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Intervention Summary

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Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Peer Training Program

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Peer Training Program is an antibias and diversity training program intended for use in middle and high schools. The program prepares select students to be peer trainers. These students are trained to use the positive power of peer influence to motivate others to reflect on their stereotypes and assumptions and take action against intergroup prejudice, bigotry, and harassment in their school and community.

The diverse group of peer trainers is composed of students selected from various subgroups within the school's social network (i.e., students involved in an organized activity, such as athletics, music, student government, or a club, and students not involved in an organized activity). These students participate in a 3-day interactive training, which is delivered by ADL trainers who have expertise in antibias, diversity, and multicultural education. The purpose of the training is to increase the peer trainers' understanding and awareness of bias and discrimination; teach the peer trainers how to effectively respond to prejudice and discrimination; and help the peer trainers develop critical thinking skills, empathy for others, and a sense of social responsibility. Peer trainers also learn facilitation skills in anticipation of conducting workshops to help their peers understand and address bias and discrimination.

After the training, peer trainers meet weekly with a school-based peer training coordinator. Using the program curriculum, they continue to learn about bias and discrimination and practice skills for responding to bias-related incidents and facilitating workshops. Once peer trainers have gained the necessary knowledge and skills, they facilitate workshops in their schools with students and other members of the school community. They also model antiprejudice and antiharassment behavior, such as verbal condemnation of prejudice and confrontation of harassers, and intervene when they witness prejudiced behavior or speech among their peers.

In the study reviewed for this summary, the program was implemented in high schools.

Descriptive Information

Areas of Interest Mental health promotion
Outcomes Review Date: May 2012
1: Awareness of prejudice and harassment
2: Attitudes toward prejudice and harassment
3: Antiprejudice behavior
Outcome Categories Family/relationships
Social functioning
Ages 13-17 (Adolescent)
Genders Male
Female
Races/Ethnicities Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino
White
Race/ethnicity unspecified
Settings School
Geographic Locations Urban
Suburban
Implementation History Since its launch in 1991 in response to the riots in Crown Heights, New York, the ADL Peer Training Program has been implemented in more than 600 schools in 23 States and the District of Columbia, as well as in 20 countries in Europe. The ADL Peer Training Program has reached more than 48,000 middle and high school students.
NIH Funding/CER Studies Partially/fully funded by National Institutes of Health: No
Evaluated in comparative effectiveness research studies: No
Adaptations No population- or culture-specific adaptations of the intervention were identified by the developer.
Adverse Effects No adverse effects, concerns, or unintended consequences were identified by the developer.
IOM Prevention Categories Universal

Quality of Research
Review Date: May 2012

Documents Reviewed

The documents below were reviewed for Quality of Research. The research point of contact can provide information regarding the studies reviewed and the availability of additional materials, including those from more recent studies that may have been conducted.

Study 1

Paluck, E. L. (2011). Peer pressure against prejudice: A high school field experiment examining social network change. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(2), 350-358.

Supplementary Materials

A World of Difference Institute Peer Training Program: Year-End Program Assessment

Outcomes

Outcome 1: Awareness of prejudice and harassment
Description of Measures Awareness of prejudice and harassment was assessed using a phone-based outcome survey developed for the study. The survey measured awareness of and attitudes toward intergroup prejudice and harassment; attitudes toward outgroups and political and systemic discrimination and prejudice; and self-reported, peer-reported, and observed antiprejudice behavior. The peer trainers and the peer trainers' close friends and peers responded to a question regarding when they last overheard teasing or insults about another student's weight.
Key Findings A study was conducted with students from eight high schools participating in the ADL Peer Training Program. Each school was paired with its closest match in the sample on the basis of publicly available data: the number of students per teacher, the percentage of students receiving reduced lunch at the school, and the ethnic and racial composition of the school. One school in each pair was randomly assigned to the treatment condition, in which the program began in the fall, and the other was assigned to the control condition, in which the program began in the spring. Students from each school were recruited to be peer trainers and were informed that the program would start in either the fall or the spring. Also, they were asked to provide the names of two students they considered close friends and eight students they considered peers (described as "classmates, acquaintances you talk with in the hallway, people who are in your homeroom"). The outcome was assessed after peer trainers in treatment schools had experienced 5 months of training but before the peer trainers in control schools (referred to here as "prospective peer trainers") started training.

