Dr. Jones’ research encourages scholars and clinicians to consider the cultural context of effective clinical interventions when working with children and families of color. Her work unequivocally underscores that culture matters and that children are better served by clinicians who actively seek to understand their clients’ cultural context. Thus, in order to serve the “whole child,” providing culturally responsive services is critical (Jones, 2014; Jones et al., 2017; Zigarelli, Jones et al., 2016).
Dr. Jones strives to produce empirically-based research about the cultural factors that promote resilience in children, particularly for children of color. She believes that culture is the context for resilience and that culturally responsive interventions reduce the negative impact of life’s unavoidable stressors on the well-being of children and adolescents of color.
Sample of Dr. Jones’ Research findings:
In a study comparing cognitive behavior therapy treatment to a culturally adapted version Jones found significant differences between treatment satisfaction and depth of treatment where cultural adaptations led to greater satisfaction and greater depth of treatment (Jones et al., 2016; Jones et al., 2017).
In another study on a culturally centered group based intervention in schools, she found that school engagement in adolescent girls was more likely to increase after participating in a culturally centered intervention (Jones, in press).
Her research on resilience has shown that African American children who are exposed to community violence are more resilient when cultural values are enacted as protective factors (Jones, 2007).
PROMOTING ENGAGEMENT AND BELONGING IN SCHOOL
ART BASED MINDFULNESS STUDY
Cultivating Learning with L.A.U.G.H. Time in Schools
In partnership with the Catherine Mayer Foundation, Dr. Jones is evaluating the impact of art based mindfulness on the learning experiences of chronically stressed children in schools.
The study is built on the premise that children can benefit from mindful practices through visual, physical, and tactile sensory experiences. Using an iPad app called L.A.U.G.H. ® (Let Art Unleash Great Happiness) and AmbientArt® technology, students are engaged in art-based mindfulness in the classroom. Dr. Jones predicts that through participating in L.A.U.G.H. time, chronically stressed students will be better able to regulate their emotions, have increased compassion for themselves and others, feel more connected to school and have greater joy in the process of learning. These benefits will occur not only for individual students but also the classroom environment and overall school culture.
SCHOOL ENGAGEMENT STUDY
Using Sisterhood Networks to Cultivate Ethnic Identity
and Enhance School Engagement
School engagement, defined as the affective and cognitive perceptions students hold about their academic experiences, has been found to be a statistically significant predictor of academic success.
As the population of students in the US has become increasingly multicultural, it is imperative that current research address the cultural influences that may be related to school engagement. This study explores how ethnic identity development and school engagement are related with a sample of African American girls in middle school. Twelve participants received six weeks of a cultural awareness group curriculum (Sisters of Nia) and six weeks of an informal girls group in this delayed-start multiple group intervention study.
School engagement, cultural style, and ethnic identity were measured throughout the group intervention. Results (Jones et al, in press) indicated that girls that participated in the culturally responsive intervention group demonstrated significantly higher ratings of their ethnic identity six weeks after the intervention concluded. Another result
indicated that one specific cultural style was predicted by group membership.
Finally, school engagement was significantly greater for the girls who participated in the culturally responsive intervention group six weeks after the intervention.
ALTERNATIVE SPACES, NEW IDENTITIES
Alternative Spaces, New Identities: Learning in nature as a cultural context for increasing school engagement and belonging
The primary goal of this study is to determine the degree to which the IslandWood School Overnight (SOP) is making a long-term impact on school engagement particularly for students of color in urban environments. Cultural Immersion experiences are perceived to be life changing for many people. There are ongoing teachable moments that transition between the organic and structured learning opportunities.
For many students in urban environments, the IslandWood School Overnight Program (SOP) is a cultural immersion experience. Students in the program learn in natural spaces to engage with others who are culturally different from themselves, and to form new perspectives based on the exposure to the IslandWood community and nature-based educational experiences. This change of perspective creates a sense of empowerment where students feel more capable of making change, taking risks, and feeling less intimidated by unfamiliar spaces and experiences. The SOP experience not only affects the empowerment that happens during the IslandWood SOP, but even after the program through impacting emotional attachments to school learning--a sense of belonging and school engagement.