Measuring and Understanding Authentic Youth Engagement

Posted by Afterschool Matters on May 16, 2016

Measuring and Understanding Authentic Youth Engagement
The Youth-Adult Partnership Rubric

Commonly described as youth-led or youth-driven, the youth-adult partnership (Y-AP) model has gained increasing popularity in out-of-school time (OST) programs in the past two decades (Larson, Walker, & Pearce, 2005; Zeldin, Christens, & Powers, 2013). The Y-AP model is defined as “the practice of (a) multiple youth and multiple adults deliberating and acting together (b) in a collective (democratic) fashion (c) over a sustained period of time (d) through shared work (e) intended to promote social justice, strengthen an organization and/or affirmatively address a community issue” (Zeldin et al., 2013, p. 388). Unlike traditional OST programs, in which youth are viewed as service recipients, the Y-AP model emphasizes that youth serve in meaningful leadership roles in the organization or program. Studies show that programs using a Y-AP model have offered youth such diverse and meaningful roles as being youth council members, activity
leaders, or program representatives in community events (Zeldin, Camino, & Mook, 2005). Research has also
found that these experiences facilitate the development of youth autonomy (Akiva, Cortina, & Smith, 2014), which is a critical developmental need for adolescence. These leadership roles also contribute to youths’ empowerment and civic engagement, develop social-emotional skills, and bring about positive changes in communities (Akiva et al., 2014; Ferguson, Kim, & McCoy, 2011; Larson & Angus, 2011; Wong, Zimmerman, & Parker, 2010; Youniss & Levine, 2009).

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