Social Competence and Academic Educational


Social Competence

Intervention Family

Academic-Educational Interventions

Social Competence and Academic Educational

Academic-educational interventions (PDF, 2 pages) aim to improve school performance, school engagement, and academically-oriented behavior. Interventions in this family are somewhat different from the other interventions in this report that more directly focus on youth social competence. Although not usually the primary focus, most academic and educational interventions in our evidence base involve social interactions and many include explicit social skills content. Such programs may, therefore, provide collateral benefits on social competence.

Academically-focused interventions can benefit social competence in multiple ways. Poor academic performance may lead to oppositional behavior, which affects social relationships, particularly with teachers. Success in school also can strengthen bonds with school, community, and family. In addition, some programs, such reciprocal peer tutoring, incorporate elements of interpersonal skill development alongside academic enhancement activities.

The recommendation highlights one effective intervention component of academic-educational programs that the evidence shows produced the best impacts on social competence. Academic-educational programs may also have positive effects on academic performance and school engagement, but the core components contributing to improving those outcomes were not analyzed in this project.

Select a different outcome or intervention family.

Characteristics of academic-educational interventions (15 studies contributed evidence):

  • Interventions lasted 37 weeks on average, or approximately one school year.
  • Sessions typically took place more than twice a week – often daily during the school week.
  • Most (60%) took place in a school setting during the school day, whether in the classroom or another room. The remaining were in community-based settings, including school-based aftercare (40%).
  • The interventions were delivered by specialist staff (33%), classroom teachers (20%), or other providers (47%).

Intervention examples

  • Classroom-based alternative curriculum: Students participated in a block of classes in a separate “alternative education building” with trained teachers. The alternative curriculum included three academic subjects and one class period for small group problem-solving sessions. Teachers were trained to use reality-oriented feedback and work with students to set individual contractual goals. Students attended regular school courses for the rest of the day.
  • Tutoring and skills training: High school students at risk for substance misuse participated in a comprehensive after-school program focused on academic tutoring and teaching specific skills. Students were provided a structured environment in which they were offered tutoring, problemsolving and respect skills training, and cultural identity exploration. Additionally, parents were offered training on skills they could use to better support their children.