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Social learning in context: group homies, mentorship, and social support

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Social learning theory has enjoyed decades of supportive research and has been applied to a wide range of criminal and deviant behavior. Still eluding criminological theorists, however, is a meaningful understanding of the causal processes underlying social learning. This lack

Social learning theory has enjoyed decades of supportive research and has been applied to a wide range of criminal and deviant behavior. Still eluding criminological theorists, however, is a meaningful understanding of the causal processes underlying social learning. This lack of knowledge is due in part to a relative reluctance to examine value transmission as a process in the contexts of mentorship, role modeling, and social learning. With this empirical gap in mind, the present study seeks to isolate and classify meaningful themes in mentorship through loosely structured interviews with young men on the periphery of the criminal processing system. The purposive sample is drawn from youth in a Southwestern state, living in a state-funded, privately run group home for children of unfit, incarcerated, or deported/undocumented parents. The youth included in the study have recently passed the age of eighteen, and have elected to stay in the group home on a voluntary basis pending the completion of a High School diploma. Further, both the subjects and the researcher participate in a program which imparts mentorship through art projects, free expression, and ongoing, semi-structured exposure to prosocial adults. This study therefore provides a unique opportunity to explore qualitatively social learning concepts through the eyes of troubled youth, and to generate new lines of theory to facilitate the empirical testing of social learning as a process. Implications for future research are discussed.

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2012

Identity formation among lesbians: reviewing Cass' theory twenty years later with an emphasis on media influences

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The current study sought to reevaluate Cass' Theory of sexual identity formation in terms of lesbian identity development over the past twenty years and how media acts as mediation in lesbian identity development. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with only

The current study sought to reevaluate Cass' Theory of sexual identity formation in terms of lesbian identity development over the past twenty years and how media acts as mediation in lesbian identity development. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with only nine useable transcripts analyzed for this thesis. This study is an explanatory investigation into linear stage theory, specifically Cass' theory, as well as the impact of media as a mediator during lesbian identity development. This study had three objectives 1) to gain an understanding of the theory and its components related to lesbian identity development 2) to understand the lesbian identity formation process and 3) to understand the impact and influence if any, media has had on lesbian self-reported identity development. Qualitative methods were used to obtain information and analyze the responses. Results indicate that the participants in this study believed that the coming out process was important. This study's results showed that several of the participants entered each stage of the theory, while others did not. Media had little influence on the identity development, and the participants had mixed reviews of medias portrayal of lesbians. Implications for practice and further research are discussed.

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2011

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Understanding Staff Influence on the Ecological Group Home Environment

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In response to the need to accurately define group home types, this dissertation focused on providing a clear and distinct definition of the types of group home care, an articulated understanding of the role of group home staff, and an

In response to the need to accurately define group home types, this dissertation focused on providing a clear and distinct definition of the types of group home care, an articulated understanding of the role of group home staff, and an awareness of the impact individuals working in group homes have on the lives of the youth they serve and their influence on the group home environment. Using the qualitative research method Grounded Theory, ten in-depth interviews were conducted with staff who both currently work in group homes, and staff who have left the group home environment. The research question was “What is the influence of group home staff on the ecological environment of the group home?” Ecological framework was the overarching theory, and participants were asked questions regarding their relationships with youth and their impressions of staff impact within the group home. Data analysis influenced by Grounded Theory produced 5 themes: Walking into the unknown, in loco parentis with two sub- themes consanguinity and group home as a home, engagement with two sub- themes of staff/staff engagement and staff/youth engagement, staff impact on youth, with three sub-themes, managing transitions, loss and boundaries, and the final theme of supervisor support. The results indicate that staff do have an impact on the group home, both positive and negative. Also, the group home operates as an intricate ecological environment containing relationships and interactions that influence multiple internal systems. Currently there is a gap in the literature as it relates to clarity within definition of care settings. This dissertation provided a clear definition for the chosen research environment, non-locked, non-therapeutic group home. The results of this dissertation have implications for group home agencies and more broadly child welfare agencies and child welfare social workers in regard to hiring practices, training and supervision. This dissertation provides a springboard for a future research on the ecological group home environment and the people who work there and are responsible for the care of vulnerable children.

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2018