An exploratory study of afterschool programs' impact on locus of control scores

The purpose of this study was to explore the effect afterschool programs have on locus of control (internal and external) scores of students. The participants included 26 ninth-grade students from the Step Up program of California Community Partners for Youth. This longitudinal, mixed-methods study aimed to capture and document significant changes through a four-month span of students’ participation in the program. The ROPELOC instrument was used to examine locus of control scores throughout the duration of the study. The qualitative component of this study, consisting of in-depth interviews, was meant to identify what parts of the program are effective in increasing locus of control scores. Although no statistically significant difference was found, the results indicated that locus of control scores at 4 months into the Step Up program had increased from the beginning of the program. Participants attributed mentoring, safe environment, and rope challenge course as components of the Step Up program that increased their internal locus of control scores. Participants attributed neighborhood violence and family issues as components that increased external locus of control scores. The findings of this study reflect the need for safe environments where students can receive mentoring as a way to feel empowered to effect change and to feel more in control of their lives. Social workers need to work in collaboration with schools and the larger community to increase neighborhood safety for youth, in order to impact their internal locus of control and overall well-being.