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PSY2007 Critical Review of a Social Services Program


PSY20007 Sem 1, 2020

Assignment 1: Critical Review of a Social Services Program for Children, Adolescents and/or Families

This is the first of TWO written assignments for this unit.

The purpose of this critical review is to develop your skills in research, evaluation and presentation of ideas. You are to draw from current peer-reviewed research and other suitable sources (e.g., books, government reports) and present written material in APA format.

This assignment has two parts:

  1. A 1000 word critical review of the effectiveness of programs of this type (not necessarily your program specifically) and identification of the factors that influence the program’s effectiveness. This is worth 20% of your final mark.
  2. A 10-minute presentation to a small group of fellow students on your program and what you have found. You are expected to present during Week 5. This is worth 5% of your final mark. Please note that is a hurdle requirement for the unit and is assessed on satisfactory or unsatisfactory basis.

1.  The Critical Review

You are required to identify and critically review a social service program that is psychologically based and directed toward improving the quality of life for children, adolescents and/or families. You may choose a program running in your own local area or a program that operates anywhere in Australia. Examples of programs that have been evaluated by students in the past are:

  • 1-2-3 Magic & Emotion Coaching – for parents to learn behavioural management of their difficult children.
    • Big Brothers/Big Sisters – a mentoring program for adolescents deemed as vulnerable.
    • DAYS – a program for youth at risk of alcohol or drug abuse.
    • Triple P Stepping Stones – for parents with children who have a disability.
    • Young Parents Program – for young teenage mothers.

The opening paragraph of your review should describe the program you are reviewing based on information publicly available in resources such as brochures or information on websites. You are not to approach staff of such programs for more information. Having numerous psychology students directly approaching staff would prove burdensome for people running such programs.

In undertaking this review, you will be required to use library resources such as PSYCINFO or other types of library databases to locate relevant scholarly references from books or journal articles. You are not to rely on populist articles about programs in newspapers or magazines for your reference material. These sources of information, however, may alert you about programs you might like to evaluate. You will then need to more formally seek out information. You are not required to do an exhaustive literature review, but rather to locate 4-7 relevant references (peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters etc). For those who do find it difficult to conduct searches using electronic databases, please go to articles/ on the library website for some more information.

You need to evaluate the past literature on programs of the kind you have chosen. You need to critically analyse the material and provide a rationale for your claims. You will need to search more generally as you are unlikely to find information exactly linked to the program you review. We want you to do the review rather than paraphrase someone else’s review. Questions you might like to consider:

  • Have researchers demonstrated using relevant theory and empirical evidence what makes these types of program work?
    • Have important factors in the program’s success been identified or not?
    • If you were designing such a program, based on relevant theory and empirical evidence, what would you include?
    • Have studies been done to carefully establish what factors make these programs more or less successful? (Note: you can suggest points in your review if this has not been done or include what sorts of studies need to be done to establish what the important factors are. Remember you are meant to be operating as scientists/ practitioners.)

An example of the type of report you are expected to submit will be provided on CANVAS. However, it is on a topic that is not specifically directed at improving the functioning of children, adolescents and/or family life. Instead this example review is on a program to help problem gamblers control their behaviours, whereas your report must be child, adolescent and/or family focused.

2.  Small Group Presentation

In Week 5 you will be required to present verbally to a small group of 4 to 5 students a description of the program you focused on and what you have found out from your critical review about the effectiveness of such programs and factors that can affect its success or failure.

Although not part of your formal write-up, in this informal presentation and discussion about the program, both you and fellow students might like to consider whether you think the current Australian program will be effective or not, given what is presented

about such programs in the literature. Sometimes it may be that you do not have enough detailed information about the current program to know this, but in your presentation try to examine this issue as best you can.

Each person should aim to talk and lead a discussion about the program they reviewed for 10 minutes depending on group size.

Note: Since the presentation is a hurdle requirement, attendance will be recorded in each presentation group. This aspect is designed to give you practice at speaking to a small group, in a relatively non-threatening situation. Please support your fellow students in doing this.

Submission Requirements:

  • Student Presentations to be conducted in Week 5 tutorials
    • Critical Review Report due on Sunday, April 5th.

We hope you all enjoy this task and gain a real insight on how psychological knowledge can be applied to design programs to improve the quality of life of children and families.