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Toward a Measure for Assessing Features of Effective Youth Development Programs: Contextual Safety and the “Big Three” Components of Positive Youth Development Programs in Rwanda

  • Jonathan M. TirrellEmail author
  • Elizabeth M. Dowling
  • Patricia Gansert
  • Mary Buckingham
  • Caitlin A. Wong
  • Sara Suzuki
  • Catherine Naliaka
  • Patience Kibbedi
  • Emmanuel Namurinda
  • Kate Williams
  • G. John Geldhof
  • Jacqueline V. Lerner
  • Pamela Ebstyne King
  • Alistair T. R. Sim
  • Richard M. Lerner
Original Paper
  • 20 Downloads

Abstract

Background

When delivered in a safe space, programs effective in promoting positive youth development (PYD) involve key features termed the Big Three: (1) Positive and sustained adult–youth relationships; (2) Life-skill-building activities; and (3) Opportunities for youth contribution and leadership. However, no measures exist in the literature for assessing the Big Three.

Objective

The present study sought to develop a quantitative measure of program quality.

Method

Using data collected from Rwandese participants from the Compassion International (CI) Study of PYD, we developed a youth-report measure with two groups: 603 youth enrolled in CI-supported programs, and 320 youth not enrolled in CI but involved in other youth development programs (total N = 923, Mage = 11.81 years, SD = 1.68). We used exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to refine the item pool. Using a propensity-score matched subsample, we added a measure of youth contribution to assess predictive validity of the measure, and tested for between-group measurement invariance across age, gender, and CI-enrollment status. We then compared CI-supported and non-CI-supported youth as an initial assessment using the measure.

Results

We established a parsimonious and robust measure of the Big Three demonstrating strong psychometric properties. CI-supported-youth reported higher levels of each of the Big Three features.

Conclusions

These results provide information about the usefulness of a measure assessing the Big Three attributes of effective PYD programs. We discuss how future research using this approach to understanding the content of youth development programs may provide evidence of how PYD may be promoted.

Keywords

Big Three Youth development programs Positive youth development Compassion International Study of PYD Rwanda 

Notes

Funding

This study was funded by grants from Compassion International and King Philanthropies.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Data Integrity

The authors take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan M. Tirrell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth M. Dowling
    • 1
  • Patricia Gansert
    • 1
  • Mary Buckingham
    • 1
  • Caitlin A. Wong
    • 2
  • Sara Suzuki
    • 3
  • Catherine Naliaka
    • 4
  • Patience Kibbedi
    • 4
  • Emmanuel Namurinda
    • 4
  • Kate Williams
    • 4
  • G. John Geldhof
    • 5
  • Jacqueline V. Lerner
    • 3
  • Pamela Ebstyne King
    • 6
  • Alistair T. R. Sim
    • 4
  • Richard M. Lerner
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Applied Research in Youth DevelopmentTufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  2. 2.Wantagh Public SchoolsWantaghUSA
  3. 3.Boston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  4. 4.Compassion InternationalColorado SpringsUSA
  5. 5.Oregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  6. 6.Fuller Theological SeminaryPasadenaUSA

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