Positive Youth Development in the United States: Research Findings on Evaluations of Positive Youth Development Programs. Positive Youth Development Strategies


The original pool of strategies used for the analysis was drawn from a framework developed by Tolan and Guerra (1994). The list was expanded from its original purpose in violence prevention evaluations to encompass techniques or methods linked with forms of positive youth development, health promotion, and competence promotion. This resulted in each intervention being analyzed for 30 possible categories of strategies. These may be generally grouped into two broad categories:  skills focus and environmental/organizational change. Overall, specific strategies that corresponded to social skills or cognitive behavioral skills were represented in the greatest proportions in evaluations of effective positive youth development programs. Twenty-four (96%) of all programs incorporated some skills-based strategies. Leading the category of skills-focused strategies were decision-making and self-management skills (each at 73%), followed by coping skills (62%) and refusal-resistance skills (50%).

One of the most commonly documented forms of environmental strategies was the effort to influence teacher practices in the classroom. Another strategy, the influencing of peer norms and perceptions, was not always described in the report, but many programs met the criteria for this, particularly among the multiple-domain programs.

Again a similar profile was found for the excluded programs; about three fourths of these programs used skill based strategies. Except for the excluded programs with strong designs, it was more difficult to determine how many of these used environmental and organizational strategies. The information was not always available for a meaningful analysis.