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Youth Engagement – A Conceptual


									GROWING THE MODEL                                                                 A CONCEPTUAL MODEL OF YOUTH ENGAGEMENT ...
Have we really got it all? How do we know this
model is correct? What is the model missing?
We don’t know! But as we “grow” the model,
we hope to learn answers to these questions.
Until then, we can add one more bubble to
remind us that the model is a work in

Think of this bubble as the things the model is
missing (and all the things we have yet to

                                                                                                                                                                                            CEYE 2007

    So, i t helps u s se
    how we can add t                                                                                                                                                                                    Youth Engagement – A Conceptual Model
    the model...
                                                                                                                                                                    things are
                                                                                                                                                                                                        The research gathered by The Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement provides evidence that youth are doing
                                                                                                                                                                                                        many more good things than is commonly perceived, that this involvement is good for youth, and finally that youth
                                                                OTHER THOUGHTS ON THE MODEL                                                                                                               participation is much more than "just doing it...." The quality of the engagement, its meaningfulness, matters.

                                                                As we mentioned at the beginning, our model                      ed to everything else – and everything influ-
                                                                is meant to serve as a framework for our
                                                                projects and our research questions.
                                                                                                                                 ences everything else over time …                                      S     till many questions remain. What are the
                                                                                                                                                                                                              most important factors of participation?                        WHAT IS YOUTH ENGAGEMENT?
                                                                                                                                 Check out the large graphic, above, to see                             Why is engagement linked to well-being?
                                                                Engagement may be somewhat different for                         what the model looks like so far.                                                                                       Our working definition:                             WHAT ARE IMPORTANT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           “Youth engagement
                                                                                                                                                                                                        How does the link between involvement and
                                                                every person, for every type of activity, and for                                                                                       positive outcomes change depending upon                                                              ASPECTS OF ENGAGEMENT?
                                                                                                                                 Check out the graphic below for how we are
                                                                every type of outcome. So, we can’t conclude

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           is the meaningful
                                                                                                                                 measuring ourselves.                                                                                                                                                        Engagement experiences are complex and vary
                                                                that this is the only way that “engagement
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             widely in content and quality. They include

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           and sustained
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             both objective pieces (behaviour, structure,
                                                                As we conduct our research, we will be testing                                   MODEL BUILDING?                                                                                                                                             content), and subjective pieces (feeling, think-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           involvement of a
                                                                our model to see if it “fits” with the experi-                                                                                                                                                                                               ing, evaluation). We are interested in identifying
                                                                ences of youth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and measuring a number of potentially impor-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           young person in an
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             tant aspects of engaging experiences.
                                                                We also hope that the model helps people

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           activity focusing
                                                                think about engagement in ways that stimu-                                                                                                                                                                                                 SOME QUALITIES OF ENGAGEMENT
                                                                late questions, result in suggestions, and new

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           outside the self.”
                                                                ideas …                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 SUBJECTIVE PIECES:                  OBJECTIVE PIECES:
                                                                                                                                                                                                        the person, their environment and the activity
                                                                                                                                                      ACTIVITY                                                                                                                                            Feelings about the                  Behaviour doing the
                                                                We do think that the engagement process is                                                                                              they are engaged in? To explore these ques-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         activities – enjoyment,             activities – frequency,
                                                                dynamic and fluid - it changes over time as                                                                                             tions, and others, we have developed a model,                                                       meaningfulness,                   duration, breadth or

                                                                people change and as the world changes.                                                                                                 which serves as a starting point for our                               – Centre of Excellence
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  stress                       diversity, type of
                                                                                                                                                                                                        research projects, and as a way to structure                           for Youth Engagement
                                                                Therefore, the arrows go both ways between                                                                                              and organize our work.                                                                                                                         Structure –
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thinking about                               who youth do
                                                                all the bubbles, so that everything is connect-                                                                                                                                                                                           the activities
                                                                                                                                                                                                        The following information does not reflect our   Youth can become engaged in a wide vari-       – concentration,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     it with, where
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   youth do it, how
                                                                                                                                                                                                        conclusions, but rather our questions and        ety of activities, including sports, music,        learning                                it is organized,

                                  The Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement • 23 Isabella St., Toronto, ON, M4Y 1M7 • Tel: (416) 597-8297,
                                                                                                                                                                                                        ideas. We are “growing” our model as we          community volunteering, helping friends,                                                   who leads the
                                                                                                                                                                                                        collect research findings and learn from our     or political action.                                Evaluation – how good
                                                                                                                                                                                                        experiences!                                                                                      you are, how challenging it is,     Content of activity
 Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement Partners: The Students Commission • Brock University • La Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (FJCF)                                                                                                                                                                                    – focus and goal of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          how important to society, who
 • Youth Launch Saskatoon • Wilfrid Laurier University’s Community Psychology Program • Youth Net / Réseau Ado (YN / RA) The Children’s Hospital of Eastern                                                                                                                                                    controls the activity              the activity
 Ontario (CHEO) • City of Vancouver • St. Mary’s University • University of Regina • First Nations University of Canada

