Note: The Youth Development program evaluation team will share tips and resources in YD Update to aid staff in program evaluation efforts. The information will be archived on the staff only web page. Please send any questions or suggestions for future topics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the 4-H Middle School-Aged Youth Learning and Leading Study, we developed a 2-hour activity to help youth discuss the abstract concepts of learning and leading. The purpose of the activity was to better understand learning and leading from the youth's perspective and how 4-H fit into their view of themselves as learners and leaders in their areas of interest.
This activity had two main parts: a poster sticker activity and a focus group discussion. For the poster sticker activity, each youth received a poster where they listed their main areas of interest. Then, under each area of interest youth placed stickers with icons representing aspects of learning and leading as appropriate. Afterward, there was a focus group discussion where youth discussed their perspectives, definitions, and thoughts on learning and leading both in and outside of 4-H.
The findings from this activity showed that youth contribute important information about their own learning and leading if engaged in an age-appropriate manner. The poster sticker activity allowed youth to focus on their own areas of interest, which is naturally engaging. Furthermore, they were challenged to think about how these areas of interest incorporated different aspects of learning and leading. Most importantly, this activity was fun, interesting, and warmed youth up to talk about the complex concepts of learning and leading in the focus group discussion. The questions for the group discussion were intentionally broad to allow youth ample room for discussion. Also, poster paper was used to write ideas and thoughts, which provided a focal point for the discussion that helped youth stay on task.
This method has potential for use in 4-H programs when staff want to encourage youth to reflect on and discuss complex topics. In addition, it can be used for needs assessments, portfolio planning, or incorporating youth perspectives into programming.
Interested? Learn more and try it out! A lesson plan, the template for the poster, the sticker icons, and an example focus group protocol have been uploaded onto Google Drive. We also highlight what worked well with this method, and how to use it or adapt it for your own purposes. You can access it here. Soon, these documents will be uploaded onto the Extension research section of the YD webpages. Please read the instructions file first to answer any questions on downloading, descriptions of documents, or printing.
Have questions? Comment below! Also, feel free to contact Siri Scott (email@example.com) or any program evaluation team member with questions. Stay tuned for the next eval tip where we will share the findings from this study.
Doctoral student in family, youth, and community education