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Youth as Evaluators

 
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What is Youth Engagement, Really?

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Youth Engagement in Programs

Youth Engagement in Organizations

"Youth are not merely respondents of methods created by adults nor are they consultants on adult-led evaluations. Instead they are creators of knowledge, shaping their own methods, analyzing and interpreting the data gathered, and reporting their findings."

- Kim Sabo Flores [1]

Additional Resources from ACT for Youth

Youth-Adult Partnerships in Evaluation: A Resource Guide

A solid body of research has been conducted on the processes and outcomes of youth and adults working together on evaluation projects. Building from the research, this Resource Guide offers tip sheets for successful youth-adult partnerships in evaluation, a comprehensive list of data analysis strategies, recommended reading for practitioners, and an annotated bibliography of Y-AP research.

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Youth Participatory Evaluation

What is Youth Participatory Evaluation?

Youth participatory evaluation (YPE) is an approach that engages young people in evaluating the programs, organizations, and systems designed to serve them. Through YPE, young people conduct research on issues and experiences that affect their lives, developing knowledge about their community that can be shared and put to use. There are different models of YPE: some are completely driven by youth, while others are conducted in partnership with adults.

Where Did It Come From?

Although participatory approaches have been used for decades (e.g., action research, empowerment evaluation), involving adolescents is a relatively recent and increasing visible phenomenon. Youth Participatory Evaluation has emerged over the last several years as a new field of inquiry, influenced by positive youth development and participatory evaluation methods and approaches. Its foundation has been laid: definitions have been established; core principles of youth participation to guide practice have been delineated; and articles, journals, and books have been written, exploring its dimensions and impacts. Yet the actual practice of bringing adolescents to the evaluation table, as full partners rather than subjects of study, is still relatively uncommon. In recent years, a number of resources for YPE have been developed to facilitate this practice.

How Are Youth Involved?

A wide variety of YPE projects are taking place in urban, suburban, and rural areas spanning the globe. They take place in schools, community programs, and research organizations. Youth can be involved in all aspects of evaluation and research, including:
  • Developing research questions
  • Identifying the sample and recruiting participants
  • Creating data collection instruments (such as surveys)
  • Collecting information, gathering data
  • Interpreting and analyzing findings
  • Presenting findings
  • Making recommendations for change; advocating for use of findings
The chart below illustrates the range of youth involvement in evaluation and research.

A Continuum of Youth Involvement in Evaluation and Research

Youth Involvement Process
 
Highest
 
Youth-led research/evaluation is part of organizational planning cycle; experienced youth act as peer trainers and are paid
 
High
 
Youth participate in research design, data collection, and analysis; youth report findings, implement change
 
Medium-High
 
Youth design and administer research instruments; adults analyze results, develop findings, implement changes
 
Medium-Low
 
Youth give input on process
 
Low
 
Youth collect data
 
Very Low
 
Information is collected from youth
 
None
 
Outside adult conducts research without collecting information directly from youth

References

[1]   Sabo Flores, K. (2008). Youth participatory evaluation: Strategies for engaging young people. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
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