Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Karl R. White


An analysis of previous reviews of the parent education literature revealed that few reviewers have incorporated sound methodological practice in their review process. Most reviewers included too few studies and ignored important information about the primary research studies that they reviewed. The Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) program has received less attention from reviewers than any of the other popular programs and information about its effectiveness is lacking.

Forty primary research studies, addressing the effectiveness of the STEP program, were located and analyzed using the meta-analytic method of review. Research questions for this study addressed the issues of effectiveness in terms of parent and child attitude change, behavioral change, psychological functioning, changes in self-esteem, changes in the family environment, and changes in parent/child interactions.

The variables that were coded and analyzed included the quality of the study, the publication source, socioeconomic status of the family, special parent characteristics (e.g., drug-addicted, abusive, Chicano, foreign), any children's handicaps (e.g . , learning disabled, Title I), type of group leader (professional or nonprofessional), type of tapes used (audiotape or videotape), design methodology, type of program participants (e.g., only mothers, couples, mixed parent groups), age of parents, education of parents, and age of child(ren). The dependent variables were coded and categorized into nine categories for parent measures and five categories for child measures . Effect sizes were computed for both immediate effects (immediately following treatment) and follow-up effects (after a designated elapsed time).

Moderate effect sizes were found which diminished with the passage of time. The STEP program was found to be more effective with couples than with mothers or with mixed parent groups. In addition, the program was found to be more effective with younger, less educated parents with younger children. Also, although representing only a few studies, it was found that exposure to the STEP program was associated with larger effect sizes for abusive and drug-addicted parents.

Regression analyses were conducted for selected dependent measures, and raw score prediction formulas were constructed using the age of parents, age of children, and education of parents as predictor variables. Suggestions are made for future research directions in the area of parent education and, specifically, changes in the STEP program that might add to its effectiveness.



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