05 SES 09 A, Positive Youth Development and Second Chance Education
The Positive Youth Development approach (PYD) views youth development from a broader perspective by emphasizing strengths rather than deficits. It is based on the Relational-Developmental-Systems theory (Overton, 2015) which postulates that all young people have strengths or abilities (i.e. internal assets) that can impact their thriving across the adolescence and even further into the adulthood if these internal assets are aligned with the resources in their environment (i.e. external assets). External assets are defined as support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations (i.e., family boundaries, school boundaries, positive peer influence), and constructive use of time (i.e., creative activities, youth programs, time at home). Internal assets are defined as commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity (i.e., self-esteem, sense of purpose, positive view of personal future) (Benson, 2003).
Moreover, if the developmental assets are present, youth development can be enhanced (Lerner et al., 2005), which can be seen from the presence of the PYD indicators. PYD indicators are operationalized as 5Cs and consist of competence, confidence, character, connection, and caring (Lerner et al., 2005). Competence is a positive view of one’s actions in domain-specific areas (e.g., social and academic skills) while confidence is defined as an internal sense of positive self-worth and self-efficacy. The character is defined as a possession of standards for correct behaviour with respect to societal and cultural norms. Connection represents all the positive reciprocal bonds of an adolescent with significant others and institutions. A sense of sympathy and empathy for others is termed as caring. The developmental assets and the 5Cs have been found (Scales & Leffert, 2004) to be linked to better developmental outcomes among adolescents, including lower levels of high-risk behaviours (Lewin-Bizan et al., 2010), such as aggression and violence, and higher levels of thriving, such as school success (Murry, Berkel, Simons, Simons, & Gibbons, 2014).
Considering gender differences, it has been previously found that girls usually have a higher average number of assets than boys (Scales & Leffert, 2004). Moreover, gender differences are present in 5Cs as well, since boys had higher scores in competence and confidence, while girls reported higher levels of connection, caring, and character (Gomez-Baya, Reis, & Gaspar de Matos, 2019). Regarding age differences Scales and Leffert (2004) showed that younger adolescents have a higher average number of assets than the older ones, however, up to our knowledge age differences in the 5Cs have not been considered before in a cohort study, since longitudinal studies were mostly utilized regarding the 5Cs.
PYD approach is well researched in the USA therefore all the measures were developed in that context. In order to see whether the model is transferable into European context we firstly need to have reliable and valid measures. Since it is of great significance to accurately measure the factors incorporated in the PYD model, the aim of this paper is to present psychometric properties of PYD measures to be used in analyzing the internal and external assets of PYD in Slovenia. Therefore, developmental assets and the 5Cs will be measured in two different contexts: upper secondary schools and universities. Firstly, we will check the psychometric characteristics of the instruments that measure developmental assets and 5Cs. Since our literature review has indicated the lack of the studies that examined gender and age differences in PYD, we will take a look at possible gender and age differences with particular focus on the differences among the school contexts.
The convenience sample will consist of at least 300 participants from Slovenia, approximately 150 students from high school, and 150 university students. The following instruments will be used. The Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) is comprised of 58 items assessing young people’s experience of developmental assets. First, they are organized into measures of the eight categories of developmental assets: Support, Empowerment, Boundaries & Expectations, Constructive Use of Time (external asset categories provided by adults and peers), and Commitment to Learning, Positive Values, Social Competencies, and Positive Identity (internal asset categories that youth gradually develop as they become more self-regulated). In addition to the “asset category” view, the items can be re-grouped into “asset context” views to depict how young people experience assets in these ecological contexts: Personal (Self), Social, Family, School, and Community. The scales have acceptable to good alpha (.80 and above) and stability reliabilities and demonstrate good convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity. A factor analysis yielded a 9-factor solution that explained 58% of the variance (Scales, 2011). PYD questionnaire (Geldhof et al., 2014) consists of 34 items answered on a 5-point Likert scale (with responses ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree). The items measure the 5Cs: Competence (e.g., I do very well in my classwork at school), Confidence (e.g., All in all, I am glad I am me), Caring (e.g., When I see another person who is hurt or upset, I feel sorry for them), Character (e.g., I hardly ever do things I know I shouldn't do), and Connection (e.g., My friends care about me). The questionnaire has proven to be psychometrically adequate (Geldhof et al., 2014). Since our aim is to adequately assess the psychometric properties of the used instruments, we will first check on the internal consistencies of the instruments (Cronbach’s alpha) and validity analysis (Confirmatory Factor Analysis). We will consider the 8-factor structure for the Developmental Assets Profile and 5-factor structure in the case of PYD questionnaire as it has been previously recommended (Scales, 2011; Geldhof et al., 2013). Afterwards, gender and age differences will be examined using Multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) and Analysis of variance (ANOVA).
