Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 17–26

Adolescents' Accounts of Growth Experiences in Youth Activities

  • Jodi B. Dworkin
  • Reed Larson
  • David Hansen

DOI: 10.1023/A:1021076222321

Cite this article as:
Dworkin, J.B., Larson, R. & Hansen, D. Journal of Youth and Adolescence (2003) 32: 17. doi:10.1023/A:1021076222321


Little theory and research exists on the developmental processes that occur during adolescents' participation in extracurricular and community based-activities. As a step in that direction, we conducted 10 focus groups aimed at getting high school students' descriptions of their “growth experiences” in these activities. The youth reported both personal and interpersonal processes of development. The personal experiences included experimentation and identity work, development of initiative skills such as learning to set goals and manage time, and learning strategies for emotional regulation. The interpersonal experiences included acquiring new peer relationships and knowledge, developing group social skills such as taking responsibility and how to work together as a team, and developing valuable connections to adults. Across domains, adolescents described themselves as the agents of their own development and change. Youth activities appear to be a context in which adolescents are active producers of development.

growth identity initiative emotional regulation team work social capital adolescence youth activities after school activities extracurricular activities 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jodi B. Dworkin
    • 1
  • Reed Larson
    • 2
  • David Hansen
    • 3
  1. 1.University of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign
  2. 2.Human Development and Family StudiesUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign
  3. 3.University of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign