‘Overwhelmingly Positive’

A Singaporean delegation visits USC for further discussion and plans for more training on Daphna Oyserman’s School-to-Jobs program.
ByPamela J. Johnson

After implementing Daphna Oyserman’s School-to-Jobs (STJ) intervention program in its school systems, a delegation from Singapore has visited USC to meet with Oyserman about follow up.

Oyserman, Dean’s Professor of Psychology and co-director of the Mind and Society Center at USC Dornsife, spent time in Singapore this past summer, consulting with the nation-state as it prepared to provide STJ nationally.

“All of the evidence we have collected so far has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Charles Tan, manager of Children, Youth and Family Service Planning and Development at the National Council of Social Service in Singapore. “Ranging from the students, their parents, social workers and teachers participating in STJ.”

Tan organized a brief meeting with a proposed continuation of training and planning for process and outcome evaluation in Singapore during 2015.

For the Jan. 21 and 22visit, Tan wanted to ensure that the full spectrum of Singaporean leaders relevant to youth school-success and well-being would be together. The group was comprised of the Minister of State and other decision-makers in the Ministry of Education, the director of the Central Youth Guidance Office, Ministry of Social and Family Development, officials from the Ministry of Social and Family Development, deputy public prosecutors from the Attorney General’s chamber, representatives from the Singaporean police and from public service sectors. 

“We are now measuring which parts work best and building a strong evaluation system so we can move forward with the program,” said Tan, during a luncheon and informal meeting with Oyserman and the delegation held at the USC University Club.

STJ is based on Oyserman’s identity-based motivation research. In her research, Oyserman found that youths do better in school when they can picture their future selves as connected to the present, envision strategies to help them get there, and interpret experienced difficulty as importance, not impossibility.

STJ is a set of activities that are provided twice weekly in school for a total of 12 sessions, which end prior to the end of the first marking period. Each session involves a different activity so that students create projects and can then see that their efforts are part of the group norm.

The activities are structured so that role of the trainer (teacher or social worker) is not to lecture but rather to guide students. Funding for development and testing of STJ came from the W. T. Grant Foundation and the U.S. National Institutes of Health and now the U.S. Department of Education.

The studies on which STJ is based were conducted in various countries. Oyserman’s book to be released Feb. 17 by Oxford University Press, Pathways to Success Through Identity-Based Motivation provides the theory, evidence and training manual, and shows how to translate the intervention to various settings, age groups and cultures.

“It was a pleasure to host the Singaporean Minister of Education and the whole delegation,” said Oyserman, who has joint appointments at the USC Rossier School of Education and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

“A coordinated continuum of caring, starting with the Ministry of Education, linking social and family services, guidance and rehabilitation services as well as police and prosecution at the state level is an important policy perspective for identity-based motivation theory.”