to contribute to performance deficits in social functioning. This idea is of particular importance in the development for groups of children at risk of poor social competence, such as those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Continued research in this area will contribute to the development of precise and useful definitions of social competence, as well as the creation and appropriate use of assessment tools. These advances will aid in effective communication among professionals such as school psychologists who use the term social competence regularly and frequently assess the social functioning of their clients. In an environment such as educational institutions where collaboration among professionals is essential, this common language will greatly improve how we effectively serve our children.

Various overview articles and handbook chapters provide information about the history of research in the area of social competence, previous definitions of social competence, as well as definitions that are currently considered as comprehensive and descriptive of this complex construct. Pellegrini, D. Social cognition and competence in middle childhood. As part of his introduction to an empirical study on social cognition and competence in middle childhood, Pellegrini points out that Jahoda, in , as among the first to recognize that an individual can choose to apply various problem-solving skills and strategies in problematic social situations.

Dodge, K. Social competence in. Dodge et al. Gresham, F. Dimensions of social competence: Method factors in the. Journal of School Psychology, 25 , In , Gresham identified three subdomains of social competence: adaptive behavior, social skills, and peer acceptance, the last of which is an outcome of socially competent behavior. Hughes, J. Professional School Psychology, 2 4 , Cognitive and behavioral skills used in social situations. Kennedy, J.

Issues in the identification of socially incompetent children. He also claims that, while children with self-control skill and performance deficits due to emotional arousal factors such as anxiety are most often targeted for social skills intervention, children with self-control skill or performance deficits due to impulsivity may have a higher risk of negative outcomes. Social life as a goal-coordination task. Ames and R.

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Ames Eds. In this chapter on the importance of goals in social interactions, Dodge and his colleagues discuss social competence.

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Even with this increased interest in social competence, there was little agreement about the conceptualization or the measurement of the construct. Should researchers look at specific behaviors or underlying abilities? Was social competence a trait or a series of acquired skills? Dodge criticized this definition as giving no reference to the appropriateness of the goals. This began research efforts to examine how people say they would react to specific social situations and what social knowledge is involved in the performance of social tasks.

Rubin, K. Interpersonal problem solving and social competence.

New York: Plenum Press, The three main properties of social behavior are its goal orientation, the employment of appropriate and acceptable strategies, and successful and effective outcomes. Spivack and Shure conceived of this construct as sensitivity to interpersonal problems and the ability to a generate alternative solutions to these problems, b consider step-by-step means to achieve social goals, c articulate consequences of social acts for oneself and others and generate alternative consequences to acts before deciding on a behavior, and d identify and understand the motives and behaviors of others.

These last three components require advanced perspective-taking skills. The steps in this model are a selecting the social goal, b examining the task environment, c accessing and selecting strategies, d implementing a strategy, and e judging success or failure of the strategy outcome. Self-perceptions, attributions, and the affect of the individual influence this process. Results indicated a significant difference for the case manager's pre and post treatment ratings on the Antisocial Subscale of the Home and Community Social Behavior Scales; however, no significance was found for the Social Competence Subscale. A significant difference for the behavioral observations was also found. No significant differences were found for either of the subject measurements Social Skills Assessment—Adolescent or the Sociometric Scale , but both measurements did support improvements across time. The third study occurred at an inner-city after-school care program.