Compared with prospective peer trainers, peer trainers had a higher awareness of prejudice and harassment: 73% of peer trainers and 42% of prospective peer trainers reported overhearing teasing or insults about another student's weight in their school during the past week (p < .05). There was no significant difference in awareness between the peer trainers' close friends or peers in treatment schools and those in control schools.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.5 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 2: Attitudes toward prejudice and harassment
Description of Measures Attitudes toward prejudice and harassment were assessed using a phone-based outcome survey developed for the study. The survey measured awareness of and attitudes toward intergroup prejudice and harassment; attitudes toward outgroups and political and systemic discrimination and prejudice; and self-reported, peer-reported, and observed antiprejudice behavior. The peer trainers and the peer trainers' close friends and peers responded to items regarding three types of attitudes:

  • Attitudes about intervening. Participants responded to an open-ended question regarding whether they thought that students should intervene if they overheard a person being teased or insulted about his or her weight and whether they thought intervening would be effective.
  • Attitudes about structural issues of prejudice and democratic principles. Using a scale ranging from 0 (disagree strongly) to 3 (agree strongly), participants rated their agreement with three statements. Two statements were in regard to prejudice and democratic principles: "I believe in free speech for everybody, no matter what his or her views might be" and "Society shouldn't have to put up with people who have political ideas that are extremely different than the majority" (reverse coded). The third statement addressed the peer training's emphasis on societal prejudice: "U.S. society prevents people of color from getting their fair share of the good things in life, such as better jobs and more money."
  • Attitudes related to social distance from stigmatized groups. Using a scale ranging from 0 (disagree strongly) to 3 (agree strongly), participants rated their agreement with three statements: "If a person of a different religion were put in charge of me, I would not mind taking advice and direction from him or her," "I would probably feel a little self-conscious dancing with a person of another race in a public place," and "I wouldn't want to be around a teenager who was gay" (reverse coded).
Key Findings A study was conducted with students from eight high schools participating in the ADL Peer Training Program. Each school was paired with its closest match in the sample on the basis of publicly available data: the number of students per teacher, the percentage of students receiving reduced lunch at the school, and the ethnic and racial composition of the school. One school in each pair was randomly assigned to the treatment condition, in which the program began in the fall, and the other was assigned to the control condition, in which the program began in the spring. Students from each school were recruited to be peer trainers and were informed that the program would start in either the fall or the spring. Also, they were asked to provide the names of two students they considered close friends and eight students they considered peers (described as "classmates, acquaintances you talk with in the hallway, people who are in your homeroom"). The outcome was assessed after peer trainers in treatment schools had experienced 5 months of training but before the peer trainers in control schools (referred to here as "prospective peer trainers") started training.

Results from the survey indicated the following in regard to the peer trainers:

