A Study of Positive Youth Development Among High School Students
What We Do
This study will examine whether participation in an inter-group dialogue program during the school year enhances strengths conceptualized in the “positive youth development” paradigm and diversity-related values, and promotes ethnic identity exploration among high school students.
This will be accomplished by conducting a pilot evaluation of the Youth Roundtables Program at Charlottesville High School (CHS). Youth Roundtables is an after-school program run by staff from the Stillwater Institute for Social Justice (appendix A). Students participate in an intergroup dialogue process facilitated by the Stillwater staff and then are trained to become IGD facilitators themselves. Given evidence that after-school programs in general and IGD programs in particular may promote positive outcomes in youth, this study will compare Youth Roundtables participants to a similar group of students to assess changes over the school year in the five domains of PYD as well as in other domains believed to be affected by IGD, including racial/ethnic identity exploration, cross-racial friendships, and communication skills. The Stillwater Institute’s mission for Youth Roundtables is to “provide education and training to encourage citizens to live up to their potential as social justice advocates”; therefore, this study is well-aligned with the Youth-Nex emphasis on engaged citizenship. Given the theoretical framework of PYD, at a secondary level, the proposed project may also provide insight into risk prevention during adolescence.