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Examining the Impacts of Youth Participatory Evaluation Methods on a Youth Participatory Action Research Setting

Project Investigator: Dr. Erica Odera

Program evaluation is a stage where relationships between program stakeholders and values are displayed. Participatory evaluation involves program participants in all stages of an evaluation, and past narrative case study literature has suggested this interaction can change participants’ experiences with a program in beneficial ways. This dissertation tested this proposition empirically through a quasi-experimental design. Specifically, this study sought to understand the impacts of involving young people in a participatory evaluation of a social-justice project entitled Youth as Researchers.


This study randomly assigned half of Youth as Researcher groups to participate in youth- led evaluation activities. Participants in the experiment wrote reflective essays, created their own evaluation questions, and conducted peer interviews. The other half served as control groups. Data collection occurred through pre/posttest surveys and focus groups. This study examined differences among the experimental and control groups at individual, relational, and community/organizational levels. Study results indicate that participants in the experiment had changes at higher levels than participants in the control groups across six areas: self-confidence and skills, personal reflections, social connections to other youth, motivation, youth voice, and community attachment. Implications for future practice and research are explored.

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