Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

Positive Youth Development Among Latino/a Youth in a Service Learning Program

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology

First Advisor

Laura R. Johnson

Second Advisor

John Young

Third Advisor

Todd A. Smitherman

Abstract

This study explored the potential of a service-learning program to cultivate positive developmental strengths among Latino/a youth participating in a school-based program in Los Angles County. Youth (N=112) in grades 5–12, who were primarily from low SES backgrounds, participated in an environmental and humanitarian education program, the Jane Goodall Institute's, Roots & Shoots (R&S) program. Three positive youth development (PYD) variables, including civic responsibility, ethnic identity, and connection to nature were assessed before and after participation. Challenges in program implementation and data collection resulted in a small subset of participants that completed measures at the pre and posttest (n = 22). Within this group, no changes from pre to posttest emerged, yet the analysis was underpowered due to the small sample. Within the larger data set, no gender or ethnic differences emerged. All three PYD variables were related. Connection to nature was positively associated with SES and negatively associated with age. Results and implications for future research are discussed, as are issues related to academic-community research collaborations.

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