Differential Effects of a Ninth-Grade Activity Friendship Group and a Ninth-Grade Talk Therapy Friendship Group on Connection to Peers, Adults, and Extracurricular Activities
AuthorLiles, Elisabeth Ellena
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The transition to high school presents numerous challenges to ninth grade students. Although many academic interventions have been implemented in attempting to ease this transition, research supports the importance of also addressing students' social needs. Friendships are an integral part of personal development. Particularly in adolescence, friendships assist individuals in forming a sense of self worth. In addition, adolescents use friendships to measure their behaviors and feelings in the context of society. Through relationships with others, adolescents modify their behavior in order to achieve acceptance and to meet social expectations. This study addresses the importance of social interventions through examining the use of activity therapy and talk therapy friendship groups with ninth grade students. During freshman orientation, 438 students completed a survey that assessed their desire for social connection to peers, adults, and extracurricular activities. Of these students, 10 participated in friendship groups for 9 weeks. The treatment group (N = 5) received 50 minutes of activity therapy once a week, and the comparison group (N = 5) received 50 minutes of talk therapy once a week. During the first and last weeks of the study, students in both groups completed the Mehrabian Affiliative Tendency Scale (MAFF) and the Mehrabian Sensitivity to Rejection Scale (MSR). The Wilcoxon Matched-Pairs Signed-Ranks Test and Mann-Whitney U Test were conducted, and no significance was found in comparing the within and between group measures. The study also explored the use of friendship groups using a qualitative analysis, including interviews, observations, and artifacts. Two students who did not participate in the friendship groups served as a small control group and were included in interviews. All students in both friendship groups presented data that supported the construction of the theme of trust as related to self-expression and respect. The students in the activity therapy group also provided data supporting the theme of cooperation. Results from the qualitative measures provided support for the potential use of friendship groups as a social intervention for assisting ninth grade students as they transition to high school.