Youth in Out-of-School Time Programs Voice the Desire for More Youth-Controlled Programs

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The newest issue of the peer-reviewed Afterschool Matters journal, published by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time at the Wellesley Centers for Women, focuses on the importance of youth voices, their opinions, and their choices, including those related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.

Afterschool Matters Journal Spring 2014

Youth are sounding a clear call to action—to make learning experiences and programs more youth-centered and youth-controlled.

The newest edition of Afterschool Matters, the national, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to promoting professionalism, scholarship, and consciousness in the field of afterschool education, focuses on the importance of youth voices, their opinions, and their choices. This issue looks at out-of-school time (OST) programs centered around girls’ interests, boys, high school students, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs.

“Youth are sounding a clear call to action—to make learning experiences and programs more youth-centered and youth-controlled,” said Georgia Hall, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and managing editor of the journal. “This is a challenge for OST professionals and classroom teachers alike. Making space in the daily curriculum or activity schedule for youth to give feedback, make decisions, or take charge can be risky. However, ignoring the research that has established the deep connection between youth voice and engagement in learning can be more risky yet.”

Articles included in the current issue include “How to Build a Robot: Collaborating to Strengthen STEM Programming in a Citywide System,” “Effective Practices for Evaluating STEM Out-of-School Time Programs,” “Cosmic Chemistry: A Proactive Approach to Summer Science for High School Students,” “And Girl Justice for All: Blending Girl-Specific & Youth Development Practices,” “Combat Sports Bloggers, Mad Scientist Poets, and Comic Scriptwriters: Engaging Boys in Writing on Their Own Terms,” and “Hmong High School Students in Afterschool: Effects on Achievement, Behavior, and Self-Esteem.”

Afterschool Matters is part of the Afterschool Matters Initiative and is published two to three times annually by NIOST with support from the Robert Bowne Foundation.The journal serves those involved in developing and managing programs for youth during the out-of-school time hours, in addition to those engaged in research and in shaping youth development policy.

For more than 30 years, NIOST has been dedicated to moving the afterschool field forward through its research, education and training, consultation, and field-building. Much of NIOST’s work has encompassed projects of national scope and influence, several representing “firsts” for the field and many focusing on building out-of-school time systems. NIOST is a program of WCW. Since 1974, scholars at WCW have helped shape a better world through their social science research projects and training programs.

More information about Afterschool Matters, including links to current and past issues of the journal, is available online.

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Donna Tambascio