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.
Bibliographical noteFunding 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.
- After school activities
- Emotional regulation
- Extracurricular activities
- Social capital
- Team work
- Youth activities