Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, No.8, 1307-1310
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 1307
Study of the Effectiveness of Social Skills Training on Social and
Emotional Competence among Students with Mathematics
Learning Disorder
Sevil Momeni1*, Manoucher Barak2, Reza Kazemi1, Abbas Abolghasemi1,
Masoud Babaei2, Frahn az Ezati2
1Psychology Grou p , Islamic Azad University, Ardabil Branch, Ardabil, Iran
2Ardabil University of Medical Sciences, Ardabil, Iran
Email: *
Received November 5th, 2011; revised November 20th, 2011; accepted January 5th, 2012
Introduction: the objective of the study was to determine the effectiveness of life skills training on social
and emotional competence of students with mathematics learning disorder. Materials and Methods: in this
study, 40 students with mathematics learning disorder were randomly selected in two groups including
experimental and control. Key math test and Felner social competence questionnaire were used for data
gathering. Intervention group was trained by life skills in eight sessions within one month. At the same
time, control group was not trained. The students of both groups filled Felner social competence ques-
tionnaire before and after training. Then, the data were analyzed by multi-variant variance analysis test.
Findings: the results showed that life skills training significantly improved social and emotional compe-
tence among the students with mathematics learning disorder. Conclusion: life skills training improved
social and emotional competence among the students with mathematics learning disorder and can be used
as an appropriate approach for the improvement of children’s social and emotional competence in learn-
ing disorder schools.
Keywords: Mathematics Learning Disorder; Social Skills; Social Competence; Emotional Competence
Children with learning disability face serious problem in one
or some of learning abilities like reading, writing and mathe-
matics (Vaughn & Sinagub, 1998). Unfortunately, despite hav-
ing appropriate IQ, they have low self-esteem and self- concept
due to not enjoying life skills and hence, they do not exhibit a
convincing performance (Rourke & Del Dotto, 1994). It is cru-
cially important that only considering specific reading, writing
and mathematics trainings and ignoring the importance of so-
cial relations limits our understanding of the significance of the
problem and our attempts to help them in improving their skills
(Bryan, 1998). The outbreak rate of mathematical learning dis-
ability has been estimated as 1% of students, while Hamid
(2006) reported it as 3.6% in Tehran. They face such emotional
threats as depression and suicide at older ages. According to
Bruno (1981) these children have problem in predicting behav-
ior sequence and selecting optimum and appropriate behavior in
dealing with different issues compared with their coevals who
do not have learning disability. Verner and Pearl (1982) showed
that when learning disabled children were stressed by their
coevals, they exhibit abnormal responses.
Emotional problems can create much anxiety by altering
mental balance which is followed by consuming medications,
depression, sexual misbehavior and suicide (Dadsetan, 1997).
According to Meadus (2007), depression, anxiety and stress are
the main emotional problems among teenagers which can dis-
rupt their social interactions and educational progress.
According to Shoma ker (1979), although the problems amo ng
children with learning disorder are not always associated with
social competence and they have appropriate skills and per-
formance in this field, they are not completely homogenous and
according to Akerman (1979), although these children can un-
derstand positive behaviors, they have problem in decision-
making and selecting a behavior and using it in social interac-
tions compared with their coevals. Shomaker (1982) proved
their disability in problem-solving, therefore by looking at so-
cial competence among students with learning disability, we
can see that they have serious problems in leaving school (ac-
cording to Ulman, 1957), delinquency (according to Roff, 1972)
and mental problems (according to Cowen, 1973). In addition,
according to White (1980), they face problems in their aca-
demic studies at older ages and are less successful in their jobs
than their coevals. Moreover, Gresham (1981) showed that suc-
cess in social interaction requires social competence. Children
with poor social behavior encounter such problems as coeval
rejection, behavioral problems and lower education status when
entering school. McClell and Morrison (2003) indicated that
50% of children who enter kindergarten do not the minimum
requirements for better performance such as the ability of fol-
lowing a given direction, independent performance and educa-
tional skills. McClell and Holmes (2000) showed that there
were significant relations between social competence and such
variables as social desirable behaviors and relations with coe-
vals, suitable behavior in classroom and adaptation to school.