 Funding for the Centres of Excellence for Children’s Well-Being is provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors /
 researchers and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Additional funding for this project provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         w w w. e n g a g e m e n t c e n t r e . c a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To s tay up to date with res earc h, as well as prac t ic al t ools .
4                                                                                                                   CEYE 2007 – Youth Engagement: A Conceptual Model
                           THE MODEL – UNDER CONSTRUCTION...
                           There are many ways to represent youth engagement. Our goal
                           is to start with some key questions that invite others to share                                                   Initiating
                           their own views about engaging youth. Through an ongoing
                                                                      process of inquiry,
                            What w e’re d
                                               o                      discussion, and practice
                                                                        we hope to build our collective
                                                                           knowledge. Let us start the inquiry
                               make a dif ing will
                                                                             with some questions:
           YOUTH                                                                                                                                          n.            ..
        ENGAGEMENT                                                                                                                         Loo
                                                                                                                                               ks like fu

    Part of our model is concerned with           ing process, sustaining factors may be               THE MAIN PARTS OF THE MODEL
    how youth first become involved in an         different for each person and for each
    activity. This initiating process may be      type of activity or engagement.
    different for each person and each
                                                  The sustaining process also may be
                                                                                                   Together, the bubbles capture the main parts of our model:
    type of activity or engagement.
                                                  layered, since a person’s decision to
    We represent initiating process in our        stay involved may be influenced by               •   What initiates or hinders engagement?
    model with a “bubble”, like this …            personal characteristics, other people,              What sustains or discourages engagement?
                                                  and the systems in which the person
                                                  lives and works.                                 •   What are the many different qualities
                                                                                                       of engagement?
                                       fig. 1
    Some of the things that may help                                                               •   What are the potential outcomes?
    youth become involved include:
    1. Individual or “self” factors. These                                          fig. 6
       are characteristics such as values,
                                                  So, in our model, we put in a bubble
       temperament, and interests, and
                                                  called “Sustainers/Barriers” to represent
    2. Social factors. For example, some          the things that affect whether a person
       youth report that they become              stays involved or not. This bubble has
       involved in order to be with their         layers, just like the initiating bubble.
       friends or because a teacher asked
                                                  Think of this bubble as what keeps
                                                  engagement going and what discour-
    We represent these two initiating             ages it – at a personal level, in terms of
    processes as a two-layered bubble. We         relationships with others, and the sys-
    consider that people exist as (1)             tems in which we live and work.
    individuals who (2) have important
                                                  The arrows show that initiating
    relationships with other people ….
                                                  factors may lead to the beginning of
                                                  engagement, and that sustaining factors
                                                  may lead to continued engagement.
           INDIVIDUAL         SOCIAL
                                                                                     fig. 7
                                        fig. 2

    A person’s decision to get involved
    also may be influenced by                                                                                          Arrows are
                                                                                                                      two-way to
    3. Systems. For example, the schools,                                                                            indicate that
       organizations, communities, and                                                                                 factors are
       countries in which he or she lives                                                                             interrelated
       and works.                                                                                                        – they
                                                                                                                     may influence
                                                                                                                      each other.

                                         fig. 3

    We add a third layer to represent
    (3) system processes that may influence
    whether youth become involved or not.

                                                    ENGAGEMENT AND
                                        fig. 4
    Think of the resulting bubble as what         Another question is whether engage-
    gets engagement started or hinders it –       ment leads to positive outcomes.
    at a personal level, in terms of relation-    Outcomes may be layered since
    ships with others, and the systems in         engagement could lead to personal
    which we live and work.                       benefits, as well as improved social
    We can connect the layered bubble             relationships, and even improvements
                                                                                                                                                                                             CEYE 2007

    and the engagement circle with an             in the systems (schools, organizations,
    arrow. The arrow shows that initiating        communities, towns, provinces, coun-
    factors may lead to engagement.               tries) in which we live and work.
                                                                                                   And the layers of each bubble remind us that youth are:            B u t h a ve w e
                                                  So, the connection between engage-
       fig. 5                                                                                          Individuals
                                                  ment and positive outcomes may be                                                                                   really got it
                                                  different for each person, type of activ-            Who have relationships with other people                        ?
                                                  ity, and type of outcome.
                                                                                                       Who live and work in environments and systems

                                                                                                                                        fig. 10

                                                                                    fig. 8
                                                                                               We also need to consider whether
                                                                                               engagement may sometimes lead to
                                                  In our model, we have a bubble for
                                                                                               outcomes that are not so positive –
                                                  “outcomes”. This bubble has layers,
                                                                                               such as frustration or stress.
                                                  just like the other bubbles and indicates
                                                  the potential for both positive out-         Thus, in our model, engagement may
                                                  comes (the left side of the bubble) and      lead to specific outcomes.
                                                  negative outcomes (the right side).
         WHAT SUSTAINS                                                                               ENGAGEMENT
         ENGAGEMENT?                              Think of this bubble as what the
                                                  benefits of engagement may be – at a                DEVELOPS
    Once youth are involved in an activity,       personal level, in terms of relationships    In our model, the factors and process-
    they may decide to keep doing it – or         with others, and the environments we         es that engage youth or prevent them                          fig. 9
    to stop doing it. Similar to the initiat-     live in.                                     from being engaged operate over time.

                                                                                                                                                                                         CEYE 2007

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