Adolescents' Accounts of Growth Experiences in Youth Activities

Jodi B. Dworkin, Reed Larson, David Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

261 Scopus citations


Little theory and research exists on the developmental processes that occur during adolescents' participation in extracurricular and community based-activities. As a step in that direction, we conducted 10 focus groups aimed at getting high school students' descriptions of their "growth experiences" in these activities. The youth reported both personal and interpersonal processes of development. The personal experiences included experimentation and identity work, development of initiative skills such as learning to set goals and manage time, and learning strategies for emotional regulation. The interpersonal experiences included acquiring new peer relationships and knowledge, developing group social skills such as taking responsibility and how to work together as a team, and developing valuable connections to adults. Across domains, adolescents described themselves as the agents of their own development and change. Youth activities appear to be a context in which adolescents are active producers of development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by grants from the W. T. Grant Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH53846). The authors thank Theresa Midle and Jennifer Jones for their hard work transcribing the focus group interviews.

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Adolescence
  • After school activities
  • Emotional regulation
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Growth
  • Identity
  • Initiative
  • Social capital
  • Team work
  • Youth activities


Dive into the research topics of 'Adolescents' Accounts of Growth Experiences in Youth Activities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this