Promoting Afterschool Quality and Positive Youth Development: Cluster Randomized Trial of the Pax Good Behavior Game

Emilie Phillips Smith, D. Wayne Osgood, Yoonkyung Oh, Linda C. Caldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This randomized trial tested a strategy originally developed for school settings, the Pax Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG), in the new context of afterschool programs. We examined this approach in afterschool since 70% of all juvenile crime occurs between the hours of 3–6 pm, making afterschool an important setting for prevention and promotion. Dual-career and working families need monitoring and supervision for their children in quality settings that are safe and appropriately structured. While substantial work has identified important features of afterschool programs, increasing attention is being given to how to foster quality. PAX GBG, with its focus on shared norms, cooperative teams, contingent activity rewards, and liberal praise, could potentially enhance not only appropriate structure and supportive relationships, but also youth self-regulation, co-regulation, and socio-emotional development. This study examined the PAX GBG among 76 afterschool programs, serving 811 youth ages 5–12, who were diverse in race-ethnicity, socio-economic status, and geographic locale. Demographically matched pairs of afterschool programs were randomized to PAX GBG or treatment-as-usual. Independent observers conducted ratings of implementation fidelity and program quality across time; along with surveys of children’s problem and prosocial behavior. Interaction effects were found using hierarchical linear models such that experimental programs evidencing higher implementation fidelity demonstrated better program quality than controls, (i.e., less harshness, increased appropriate structure, support, and engagement), as well as reduced child-reported hyperactivity and intent-to-treat effects on prosocial behavior. This study demonstrates that best practices fostered by PAX GBG and implemented with fidelity in afterschool result in higher quality contexts for positive youth development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-173
Number of pages15
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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