*Corresponding autho r.
Social skills are a set of mental, social and interpersonal
skills which help a person to deliberately make decisions and to
have good communicative, cognitive and emotional skills with
a healthy and productive life (WHO, 1993). The researches
show that life skills training can make significant results in
various aspects of students’ mental and behavioral health. Kah-
razi et al. (2003) showed the effectiveness of problem-solving
skills training in emotional competence such as the decrease in
depression among the students. In addition, Turner and Forneris
(2007) indicated that life skills training can help problem-
solving and using social supports. Therefore, social skills train-
ing are clearly important in improving social and emotional
competence among children and its effects have been proved by
many researches.
The objective of the current research was to study the effects
of life skills training on social and emotional competence
among a special group of children, i.e. children with learning
disability because this kind of research is rare and it is impor-
tant to deeply study the different aspects of mental health
among these children.
Materials and Methods
The statistical society of the study included all students with
learning disability in elementary schools, fifth grade in Ardabil,
Iran in 2009 (n = 140) (quoted from Ardabil Learning Disabil-
ity School, 2009).
In this quasi-experimental research, 40 students were select-
ed from Learning Di sability Sc hool and were randomly divided
into two groups, 20 as control and 20 as test. The following
tools were used in data gathering:
- Key math test: the test was normalized by A. J. Konolly in
1988. It includes 13 subscales to determine the students’
strengths and weaknesses in different fields of mathematics.
It has been normalized for the students with the ages of 6.5
- 12.8 years in Iran (Mohammad-Ismail & Hooman, 2003).
Its final coefficient is .8 .
- Raven IQ test: it was constructed by Raven for the age
group of 9 - 18 years and includes 90 items. Its average in-
ternal consistency coefficient is .98 and its average reliabil-
ity coefficient is .82. Its validity coefficient has been deter-
mined as .70 - .90 for different age groups and slightly low-
er for younger ages. It correlation with other intelligence
tests such as Vexler, Stanford-Binet, Proteus and Goode-
nough has been obtained as .40 - .75. It has significant cor-
relation with other non-verbal tests (Aghayi, 1997, quoted
in Abbaszadeh Ganji & Shirzad, 2003).
- Felner social competence scale (1990): it was built on the
basis of Felner theory. It includes 47 items and measures
four aspects of cognitive skills and capabilities, behavioral
skills, emotional competence, motivation sets and expecta-
tion. Its reliability coefficient with Cronbach’s Alpha coef-
ficient is .88 and its retest reliability coefficient (after one
month) is .89. In Iran too, these four factors were confirmed
by factor analysis. In addition, its validity was studied by
factor analysis and KMO was determined as .83.
Conducting Method:
The samples were trained about life skills in eight sessions
during one month. For teaching life skills to the fifth-grade stu-
dents, Vernon curriculum was used which includes four fields
of self growth, social growth, emotional growth and cognitive
growth. One month later, questionnaires were filled out by both
groups and then, the data were analyzed by MANOVA.
Data Analysis Method: to analyze the data, statistical and de-
scriptive methods (mean and standard deviation) and MA-
NOVA (multi-variant variance analysis) were used. Statistical
Package for Social Science (SPSS Ver. 14) was used in statis-
tical analysis.
According to demographic findings, the average age of sub-
jects was 11.83 with standard deviation of .39 (it was 11.85
with standard deviation of .36 in experimental group and 11.8
with standard deviation of .41 in control). The subjects in ex-
perimental group included 6 boys and 14 girls and in control
group, 15 boys and 5 girls. Among parents, 8% of fathers and
16% of mothers were illiterate, 18% of fathers and 10% of
mothers were educated at elementary schools, and 6% of fathers
and 11% of mothers were educated at intermediate schools or
high schools (in both experimental and control group). Average
age of fathers was 44 and 42 in experimental group and that of
mothers was 36 and 35 in control group.