  • Although agreement was high in both study conditions, the percentage of peer trainers who agreed that students should confront harassers was higher than that of prospective peer trainers (92% vs. 85%; p < .05). Prospective peer trainers offered less elaborate rationales for interpersonal confrontation than peer trainers: the percentage of peer trainers who stated that one should intervene because prejudice and harassment are wrong, without further explanation, was lower than that of prospective peer trainers (11% vs. 29%; p < .05); however, the percentage of peer trainers who responded that students should intervene out of responsibility to others or out of empathy or sympathy was higher than that of prospective peer trainers (54% vs. 45%; p < .05). In addition, peer trainers described this responsibility in terms of protecting school culture (e.g., "If you step in to stop teasers, this sets the tone for your school") and in terms of the power of peer influence (e.g., "You should step in because students listen to other students"). They also cited empathy or sympathy ("I'd feel so badly for the person"). Although 70% of all peer trainers and prospective peer trainers thought that standing up for the targets of harassment could be effective, the percentage of peer trainers who pointed out that harassment was inevitable and that intervention would not work in the long run was lower than that of prospective peer trainers (18% vs. 28%; p < .05).
  • Agreement with "free speech for everybody, no matter what his or her views might be" was high for both peer trainers and prospective peer trainers. However, the percentage of peer trainers who agreed strongly with this statement was lower than that of prospective peer trainers (50% vs. 85%; p < .05).
  • Tolerance of extreme political viewpoints did not differ significantly between peer trainers and prospective peer trainers. However, more peer trainers than prospective peer trainers agreed that structural discrimination exists (p < .05); the modal response of peer trainers was "somewhat agree," whereas the response by prospective peer trainers was "somewhat disagree."
  • With respect to attitudes related to social distance from stigmatized groups, more peer trainers than prospective peer trainers stated that they would not mind it if someone of a different religion were put in charge of them (p < .05). However, there were no significant differences between peer trainers and prospective peer trainers in their responses regarding their comfort with a teen of a different race or a teen who is gay.
Results from the survey also indicated that structural discrimination was acknowledged by more close friends in treatment schools than in control schools (p < .05), and more close friends in treatment schools than in control schools stated that they would not mind it if someone of a different religion were put in charge of them (p < .05); none of the other findings were significantly different between close friends in treatment and control schools. Also, there were no significant differences between the findings for peers in treatment and control schools.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.6 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 3: Antiprejudice behavior
Description of Measures Antiprejudice behavior was assessed using a phone-based outcome survey developed for the study. The survey measured awareness of and attitudes toward intergroup prejudice and harassment; attitudes toward outgroups and political and systemic discrimination and prejudice; and self-reported, peer-reported, and observed antiprejudice behavior. The peer trainers and the peer trainers' close friends and peers responded to three categories of items:

  • Self-report. Using a 4-point scale ranging from "very often" to "never," participants indicated how often they talked with their friends about the topics of discrimination, prejudice, and bias. Using a 4-point scale ranging from "extremely uncomfortable" to "extremely comfortable," participants rated how comfortable they felt talking with people about discrimination, prejudice, and bias.
  • Independent peer reports. Participants imagined that they were in a situation at their school where one student was being teased or insulted about anything, not just their weight. Participants then nominated up to four people they knew at their school (including themselves) who would be most likely to stand up for that student, maybe in front of the group or maybe later on, by confronting the person who was doing the teasing. Each participant received a point if another participant nominated him or her, such that all participants received a nomination score ranging from 0 to n - 1, with n being the total number of students interviewed at their school. (Self-nominations did not count toward the nomination score.)
  • Observation. Participants indicated whether they would be willing to post their full name on either, both, or neither of two student-created Internet petitions. One petition called for fair and equal treatment of gays and lesbians in U.S. society. The other petition called for better treatment of the environment by U.S. companies. Posting one's name to the gay rights petition represented a public defense of a stigmatized group, which was an important message of the ADL Peer Training Program. Posting one's name to the environmental petition allowed students to behave in a socially desirable way while avoiding the request for public support of a stigmatized group.
Key Findings A study was conducted with students from eight high schools participating in the ADL Peer Training Program. Each school was paired with its closest match in the sample on the basis of publicly available data: the number of students per teacher, the percentage of students receiving reduced lunch at the school, and the ethnic and racial composition of the school. One school in each pair was randomly assigned to the treatment condition, in which the program began in the fall, and the other was assigned to the control condition, in which the program began in the spring. Students from each school were recruited to be peer trainers and were informed that the program would start in either the fall or the spring. Also, they were asked to provide the names of two students they considered close friends and eight students they considered peers (described as "classmates, acquaintances you talk with in the hallway, people who are in your homeroom"). The outcome was assessed after peer trainers in treatment schools had experienced 5 months of training but before the peer trainers in control schools (referred to here as "prospective peer trainers") started training.

