By Patrick Tolan, Director of Youth-Nex; and Professor at the Curry School of Education and Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences
Related posts available under YN Working Conference April 2012
As you read more about the conference, now and over the coming weeks, we hope you will utilize this blog as a point of exchange for thoughts about the conference and for your work relating to PYD.
The meeting’s purpose was to review, discuss, and reformulate the study of Positive Youth Development (PYD) within a framework that views interventions as enhancing and affecting development. It was a success by all measures, with one very eminent scholar saying it was transforming for her.
We were able to formulate several critical scientific and scholarly issues and to create potential solutions for advancing knowledge and capability about evaluation of programs thought to promote Positive Youth Development. We recognized that much like prevention science twenty years ago, this is a new area for sound evaluation and while able to be served by some existing methods and approaches to conception of impact, there was need to build on advance both technical and conceptual approaches.
For example, it is well recognized that PYD programs serve a wide range of youth and often have multiple benefits that vary across participants. This has eluded good evaluation as it can not be reduced to simply some main effect or average benefit and yet can not be convincing with only extensive case examples or testimony.
We discussed what we thought were the key processes and how these “multitudinal” efforts might be evaluated to correctly consider variation in individual need and gain while providing a reliable valid test of overall benefit (does it work). We mapped out a series of efforts, including a task force to further define the needed approach and preferred methods, potential cross-lab collaborations, and other scholarly output that could advance the field.
Thank you everyone who made the conference so fruitful. I look forward to hearing more from you.
Patrick Tolan is Director of Youth-Nex; and Professor at the Curry School of Education and Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences