Adrienne M. Duke, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013
(334) 844-4091 | 286 Spidle Hall
Young Women’s Leadership Program
Numerous research studies have shown that many young girls struggle with the transition into adolescence. Research documents that for adolescent girls, having a mentor promotes positive development through role modeling and emotional support, facilitates improvements in attitudes and self-perceptions, and reduces risky sexual behavior (Taylor-Seehafer & Rew, 2000). Therefore the young women’ leadership program pairs junior high school girls at Auburn Junior High, with Auburn University undergraduate Big Sisters in a one-on-one, two-semester mentoring program. I work with school guidance counselors, to identify young girls who have high academic/leadership potential while also having risk factors for not completing high school or entering college. Mentors are from any major on campus and are required to have a 2.5 GPA, two letters of recommendation, and be interviewed by former undergraduate mentors. In order to ensure that our mentors are prepared with the skills needed to support a young adolescent girl, they take a class titled, Issues in Adolescent Girlhood and receive youth development, leadership and mentorship training during the fall semester, which I teach.
The YWLP aims to improve the academic, social and emotional adjustment of the Junior High girls enrolled in the program. The program seeks to impact the college student participants as they learn how to apply the knowledge gained through coursework, in their interpersonal relationships. The program also promotes diversity by providing a program that includes participants (both mentors and mentees) from diverse racial, class, and economic backgrounds, and by fostering opportunities for college students and youth from varied backgrounds to form mentoring relationships. Qualitative and quantitative program data are collected annually.
Be SAFE Evaluation Study
My current Extension programming and scholarship is focused on preventing bullying behaviors during early adolescence. The National Center for Education Statistics (2011) reported that 28% of students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied or harassed at school; this includes physical, verbal, and emotional bullying, as well as cyberbullying. The family and child development team has implemented a research-based curriculum, Be SAFE, across the state to improve social and emotional skills, decrease bullying and bias, and increase bystander advocacy. The Be SAFE curriculum targets 12-15 year olds and provides youth with role playing, discussion, and problem solving activities to help them intervene in bullying situations. Be SAFE targets the peer group, rather than individual bullies or victims because research suggests bullying is a group process and bullying related attitudes and behaviors tend to be shared among peer clusters and friend groups. The Be SAFE curriculum is evaluated through pre-post surveys for its effectiveness in developing pro-social behaviors, reducing bullying incidences and knowledge gains related to advocacy skills for those that witness bullying behaviors. The data from our evaluation study shows that students increased in their knowledge of how to help someone being bullied and knowledge of ally behaviors. Students also increased in knowing what to do when they themselves do not feel safe. The ability to describe qualities of a healthy peer relationships also increase which may help increase positive peer relationships in the future.
My anti-bullying work is not just youth-focused, but also includes raising adult competence through the development of fact sheets, workshops, and web-products, to proactively address bullying in schools, at home, and in other community settings.