Results from the survey indicated the following:

  • Peer trainers reported talking about discrimination, prejudice, and bias with their friends--and feeling comfortable doing so--to a greater extent than that reported by prospective peer trainers (p < .05). However, there were no significant differences between self-reports from close friends or peers in treatment and control schools.
  • The percentage of peer trainers nominated as someone likely to stand up for students being teased or insulted was higher than that of prospective peer trainers (58% vs. 30%; p < .05). However, there were no significant differences between the nominations of close friends or peers in treatment and control schools.
  • Among secular schools, the percentage of participants willing to sign the gay rights petition was higher in treatment schools than in control schools (66% vs. 52%; p < .05); however, there was no statistical difference in support for the environmental petition. The percentage of peer trainers willing to sign the environmental petition was higher than that of prospective peer trainers (84% vs. 71%; p < .05). The percentage of close friends willing to sign the gay rights petition was higher in treatment schools than in control schools (73% vs. 56%; p < .04), and the percentage of peers willing to sign the gay rights petition was higher in treatment schools than in control schools (61% vs. 47%; p < .05). However, there were no significant differences in the signing of the environmental petition between close friends or peers in treatment and control schools.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.6 (0.0-4.0 scale)

Study Populations

The following populations were identified in the studies reviewed for Quality of Research.

Study Age Gender Race/Ethnicity
Study 1 13-17 (Adolescent) 54% Female
46% Male
66% White
11% Race/ethnicity unspecified
9% Hispanic or Latino
7% Black or African American

Quality of Research Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the Quality of Research for an intervention's reported results using six criteria:

  1. Reliability of measures
  2. Validity of measures
  3. Intervention fidelity
  4. Missing data and attrition
  5. Potential confounding variables
  6. Appropriateness of analysis

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Quality of Research.

Outcome Reliability
of Measures
Validity
of Measures
Fidelity Missing
Data/Attrition
Confounding
Variables
Data
Analysis
Overall
Rating
1: Awareness of prejudice and harassment 2.0 2.0 2.3 2.5 3.0 3.2 2.5
2: Attitudes toward prejudice and harassment 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.5 3.0 3.2 2.6
3: Antiprejudice behavior 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.5 3.0 3.2 2.6

Study Strengths

Efforts were made to ensure intervention fidelity, including providing 18 hours of training to peer trainers and using a standard curriculum manual, experienced trainers, and periodic "check-ins" between ADL trainers and peer training coordinators. Missing data were minimal, and attrition was not an issue because data used in outcome analyses were only collected at one time point (after students in the treatment condition were trained). A matched randomized wait-list control study design was used, and the most likely confounding variables were thoughtfully and persuasively addressed. The statistical analyses adequately addressed outcome measures and controlled for a number of variables.

Study Weaknesses

One outcome was measured by one item; although there is some evidence of this measure's reliability via an independent evaluator's coding of a random subsection, little information was provided regarding psychometric properties for the use of this measure. There is insufficient information regarding assessment of the program's implementation (e.g., no documentation of the use of an intervention fidelity instrument). There is limited information regarding potential communication between students in wait-list control schools and those in treatment schools. Demonstration of similarities among participants across all of the schools was not thorough. There were limited comparative data across some critical demographic factors.

Readiness for Dissemination
Review Date: May 2012

Materials Reviewed

The materials below were reviewed for Readiness for Dissemination. The implementation point of contact can provide information regarding implementation of the intervention and the availability of additional, updated, or new materials.

Anti-Defamation League. (2001). A World of Difference Institute: Manual for peer trainers. New York, NY: Author.

