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Singapore moving forward with School-to-Jobs program developed at USC

Reaction has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’ for a delegation that discusses the program during a two-day campus visit

After implementing a School-to-Jobs intervention program in its educational systems, a delegation from Singapore visited USC to follow up with the professor who oversaw it.

Daphna Oyserman, Dean’s Professor of Psychology and co-director of the Mind and Society Center at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, spent time in Singapore over the summer, consulting with the nation-state as it prepared to offer the program on a national scale.

“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.

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

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

We are now measuring which parts work best and building a strong evaluation system.

Charles Tan

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



Identity-based research

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

School-to-Jobs is a set of activities 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 then can 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 School-to-Jobs 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 School-to-Jobs is based were conducted in various countries. Press, Pathways to Success Through Identity-Based Motivation, the Oyserman book to be released Feb. 17 by Oxford University, 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.”

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