More Than Conquerors Inc., is conducting a local evaluation of the Marriage Appreciation Training Uplifting Relationship Education (MATURE) Plus III project in the form of a cluster-level randomized control trial (RCT) that will compare student outcomes in grade 9 across three experimental conditions: (1) students who receive the REAL Essentials Advance curriculum and one-on-one case management, (2) students who only receive the REAL curriculum, and (3) students who receive a job and career advancement course. The study takes place in grade 9 health classes in one high school: Discovery High School in Gwinnett County, GA. Within two weeks before the start of the semester, the local evaluator wil use a random number generator in Excel to randomize classrooms into the three study groups. The school typically enrolls 14 grade 9 health classes per semester, resulting in 4 to 5 classrooms randomly assigned to each study group. To participate in the study, parental consent for the student must be obtained by the study team.
Two research questions in the local evaluation which are important to the community in its desire to explore a wholistic approach to fostering and supporting healthy interpersonal relationships and marriages will determine the ability of the intervention to achieve the outcomes. The project hopes to develop a program that leads Discovery High School youth to revere and honor interpersonal relationships, especially marriage, and seek non-violent methods to resolve problems through answering the following research questions:
RQ1: Is there a significant difference for attitudes about marriage, relationships and sex among Discovery High School treatment and control group youth?
RQ2: Is there a significant difference for attitudes about violence in relationships and marriages among Discovery High School treatment and control group youth?
The REAL curriculum will be delivered over one academic semester and consists of 13.5 hours of programming taught across 9 to 10 classes by a trained facilitator. The REAL curriculum consists of multiple modules that cover a variety of topics including communication skills, conflict resolution, marriage knowledge, and affection and intimacy. The curriculum is founded on Social Learning Theory through role-plays and activities that demonstrate how to resist unwanted peer and relational pressure to engage in unhealthy behaviors.
Students in the classrooms randomized to the curriculum plus case management group receive two 10-minute one-on-one meetings with their assigned case manager. The first meeting will take place within the first two to three weeks of the semester and the follow-up meetings will occur after all initial meetings are held which may be before the end of the semester for some students. At the first meeting, case managers provide targeted support on practicing specific conflict resolution skills and relationship enhancement skills, that are taught in the first sessions of the REAL course. The comparison group will receive standard job and career advancement training during the same semester.
Pretests (nFORM entrance surveys) are administered in class within two weeks after the start of the semester and posttests are administered during the last few weeks of the semester, after the curriculum training has been completed. A 12-month follow-up local evaluation survey will be administered to all participants as well, utilizing the Survey Monkey platform.
Data for the impact analysis will be collected via nFORM at two time points for all study participants: (1) at baseline, which will occur during the first few weeks of the semester (including the nFORM Applicant Characteristics and Entrance surveys); and (2) at program exit, which will be near the end of the semester, roughly three to four months after baseline. For follow-up, MTCI will administer a local evaluation survey consisting of select nFORM measures 9 months after program exit. All surveys will be administered via tablets or school issued personal devices, but will send the surveys via email if students are absent or no longer attending the school at follow-up. Students will receive a $10 gift card for completing the follow-up survey.