LUM Research – After School Mentoring Program
As a part of her Purdue internship, Jasmine Hsu observed the LUM After School Program students’ behavior over the course of three months to assess their social skills. Jasmine was curious to see how the pandemic and increased use of technology impacted students. Her objective was to develop practical mitigation strategies.
During the fall semester, Jasmine spent 40+ hours observing and interacting with children in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade sections of the LUM After School Program. She concluded that a mentoring program for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Even after just a short time, the new mentoring program showed positive connections developing and potentially shaping the children’s social development. Jasmine demonstrated that by providing caring mentors and creating a safe space for social skill development, students will gain the tools they need to build strong relationships, communicate effectively, and navigate social challenges.
This qualitative data will help shape and improve the LUM After School Program. This is one recent example of how LUM is using data to improve lives.
Among the early hypotheses that Jasmine wanted to test was that the combination of pandemic-related social isolation and increased reliance on digital technology have led to a decrease in social learning, particularly among those age 12 and under. During the lockdown, children lost a critical amount of time that is formative in social development, and our digital culture of instant gratification has led to important skills, like patience, not being adequately exercised.
Jasmine was curious to see how such issues played out in reality and was eager to develop practical mitigation strategies. During the fall semester, she spent 40+ hours observing and interacting with children in the third to fifth grade section of the After School Program.
Through this process, Jasmine was able to observe palpable differences between children who had a healthy family life and those who did not. For example, female children with close relationships with their fathers performed much better in school and were able to regulate their emotions with more control than female children without close ties with their fathers. Also, the more crowded a child’s family (with siblings, step-siblings and step-parents), the more likely they were to act out and crave attention.
Jasmine realized that while the effects of the pandemic and technology certainly play major roles in shaping a child’s social skills, a child’s family is the most critical component in dictating emotional and behavioral tendencies. This realization was backed up by the work of Paul Tough in his book, How Children Succeed, which posits that family is the biggest influence on child success and development, citing stress (family trauma, lack of parental support, etc.) as the most harmful factor, even above poverty. Tough also argues that the primary indicators of future success aren’t cognitive abilities, like IQ and grades, but non-cognitive abilities like resilience, self-control, and curiosity.
This conclusion led Jasmine to the second phase of her internship: finding mitigation strategies.
While there was obviously nothing Jasmine could do to affect each child’s family dynamics, she could create a mentorship program – pairing Purdue students with children from the After School Program to act as healthy role models and help improve their non-cognitive social skills. The mentors would meet weekly with their assigned child for an hour. The first 30 minutes would be Sharing Time, an opportunity for the child to tell their mentor about their day and receive healthy feedback and attention. This would be followed by 30 minutes of Activity Time, which would consist of an interactive activity focused on improving a non-cognitive skill.
Jasmine worked with members of the Community Youth Care Club at Purdue to find mentors, and with Kristi Hogue and Bre Stewart from the After School Program to identify children who would benefit the most from mentoring. They paired each child with a mentor, and officially launched the program at the start of April.
How LUM Uses Data to Improve Lives
As an organization committed to making a meaningful impact in the lives of individuals and our community, LUM has recognized the pivotal role that research plays in driving positive change. LUM firmly believes that evidence-based strategies and data-driven decision-making are essential to creating lasting improvements. Through our dedication to research, we are continuously evolving and refining the programs, ensuring that LUM makes a genuine difference in the lives of those we serve. Here are a few examples of research projects within LUM programs:
- LITERACY – LUM 5th Quarter Summer Learning Program
- EMPATHY – LUM Financial Assistance Program
- MENTORING – LUM After School Program
- HOPE – LUM Emergency Shelter
At Lafayette Urban Ministry, we firmly believe that research is not just a means to an end but an integral part of our journey towards lasting change. It fuels our passion, drives our decisions, and shapes our impact. LUM strives to ensure that every effort we make is purposeful, effective, and capable of creating a ripple effect of positive change. As we move forward, our dedication to research will remain unwavering, empowering us to transform lives and build a brighter future for our entire community.