Anti-Defamation League. (2002). A World of Difference Institute: Manual for peer training coordinators. New York, NY: Author.

Let's Get Real [DVD]

Supplemental Materials ADL Peer Training Program:

  • A World of Difference Institute, Peer Training Manual: In Search of … Activity
  • Appendix A: Awareness and Attitude Shift Among Treatment Peer Trainers, but Not Friends and Peers
  • Appendix B: Behavior Shift Among Treatment Peer Trainers, Friends and Peers
  • Dialogues for the Summarizer
  • Dominoes
  • Let's Get Real Video and Discussion (Using One Person/Many Roles)
  • One-Day Agenda for Peer Training Coordinators
  • Participant Evaluation Questionnaire
  • Peer Training Certificate
  • Peer Training Manual Pursuit
  • Peer Training Program Agenda Day One
  • Peer Training Program: Carousel Brainstorming Activity
  • Peer Training Program Day Two
  • Peer Training Program Day Three
  • Peer Training Program Evaluation (Day One)
  • Peer Training Program Evaluation (Day Two)
  • Peer Training Program Final Evaluation
  • Personal Self-Assessment of Non-Discriminatory Behavior Checklist
  • Responding to Bigoted Words
  • Seed Planting
  • Silent Beats Video and Discussion (Using Concentric Circles)
  • Spontaneous Combustion
  • The Summarizer
  • Wants and Fears
  • Web of Yarn
  • Worst Nightmares & Other Challenges

Readiness for Dissemination Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the intervention's Readiness for Dissemination using three criteria:

  1. Availability of implementation materials
  2. Availability of training and support resources
  3. Availability of quality assurance procedures

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Readiness for Dissemination.

Implementation
Materials
Training and Support
Resources
Quality Assurance
Procedures
Overall
Rating
3.8 3.8 3.5 3.7

Dissemination Strengths

High-quality, detailed materials are available to guide implementation. Multiple plans for peer trainer presentations are available for tailoring the program workshops to various audiences. Training is required and conducted by ADL personnel at participating schools. The training includes in-person consultation to assist with site-specific challenges. In addition, ongoing support is available via phone or email throughout the implementation process. Evaluation tools and clear quality assurance feedback loops are provided to ensure adherence to the model, even in cases of site-specific program variations. Outcome data collected from individual sites are synthesized by ADL's national office and communicated to regional ADL staff to encourage quality improvement.

Dissemination Weaknesses

It is unclear how schools ensure that students who miss the training become peer trainers. Quality assurance materials depend heavily on self-report rather than observation. It is unclear how ongoing fidelity is monitored outside of the 2-year license renewal process.

Costs

The cost information below was provided by the developer. Although this cost information may have been updated by the developer since the time of review, it may not reflect the current costs or availability of items (including newly developed or discontinued items). The implementation point of contact can provide current information and discuss implementation requirements.

Item Description Cost Required by Developer
Peer Training Program package (includes 3-day, on-site training for peer trainers and 1 day, on-site training for peer training coordinators; all implementation materials; 10 hours of consultation; 2-year program license; and evaluation tools) $6,000 for up to 30 students, plus travel expenses Yes
1-day, on-site refresher training for students (includes renewal of 2-year program license) $1,800 plus travel expenses No
Renewal of 2-year program license (without refresher training) $1,000-$1,500, depending on location Yes
10 hours of in-person consultation provided over the course of the school year Included in the cost of the Peer Training Program package No
Technical assistance via phone or email Included in the cost of the Peer Training Program package No
Replications

No replications were identified by the developer.

Contact Information

To learn more about implementation, contact:
Lorraine Tiven
(212) 885-7802
ltiven@adl.org

To learn more about research, contact:
Elizabeth Levy Paluck, Ph.D.
(609) 258-9730
epaluck@princeton.edu

Consider these Questions to Ask (PDF, 54KB) as you explore the possible use of this intervention.

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