PYD approach addresses a complex system of bidirectional interaction between the individual and his or her context, which can be measured by using Developmental Assets Profile and the short form of PYD questionnaire. It is expected that the instruments will have adequate internal consistencies and that CFA will confirm a good fit of data to the previously known structure since the instruments were shown to be psychometrically adequate in other contexts, especially in the USA. Regarding the gender differences, it is expected that girls will differ from boys in some internal or external assets as well as in the 5Cs (Benson, Scales, & Syvertsen, 2011; Gomez-Baya et al., 2019). Besides gender, it is presumed that age will impact the developmental assets and the 5Cs since the participants belong to different educational contexts (Benson et al., 2011). In order to broaden the understanding of the PYD approach in the European context the findings will be put into the European context by comparing our findings to research on PYD across Europe (Positive Youth Development Cross-National Project; Wiium, 2020). Possible gender and age differences will provide a baseline for designing tailor-made interventions and especially point out the youth at risk (e.g., where the interventions are most needed regarding the type of school or gender). A special focus will be put on different educational contexts and the development of specific guidelines for teachers to increase one’s positive development in upper secondary schools and universities settings. Most importantly, it is crucial to recognize and support protective factors of youth in order to successfully reduce risk behaviours, such as substance abuse, violence, early school leaving, and emotional difficulties (e.g., depression and anxiety).
Benson, P. L. (2003). Developmental assets and asset-building community: Conceptual and empirical foundations. In R. M. Lerner & P. L. Benson (Eds.), Developmental assets and asset-building communities: Implications for research, policy, and practice (pp. 19–43). New York, NY, US: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C., & Syvertsen, A. K. (2011). The contribution of the developmental assets framework to positive youth development theory and practice. In R. M. Lerner, J. V. Lerner and J. B. Benson. Advances in child development and behavior (vol. 41, pp. 197–230). London, UK: Elsevier. Geldhof, G. J., Bowers, E. P., Boyd, M. J., Mueller, M. K., Napolitano, C. M., Schmid, K. L., ... Lerner, R. M. (2014). Creation of short and very short measures of the five Cs of positive youth development. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 24(1), 163–176. Gomez‐Baya, D., Reis, M., & Gaspar de Matos, M. (2019). Positive youth development, thriving and social engagement: An analysis of gender differences in Spanish youth. Scandinavian journal of psychology, 60(6), 559–568. Lerner, R. M., Lerner, J. V., Almerigi, J. B., Theokas, C., Phelps, E., Gestsdottir, S., … Von Eye, A. (2005). Positive youth development, participation in community youth development programs, and community contributions of fifth-grade adolescents: Findings from the first wave of the 4-H study of positive youth development. Journal of Early Adolescence, 25, 17–71. Lewin-Bizan, S., Lynch, A. D., Fay, K., Schmid, K., McPherran, C., Lerner, J. V., & Lerner, R. M. (2010). Trajectories of positive and negative behaviors from early-to middle-adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(7), 751–763. Murry, V. M., Berkel, C., Simons, R. L., Simons, L. G., & Gibbons, F. X. (2014). A twelve‐year longitudinal analysis of positive youth development among rural African American males. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 24(3), 512–525. Overton, W. F. (2015). Processes, relations, and relational‐developmental‐systems. In R. M. Lerner, Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science, (pp. 1–54). Hoboken, USA: Wiley. Scales, P. C. (2011). Youth developmental assets in global perspective: Results from international adaptations of the Developmental Assets Profile. Child Indicators Research, 4, 619–645. Scales, P. C., & Leffert, N. (2004). Developmental assets: A synthesis of the scientific research on adolescent development (2nd ed.). Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute. Wiium, N. (2020). Positive Youth Development in a Cross-National Perspective. Retrieved from https://www.uib.no/en/rg/sipa/pydcrossnational
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