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About conflict

Kerry O’Donoghue

Conflict Program Critique

April 11th 2019

With technology usage at its highest in this generation, the program that I assessed was entirely online based. This program that I chose to critique is titled SMART Team, also referred to as SMART talk. In reference to this program, SMART is an acronym standing for “Students Managing Anger and Resolution Together”. SMART Team as a universal prevention intervention offers an abundance of resources, all of which are interactive and educational on violence prevention in conflict.

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These eight modules cover extensively the important topics of conflict resolution, perspective taking, and anger management. Also addressed with the intervention are decision making skills, mediation, role modeling, and social competency. Having the option to complete all modules, or instead focus on one problematic area, SMART Team presents this intervention through simulations, graphics, games, and interactive cartoons. After a three week trial period, this sixteen week intervention was implemented and targeted towards students ranging from fifth to ninth grade contrived of diverse socioeconomic populations. There was another pilot group that tested the program; a group of seventh graders from a city school that could work through the program in their computer lab for four weeks. As SMART Team is online based and can be easily accessed, it was designed to be administered in a typical school setting, teen center, or afterschool program.

The abstract and overview of this intervention provided a lot of useful information about the goals, rationale, and skills emphasized through SMART Team. According to this, the program was designed to increase students knowledge, self efficiency, and prosocial behavior and intentions. It also hopes to decrease individuals’ overall aggression. The instructional design of SMART Team applies theories such as the social learning theory and the skill acquisition model. They also emphasize that through navigating this program, individuals can acquire skills such as anger replacement theory, dispute resolution, and perspective taking. The evaluation then went into explaining each module of the program specifically.

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When the program is first opened, newcomers are introduced to the four virtual peer mediator characters that will follow you through completion, as returning users get the chance to start a new module or pick up where they left off. Individuals have the option to pick from one of the offered modules. Under the anger management modules, the offered selections are titled “What’s Anger?”, “Triggers and Fuses”, “Anger Busters”, and “Channel Surfin’”. Triggers and Fuses is a cognitive behavioral intervention that consists of an interactive interview followed by an assessment recognizing personal triggers. Another example would be the game Channel Surfin’ that touches on anger management in different settings and situations. In this, they are presented a situation and context, and the student selects a way to think, act, and proceed. Under the Dispute Resolutions module, there are two interactive interviews called “Talking it Out” and “Teen Talk”. Talking it out addressed conflict mediation, whereas Teen Talk gives students the opportunity to ask questions to four peer mediators. The final category is the perspective taking module. The perspective taking module consists of “Celebrity Interviews” and “What’s on THEIR Mind”. What’s on THEIR Mind is presented as a game show where they are presented with scenarios which they then need to choose what the other person is thinking and feeling. The other module working with this skill, Celebrity Interviews, is where these celebrities act as role models discussing how they manage stress and resolve conflicts in their life.

With the access link provided, I myself navigated around the “Learning Multi-Systems” website where the disks are for purchase and under the SMART Team page it showed the words “evidence based” and “proven effective”. These claims can be supported with the evaluation results in the write up. SMART Team “Significant effects were increased intentions to use nonviolent strategies and self-knowledge, and decreases in beliefs supportive of violence.”

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There is not much that needs to be added or changed to the SMART Team program. The only potential issues that this document discussed was that the program requires a certain recent and updated software and hardware to download. Though most schools are up to date and already have this technology for other purposes, if for some reason they did not, it would be an additional cost. The cost of this program is not extremely expensive but as buying options go, it can be bought for a single computer, or multi user accounts can also be purchased which would be more expensive. According to the write up, the third and most expensive option is to buy a network licence that allows for installation on single and multi user systems. This option totals to be $595. Though the results are favorable and proven efficient, the only other potential downfall or limitation of this intervention is that the evaluations are measured with self report which could present biases in responses.

This intervention is overall successful and should be implemented into more schools and communities. The program addresses many practical aspects and it is important to teach kids from a young age how to control anger management, the importance of perspective taking, and especially resolving conflict while avoiding violence. SMART team is universal and easily accessible because it is online based. Another advantage to it being online based is the students are more likely to participate in the virtual interactions as the lessons are disguised with games, cartoons, and simulations. The program is seemingly easy to learn and administer and as it is online based, results and progress can be easily tracked and stored. This approach is also consistent for all participants in that there is not different people administering the lessons; with this, it can be replicated with ease. With it’s simplicity, once SMART Team is introduced to students, they do not need much guidance and can independently work through the program. The intervention can be completed in its entirety, and at the students own pace, and it is made easy for students to revisit certain modules. The results and feedback that individuals receive is personal to them and their choices throughout. This software provides students the relevant and engaging opportunity to replicate real life situations that they might find themselves in.

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