Youth should be involved throughout the entire process through a collaborative relationship with adults. They can be engaged by helping think of research questions, issues, focus groups, and observation. It is key to make sure youth aren’t just saying what they do and don’t like, but actually making decisions. Adults can help in this process by building their skills to engage youth through exposure to youth culture.
When a program is evidence-based their program has been through an experimental design, is shown to work, and evaluated at a rigorous level. A research-based program means the incorporated content of a program is supported by current research. Model programs are listed on a website shown with the best evidence of effectiveness, but qualifications can vary by website. In order to implement an evidence-based program content must be followed to reach the same outcomes, keeping in mind that some things may need to be thoughtfully adapted to fit the audience.
Evaluation is key to knowing, especially for participates, that differences are being made in terms of program quality and outcomes. Funders want to make sure they are putting their money to good use to a sustainable program. Evidence of change being made also helps the program tell their story and get their message across.
When reporting results identify the audience and what they need to know in order to make a decision by using bullet points and putting findings within the context of similar findings. Usually a less biased person that is an advocate for the program that the audience will listen to is a better choice than the researcher who conducted the study. Some general rules when conveying results: simple is always better, pictures help clarify, and use multiple perspectives.
Outcomes can occur at different levels; activities, participants, and system wide outcomes. Process evaluation looks at what went on in the program that is helping achieve the outcomes. Outcome evaluation looks at what is expected to change in the participants when going through the program and why.
Program quality is not just outcomes but also a point of service quality, or what’s happening within interactions. Components of good program quality can include youth engagement, supportive relationships, critical thinking, and physical and emotional safety. All of these components can serve as intermediate developmental outcomes.
This video explains the importance of a community or school review board in order to protect the people involved in research from harm and experimenters from any legal issues. The review board must know what kind of data will be collected, how information will remain confidential, and how consent will be obtained.
This video explains the advantages and disadvantages of a program using experimental design, with the ultimate advantage of knowing that the program is the only cause of the change. Experimental design can only be achieved when the program is ready and has established protocols for program delivery.
In Oregon, recent efforts by a group of state agencies and community partners led to the adoption of a Positive Youth Development (PYD) benchmark by the Oregon Progress Board in 2006. In this paper, we describe the process of creating the state benchmark and present research evidence showing strong relationships that link high levels of PYD to reduced levels of risk behaviors and increased levels of positive, healthy behaviors among Oregon youth.