REAL Essentials is Evidence-Based and Evidence-Informed

The REAL Essentials curricula suite was developed in alignment with studies and data on effective communication strategies which includes conflict resolution and best practices in the field of human development and thriving.  The Center for Relationship Education collaborates with the University of Denver (DU) Department of Psychology,  and the Center for Marriage and Family Studies. DU research contributors  include: Scott Stanley, PhD., Howard Markman, PhD and Galena Rhoades, PhD. Other research and best practices in the field emanate from the Search Institute, the Institute for Family Studies, the Center for Non-Violent Communication,  the Harvard Human Flourishing Project, and many subject matter experts in the field of psychology and health. The REAL Essentials suite of curricula includes best practices regarding adult pedagogy which is the foundation for topics and skills to be learned, operationalized and practiced.

Multiple learning theories are applied throughout the curricula to engage evidence-informed practices for impact and behavior change.

Learning Theories Used in the REAL Essentials Curriculum

Social Cognitive Theory
Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory suggests that humans can learn through observation without imitating the observed behavior. The theory suggests that a combination of behavioral, cognitive and environmental factors influence behavior. Bandura suggests that observational or social learning focuses on four component processes needed to model and learn behavior—attention, retention, behavior production and motivation. Observers believe that if the modeled behavior has received reinforcement, they will most likely receive reinforcement as well. Reinforcement gives an incentive for putting observation into action.

Theory of Planned Behavior
The Theory of Planned Behavior is a theory about the link between attitudes and behavior. It was proposed by Icek Ajzen as an extension of the theory of reason and is one of the most predictive persuasion theories. It has been applied to studies outlining the relationship among beliefs, attitudes, behavioral intentions and behaviors in various fields such as advertising, public relations, advertising campaigns and healthcare. It involves utilizing what participants believe, the influence of others and the confidence to act according to their perception of norms, consequences, skill set and affirmation of their behavior.

Social Inoculation Theory
Social Inoculation Theory was developed by social psychologist William J. McGuire in 1961 to explain more about how attitudes and beliefs change, and more importantly, how to keep original attitudes and beliefs consistent in the face of persuasion attempts. In this educational method, the educator inoculates the participant with scenarios about what is happening or what will happen so that when that event or scenario actually takes place, the participant has the skills to resist the pressure therefore resisting the persuasion and the behavior.

Social Norms Theory
Social Norms Theory states that much of people’s behavior is influenced by their perception of how other members of their social group behave. If participants think that their peer group is engaging in high risk behaviors, they are more likely to also engage in that type of behavior.

Behavioral Change Theory
Behavior change theory implies that the following 5 cyclical components of patterned responses directs people toward sustained behavior change. The 5 components of the Behavior Change Theory are as follows: Pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation for action, action, and maintenance. Individuals who learn and progress through these 5 stages develop pathways that can alter previous behavioral patterns.

REAL Essentials has been evaluated by an independent educational evaluator whose preliminary findings were:

Pre-post data demonstrates statistical significant positive movement on a 7 point Lickert Scale from pre to post-tests within 26 items which represent the following categories: Peer Self-Esteem, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Impulse Control, Attitudes about Relationships, Cohabitation, Marriage, Non-marital Childbearing, Poverty Prevention, Self-efficacy, Social Skills, Success Sequencing, Relationship Pacing, Consent, Kindness, Inclusivity, Primary Prevention, Risk Reduction, Knowledge, Behavioral Intentions and Present and Recent Behavior.

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