In continuing our updates on the AIM research outcomes, the next few posts from the research team will provide some findings on the impact of the AIM Buddy Project program. The goal of the research is to answer research questions like this one:
- Does participation in the AIM program increase indicators of interest, such as values in school, student self-ratings of social, emotional, and character-related attributes, and decrease instances of bullying?
The AIM research study involved the three following conditions: 1. Schools receiving the AIM program training and materials; 2. Schools receiving the Martha Speaks Reading Buddies Program training and materials; 3. Schools continuing their existing curricula “as-is”. Students from all three conditions were given a survey of questions to fill out before and after participating in the programs.
An encouraging outcome from the survey was that students participating in the AIM schools selected the value “to be a good person” more than any other value listed. This pattern was only found after participation in the program (at post-test), and not before (at pre-test), and not among students in the two other conditions.
Another encouraging finding was that among students in AIM schools with the highest program fidelity, there were significant increases in students’ self-ratings of empathy and tolerance. There were also significant increases in how 1st and 2nd graders’ perceived:
- humility (e.g., “I am willing to tell someone when I do something wrong.”)
- future-mindedness (e.g., “I think before I do things.”)
- classroom climate (e.g., “Students get along with each other.”)
Positive outcomes from our rich qualitative data collected before and after implementing the “So Funny I Forgot To Laugh” interactive comic showed an increase in how students understood the topics. The interactive comic’s focus on perspective taking and recognizing the feelings of characters in the comic likely resonated with the students, as well as the speech bubbles used so children could see what the characters were thinking and feeling.
Before engaging with comic and their buddy, 6% of student defined empathy as taking the perspective of others, yet after the interactive comic/buddy session, the number increased to 20%. After the session, many students described perspective taking with understanding, for example:
- “It means to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”
- “To really try and understand what [the characters] are going through.”
Ongoing analyses will continue to analyze the data to better understand which students, from which backgrounds, and from which classrooms were most affected by the program. The findings thus far are a positive indicator that AIM program has resonated with students!
Stay tuned for further analyses in upcoming posts!