Engagement and Mentor Support as Drivers of Social Development in the Project K Youth Development Program
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Youth development programs can achieve positive social outcomes, however studies comparing the influence of different program components are rare. Structural equation modeling of longitudinal, multilevel data (N = 327) from Project K, a multi-component youth development program, assessed how experiences of engagement or support in each component affected social outcomes. Participants reported significant gains in social self-efficacy and sense of community after the program. Engagement in the outdoor adventure and support during the mentoring partnership components significantly contributed to observed social gains, while engagement in the community service component did not. Results confirm youth development programs can positively influence adolescent social development, while highlighting the importance of moving beyond “black box” investigations in order to maximize program impact and efficiency.
KeywordsYouth development Social development Self-efficacy Program evaluation Adventure programs Mentoring
The authors gratefully acknowledge the Graeme Dingle Foundation and their Community Partners for their part in implementing the evaluation and supporting the research. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
K. D. designed the original study with support from J. M. and under the supervision of N. H., and all authors contributed to aspects of the research design for this article. J. M. coordinated and managed the data collection. M. C. led the statistical analyses and drafted the methods and results with K. D., while C. C., K. D. and N. H. all contributed to the interpretation of results. C. C. took primary responsibility for writing the full article with support from K. D. and N. H. All authors reviewed and approved the final version.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of Interest
J. M. is the Research and Evaluation Manager for the Graeme Dingle Foundation, the organization that owns the Project K program. She was involved in the study design and data collection; however, she had no involvement in the data analysis or reporting of the findings. C. C., K. D., N. H. and M. C. declare that they have no competing interests.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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