TOWARD A MORE COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO PROGRAM IMPACT EVALUATION: SOME SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF THE JOB CORPS

CAROL MCMURTRY NELSON, Fordham University

Abstract

The dissertation was undertaken in response to a three-part problem, which was seen as limiting the comprehensiveness of the conventional approach to program impact evaluation. First, the usual approach emphasizes primary impacts and relatively ignores secondary impacts. Second, it emphasizes those secondary impacts which are economic and ignores those which are non-economic. Third, it emphasizes the discovery of impacts and relatively neglects the explanation of impacts.^ For purposes of addressing this perceived problem, a case study approach was adopted. The search for an appropriate data base yielded a survey of Job Corps applicants conducted in 1975-1977 by Abt Associates, Inc., under contract to the U.S. Department of Labor. A secondary analysis of the survey data was performed, in which the focus was on some social-psychological effects of participation in the Job Corps. The study thus emphasized some non-economic and secondary program impacts. Causal models were formulated and tested using multivariate methods, as a means of attempting to explain the social-psychological impacts found.^ The two principal models tested were the "employment success model," which posits that Job Corps participation leads to employment success, which in turn has positive social-psychological impacts; and the "educational success model," which posits that Job Corps participation leads to educational success, which then has positive social-psychological impacts. Social-psychological impacts were defined as program-produced changes in social attitudes and values. The attitudes and values selected to represent the Job Corps' social-psychological impacts were self-esteem, personal efficacy, attitudes toward authority, and the work ethic.^ The data analysis did not provide support for the employment success model. It did, however, provide support for the educational success model. Among the conclusions reached, therefore, was that the Job Corps is more effective as an attitude- and value-changing program than as a jobs program, and that the educational effectiveness (but not the employment effectiveness) of the program is important to its social-psychological function. One implication drawn from these findings is that the principal function of the Job Corps might be the resocialization or social control of disadvantaged youth. ^

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

NELSON, CAROL MCMURTRY, "TOWARD A MORE COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO PROGRAM IMPACT EVALUATION: SOME SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF THE JOB CORPS" (1984). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8506348.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8506348

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