The United States of America is one of the world’s largest countries with the third biggest population; this country is also one of the most diverse in terms of population composition and the presence of different communities, cultures, and ethnicities. This mixture of different population groups works both as a powerful advantage of pushing the country forward as a pioneer of globalization and as a disadvantage causing internal clashes of versatile parts and segments of the population. As a result, some groups end up being more disadvantaged and depowered than others in many different aspects. This paper describes approaches encouraging the participation of a chosen disadvantaged group in marriage and relationship education programs based on their needs and scope of qualitative and quantitative research methods helping to evaluate the programs.
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The Disadvantaged Group of Choice
The group selected for this paper is the African-American population. The American Psychological Association (2017) reported that statistically, the African-American community is affected by a higher level of poverty and a lower level of education that makes it significantly disadvantaged compared to the other ethnic groups. According to the statistical data presenting the demographics in New Harbor High School, the African-American population is one of the largest communities; it comprises 33% of the entire student body. Also, as specified by the research conducted by Raley, Sweeney, and Wondra (2015), the marriage gap between the white and African-American populations in the United States has been rapidly increasing since the 1960s.
To be more precise, the rates of marriage are lower among African-Americans than among Hispanic and white people; in turn, the African-American community also demonstrates a higher rate of marital instability (Raley et al., 2015). Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013) noted that the African-American individuals with better education (college degrees and higher) were more likely to get married later in life but stay in the marriage for longer. All of these pieces of evidence make the African-Americans a community the best source of candidates for marriage and relationship education programs; in turn, these are the features making this community stand out and forming its common interests and needs related to marital stability (Yuen, Terao, & Schmidt, 2013).
How to Increase Participation of the Chosen Community in the Education Programs
To increase the participation of the African-American community of New Harbor High School in marriage and relationship education programs, it is important to ensure that the target population is well-informed about the program. For that purpose, seminars and awareness-raising events can be organized explaining the importance of such education programs and their potential outcomes. To convince the target audience, research information and practical evidence can be used confirming that the programs are helpful.
Also, the qualitative data about the elevated rates of marital instability can be demonstrated. For better clarity, visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and graphs can be used relying on descriptive statistics and qualitative characteristics of the impact marital instability can produce on the individuals and communities. This type of information can be found online on websites such as the Census and the Bureau of Statistics; moreover, this information can be gained from social academic research published within the last 5 to 6 years.
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods for the Program Evaluation
Evaluation research is required to assess the quality and effectiveness of the marriage and relationship education programs under discussion. As pointed out by Babbie (2016), whenever social intervention is planned, it is useful to employ evaluation research. In the present case, the social intervention is aimed at the improvement of marital statistics such as the length of the marriage, the rate of divorce, and the level of marital stability in the target group of the population – African Americans. The intervention is implemented with the help of marriage and relationship education programs launched in New Harbor High School. In particular, this kind of program can be recognized as an intervention affecting behavior. For the program assessment, data collection needs to be accomplished before and after the program is put into practice.
Namely, questionnaires can be used as the major instrument to assess the views of marriage and relationships among the high school students before they enter the program. This is a qualitative method allowing the researchers to learn the students’ attitudes and intentions related to the subject matter of the program. Another questionnaire of a similar type can be applied after the program is over to identify whether or not the program influenced the participants’ views. Also, the additional questions could be included in the questionnaire assessing the aspects of it that produced the strongest effect or the ones that were deemed boring, irrelevant, or unnecessary.
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A quantitative method such as observation can be applied to monitor the number of students who were informed about the program, who showed interest, the ones who ended up entering the program, the ones who dropped out during its course, and the ones who finished it. These numbers would help the researchers evaluate the effectiveness of the program during different phases of its planning and implementation. As a long-term follow-up, there could be another stage of the research evaluating the relationship and marriage patterns of the program participants several years after high school graduation and comparing their marital statistics (stability and rates of divorces and marriages) to those of the previous generations of students.
In conclusion, the marital statistics of the former program participants can be compared to those of their peers from the same community who were not a part of the program. This approach would help collect quantitative data about the effects of the program on the students.
American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethnic and racial minorities & socioeconomic status. Web.
Babbie, E. (2016). The basics of social research (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013). Marriage and divorce: patterns by gender, race, and educational attainment. Web.
Raley, R. K., Sweeney, M. M., & Wondra, D. (2015). The growing racial and ethnic divide in U.S. marriage patterns. Future Child, 25(2): 89–109.
Yuen, F. K. O., Terao, K. L., & Schmidt, A. M. (2013). Effective grant writing and program evaluation for human services professionals. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.