Mean emotional competence score of test group was greater
than that of control after training. Mean cognitive skill, motiva-
tion and expectation scores of test group were greater than
those of control after training (Table 1).
Discussion and Conclusion
In the current study, life skills training improved social and
emotional competence among students with learning disability,
so that after social skills training, the cognitive skills among
students of test group were significantly increased compared
with control (P < .001) and motivation of test group was sig-
nificantly increased compared with control (P < .00); in addi-
tion, the expectation of test group was significantly increased
compared with control (P < .001). Emotional competence of
test group was significantly increased compared with control
after social skills training, too (P < .001) (Table 2).
Table 1.
Mean and standard deviatio n of emotional and social competence in two test and control groups.
Experimental group Control gro u p
Variable Position
Pre-test 1.7 2.07 9.40 3.31
Emotional competence Post-test 8.9 3.6 9.85 3.50
Pre-test 9.95 4.03 12.43 2.83
Cognitive skills Post-test 12.24 3.58 10.02 2.72
Motivation Pre-test 123.3 9.23 122.65 8.94
Post-test 135.13 6.19 119.43 12.62
Expectation Pre-test 27.22 5.85 26.35 6.13
Post-test 31.4 4.52 27.05 5.16
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Table 2.
Results of significance test of multi-variant variance analysis of emotional and social competence marks in both test and control groups.
Total squares df Means of squa res
Variable Group Error Total Group Error Total Group Error Total F Significance
Emotional competence 18.22 140.15 209 1 38 40 18.22 3.68 - 4.94 .03
Cognitive skill 172.22601.55 775 1 38 40 172.2215.83 - 11 <.002
Motivation 128.227934.55 14675 1 38 40 1288.22- - 6.17 <.018
Expectation 122.5 183.4 546 1 38 40 122.5 5 - 25.38 <.001
The results of the current study are consistent with many pre-
vious studies on the intervention in social and emotional com-
petence among students with learning disability, so that Hazel
(1982) increased behavior level by selecting educational me-
thod in small groups of students with learning disability. La
Greca (1981) noted that the social skills were well elevated
after 6-week training in children with learning disability.
After social competence training, Larson and Gerber (1987)
reported that the groups with learning disability were not more
successful in improving their behavior than groups without this
disability. In his training interventions towards social skills
training to children with learning disability, Merz (1985) ob-
served no significant curing effect on social interactions and
communication. However, in his training interventions on chil-
dren with learning disability, Northcutt (1987) although ob-
served improvements in behavior, they were not significant. In
his study on social skills training, Nabors (2000) observed the
mitigation of aggression and depression and improvement of
self-confidence, adaptation skills and responsibility. According
to Turner et al. (2002), life skills training can improve children
social supports. Also, Jeffery (2002) reported that life skills
training can reduce stress and anxiety. According to Hajamini
et al. (1999), life skills training obviate stress, anxiety and emo-
tional responses among teenagers. Considering the effects of
life skill training on the improvement of social and emotional
competence among children with mathematics learning disabil-
ity and its positive effects observed in other studies, it is neces-
sary for training centers of children with learning disability to
plan and conduct social life skills at elementary level in accor-
dance with WHO recommendations as well as cultural and
environmental structure of the society because according to
Hontington (1993), ignoring life skills training to the students
with learning disability can put them in the risk of suicide and
depression at older ages.
One limitation of the study included the lack of social skills
training programs with standard content, so that different train-
ing contents and methods have been used for social skills train-
ing in previous studies. Another limitation was the impossibil-
ity of studying the long-term results such as significant changes
in health and social behaviors, the permanence of produced
changes and the improvement in education career. So, it is
suggested to use wider samples and longer periods in future
studies in order to study medium and long-term effects as well
as the permanence of produced changes.
I should gratefully appreciate Ardabil Disabled Education
and Training Organization and the principal of Ardabil Learn-
ing Disabled Elementary School for their kind helps in provid-
ing the space required for the research.
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