Research and Evidence Supporting Active Relationships Center® Courses
ARC® curricula are research- and evidence-based by Baylor University professors of Social Work or Fuller Theological Seminary and outcomes are published in peer-reviewed journals including the Family Science Review and Social Work & Christianity, an international journal.
Our courses have been utilized by the U.S. military, including the Army, Air Force, Air National Guard, Army Reserves and Navy. They have also been used in federal grant projects for Head Start, Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Initiatives, Teen Pregnancy Prevention, and in federal projects for refugees and immigrants.
Christian programs are utilized in faith communities, incarceration and re-entry settings. Programs are also used in police academies and for professionals in business. Schools have utilized youth and parent programs with high acclaim. Spanish-language programs are utilized nationwide and the ARC Federal Hispanic Active Relationships Project achieved status as top 12 in the nation for “Promising Practices” in the field.
In 2008 in the Social Work and Christianity Journal (Vol. 35, Number 3), an evaluation of Active Relationships Center’s Active Military Life Skills (an earlier version of Active Military Life and Resiliency Skills) was published on research conducted on 25 Air Force couples by Baylor University. Results showed statistically significant positive changes in participants in the areas of marital satisfaction, positive communication, conflict resolution, commitment to present relationship and a decrease in negative interaction.
The research included in this publication can be reviewed in the 2006 Final Report.
The initial research on the Hispanic Active Relationships Project (HARP) project examined pre- and post-test surveys from participants who attended an Active Communication class in one of eight locations across the state of Texas. 80% of participants were of Hispanic descent, while 63% had Spanish as their first language. Outcomes achieved statistical significance (p<.05) and were featured on CBS news and at the National Hispanic Marriage Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Hispanic Active Relations Project (HARP)
The goal of the Hispanic Active Relationships Project (HARP) was to improve relationship skills and knowledge for couples, youth and singles in Cameron County, TX through workshops and events. Workshop participants came from a wide variety of education and income levels. During the five-year project, 5,800 people attended more than 300 Active Communication, Active Money Personalities, Active Romance and Intimacy and Active Relationships for Young Adults workshops. The research showed statistically significant changes for couples on all measures and the majority of measures for youth and singles, meaning these groups all developed a more meaningful understanding of the attitudes and skills that healthy, long-lasting relationships require. Through these workshops, 189 facilitators (leaders) were trained to continue to help build positive and strong relationships for others in the community.
National Healthy Marriage Resource Center featured HARP in a case study analysis regarding marketing and outreach in Hispanic Communities.
Baylor University reports findings on the effectiveness of Active Communication during HARP workshops.
Active Relationships has been providing classes for adolescents, including teen pregnancy prevention, throughout the U.S., including through various YWCA locations and in charter public schools. Active Relationships for Young Adults (ARYA) consists of 12 lessons that educate teens to make wise choices, leading to increased opportunities for future success through teen pregnancy prevention and focus on career goals.
Specifically, ARYA showed dramatic teen pregnancy prevention effects in two Texas communities served through a Community-Based Abstinence Education grant to the Medical Institute for Sexual Health. Based on two years of data, there was a 30% decrease in teen pregnancies in the Fabens Independent School District and a 25% decline in the San Elizaro School District, both in El Paso County. The Fabens ISD teen birth rate declined from 100 per 1,000 teen girls to 47 per 1,000 in two years, while the San Elizaro ISD teen birth rate declined from 123 per 1,000 to 108 per 1,000 during the same period. As compared to the pre-tests on the ARYA curriculum, there were significant changes in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, intent and self-efficacy to remain abstinent among the students who participated in the program and completed the pre-test and post-test surveys. Responses were received from 829 high school students in the initial year and 908 students in the following year.
Published in 2009 by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Family Assistance, a review of select grantees, “Emerging Findings from the Office of Family Assistance Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Grant Programs: A Review of Select Grantee Profiles and Promising Results,” focused on the Hispanic Active Relationships Project (HARP) of Cameron County, Texas. HARP offers programs in both English and Spanish, serves over 1,000 Hispanic families per year through peer mentoring for couples and weekend retreats, and emphasizes the importance of marriage education and the development of healthy relationship skills. For more information, please review the PDF article.
Hispanic Active Relationships Project – Active Relationships for Young Adults Research
Dr. Preston M. Dyer and Dr. Kim Kotrla, Baylor University, School of Social Work, Waco, Texas
Over three years, Baylor University collected data from 353 young adults, 286 of which were included in data analysis. Participants ranged from 14 to 21 years old. 13 items consistently demonstrated significant change each year. These items are:
- I can name some benefits of having a healthy marriage.
- I can name some predictors of a healthy marriage.
- It is important to know that the traits in my partner are reliable before I marry and have children.
- I know how to make a budget.
- I can respectfully discuss money matters if/when I am in an intimate relationship.
- I believe living on a budget is essential to creating a healthy marriage.
- I understand the legal responsibilities of being a parent, including the possibility of having to pay child support until the child is 18.
- If I have a baby with someone, the state will hold me responsible for caring for that child.
- If I have a baby with someone, the state has the right to take money from me to support that child.
- I can define verbal, physical and emotional abuse.
- I can name some behaviors that are related to relationships violence.
- I know that the chemical high of hormones can lead to making poor decisions.
- I know specific characteristics to look for in a partner to increase my chances of developing a healthy, long-term relationship.
Active Relationships for Young Adults Pilot Research
Amanda Weatherby, M. A., Fuller Theological Seminary, Graduate School of Psychology Pasadena, California
159 young adults participated in the the pilot research for Active Relationships for Young Adults curriculum. Participants ranged from 10 to 19 years old. Findings showed that:
- Youth who saw themselves as good problem solvers at the beginning of the program also saw themselves as good problem solvers at the end.
- Youth who thought they had good behavior control also reported greater scores in general functioning with their families by the end of the program.
- Youth who reported good behavior control prior to attending the program reported themselves as better problem solvers after attending the program.
- Youth who reported better general family functioning reported greater behavior control by the end of the program.
- Youth reporting good behavior control also reported that they were better communicators at the end of the program.
- Youth who reported themselves as better problem solvers at the end of the program also reported that they were better communicators.
- Youth who reported using power state thinking more often reported greater behavior control.
Journal of Christian and Social Work
In 2008 in the Social Work and Christianity Journal (Vol. 35, Number 3), an evaluation of Active Relationships Center’s Active Military Life Skills, an earlier version of Active Military Life and Resiliency Skills, was published on research conducted on 25 Air Force couples by Baylor University. Results showed statistically significant positive changes in participants in the areas of marital satisfaction, positive communication, conflict resolution and commitment to present relationship, and a decrease in negative interaction. To order a copy of the journal, please visit nacsw.org or download the PDF article below.
In 2010 in the Family Science Review (Vol. 15, Number 2), Baylor University reports findings on the effectiveness of Active Communication during HARP workshops. Results showed statistically significant positive changes in participants in the areas of marital satisfaction, positive communication and conflict resolution, a decrease in negative interaction, an increase in relationship commitment. To order a copy of the journal, please visit familyscienceassociation.org, or download the PDF Article.
Baylor University was selected to research ARC curricula based upon its dedication to the field of research. Being identified as one of the most productive universities for research in the nation, Baylor has continued to further academic knowledge in several areas, including social work, family wellness and relationship/marriage education.
Through the Department of Social Work, Dr. Preston Dyer and Dr. Kim Kotrla co-researched ARC curricula and conducted follow-up research on the Hispanic Active Relationships Project marriage education and youth programs in Brownsville, Texas. Both Dr. Dyer and Dr. Kotrla share a passion for families and the development of healthy marriage education.