Evaluation of the VIRAJ Program

Evaluation of the STOP Program (published in 1995) (Now called the ViRAJ Program)

LAVOIE, F., VÉZINA, L., PICHÉ, C., & BOIVIN, M. (1995). Evaluation of a Prevention Program for Violence in Teen Dating Relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10(4), 517-525.

Methodology: Research was carried out to compare two different program formats for the STOP Program. A shorter version of the two workshops was compared to a longer version that included the two main workshops as well as supplementary activities. Five hundred and seventeen students participated in the evaluation; measurements were made to determine the impacts of the program on knowledge and attitudes. Average age of the students was 15 years.

Results: The shorter format produced changes in attitudes and knowledge for both boys and girls with regards to violence and abusive control in teen dating relationships. The aim of this research was also to determine the interest in expanding the time frame of the workshops and including a wider variety of activities. Therefore, the positive results favoring the shorter program must be interpreted carefully since the protocol did not allow for optimal presentation of supplementary activities. As a result, it is possible that supplementary activities delivered more intensively by qualified personnel might significantly enhance the overall experience of students. Nonetheless, it was concluded that the shorter format program comprised of two workshops did in fact lead to significant changes. Therefore, it may be retained as a program offered in schools.

Evaluation of the STOP Program (published in 1997)

LAVOIE, F., DUFORT, F., HÉBERT, M. AND VÉZINA, L. (1997). Evaluation of a prevention program for violence in teen dating relationships: An evaluation of the STOP Program using a quasi-experimental approach. (Évaluation d’un programme de prévention de la violence lors des fréquentations : une évaluation de VIRAJ selon une approche quasi expérimentale). Final Report submitted to the Conseil québécois de la recherche sociale, 208 pages. ISBN 2-9801676-3-0. Québec: Université Laval. Available from Quebec Directions de santé publique and university libraries. Subsidized by CQRS and FCAR (Quebec).

The initial evaluation showed that teens who participated in the STOP Program showed positive changes in attitudes and knowledge. However, the method used in the evaluation did not allow the authors to attribute the improvements that were measured solely to the program itself. This second evaluation therefore was carried out using a different sample.

Goals and Objectives Following the First Evaluation

The primary objective of this evaluative research was to assess the impact of the STOP PROGRAM with the use of questionnaires on 15-year-olds in the short and medium term, i.e., four months post-program and twelve months post-program. This second program evaluation therefore aimed to use a more rigorous evaluation procedure in which there was control for the effects of: how measures were assessed and how questionnaires were administered; as well as participant selection and past history or other events which could explain changes in attitudes and knowledge. The evaluation consisted of a quasi-experimental format using various comparison groups some of whom did not receive the treatment or were not given the pretest questionnaire. In total, 817 Quebec teens participated in this phase of the research.

The second objective was to gather information more directly via personal interviews using a sub-sample of 48 teens, some of whom had past experiences with violence, to determine concept retention levels six months post-program. At the same time this group also evaluated the impacts of the program.

The third objective was to determine if the program in its original format was suited to teens of varying cultural backgrounds. The level of satisfaction of students in a multiethnic school was sought regarding program format and content using questionnaires and through group discussions. Using the same methods, we also sought to compare the values embedded within the program to the values inherent in the students’ own cultural backgrounds. Three classes in a Montreal-area school participated in this assessment with 76 students responding to questionnaires.

Results: Research findings showed that the STOP Program in its original format of two workshops was in fact effective in the short and medium term; and revealed that changes were primarily attributable to the program itself and were not attributable to the use of questionnaires or to the influence of external events. The program impact was tested using several groups and no main effect of attrition negatively influenced the validity of the results. The chosen evaluation approach also allowed the researchers to ensure that the experimental groups and the comparison groups were as similar as possible and that the post-program differences between these groups could not be attributed to any prominent pre-program differences amongst the groups. Furthermore, a study performed at the inception of the program determined that there was good adherence to the format of planned activities; therefore the program evaluation was carried out on the program as it was conceived by the authors. While changes did take place in attitudes and knowledge, in terms of variables such as sense of control, perception of peer pressure or intention to take action, little or no change was apparent. The research revealed no evidence of negative impacts on the group as a whole, either in boys or girls, or in victims or aggressors. In general the opinions of the students were positive regardless of whether the students came from homogeneous francophone backgrounds or from the multiethnic school. This has led us to believe that the program was an enriching experience. In conclusion, the program in its present format was deemed effective. Nonetheless, there may still be room for improvement as it appears that more than just the current short-format version may be required to instill and maintain violence rejection behaviours in teens. It must also be noted that when topics were not directly addressed in the program, for example, the intention to offer help to victims, no behavioural changes occurred.

Conception et réalisation : Centre de services en TI et en pédagogie (CSTIP).
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