Positive Youth Development in the United States: Research Findings on Evaluations of Positive Youth Development Programs. Cognitive


The second aspect of cognitive competence is related to academic and intellectual achievement. The emphasis here is on the development of core capacities including the ability to use logic, analytic thinking, and abstract reasoning. Many preventive interventions have focused on promoting this form of cognitive competence to prevent school failure (Berrueta-Clement, Schweinhart, Barnett, Epstein & Weikart, 1984; Horacek, Ramey, Campbell, Hoffman & Fletcher, 1987; Seitz, Rosenbaum & Apfel, 1985), and strengthen commitment to school (Gottfredson, 1988; Johnston, O'Malley & Bachman, 1985), because low academic achievement is a risk factor for many negative youth outcomes including substance abuse (Holmberg, 1985; Jessor, 1976; Robins, 1980) and violence (Tolan & Guerra, 1994).

Operational Definition.  A program was classified as promoting cognitive competence if it sought to influence a child's cognitive abilities, processes, or outcomes, including academic performance, logical and analytic thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, planning, goal-setting, and self-talk skills.