Title

Engagement, environment, and skill development: An exploration of the summer activity experiences of at-risk middle school youth

Start Time

6-10-2012 9:05 AM

End Time

6-10-2012 9:35 AM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

Statement of purpose: This study addresses the impact of a summer camp experience on at-risk middle school students. The research questions addressed the impact of participation on social/emotional skill development and the aspects of the environment and occupations that supported social/emotional skill development.

Description of methods/participants/data collection/analysis: A multi-phased, sequential mixed methods study was conducted. The quantitative data included administration of the Camper Growth Index (CGI) (Henderson, et al, 2006) developed by the American Camp Association to assess skill development and outcomes following a positive youth development framework. It was administered to 19 campers and 25 controls prior to summer camp, within one month after camp, and six months after that. Data were subject to analysis using SPSS version 19 and included descriptive statistics of central tendency, t-tests for dependent samples, and the Mann-Whitney U test for ordinal data to compare differences between the camper and control groups’ post-summer experiences.

The qualitative portion of the study followed initial analysis of quantitative data, and served to triangulate and provide additional understanding of the summer activity experiences of both groups. It included individual in-depth interviews with three youth from the control group and two campers to further explore their perceptions of how their engagement in summer activities affected them, as well as to discuss the activities and environments in which engagement occurred. Open-ended questions were constructed based on general categories of expected camp outcome and consistency with participant stage of development and the positive youth development framework. Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. They were subject to independent initial coding by the interviewer and the primary investigator. Then, transcripts were jointly reviewed and follow up interviews were conducted with each participant to encourage them to expand on their responses. Again, each of these transcripts was reviewed independently by the two researchers and then jointly to attain consensus of findings.

Results: Preliminary quantitative results indicate that both groups made statistically significant change over the course of the summer, but on different measures. The qualitative study is exploring the summer activity experiences and environments to further understand and interpret the quantitative findings.

Relationship to OS: Law identifies characteristics of participation that include opportunities to exercise choice, and a fit between the demands of a task, a supportive environment and the skill level of the participant to improve mastery ( 2002). According to Knowles (2009) the geographical world tends to expand and opportunities to improve competence present when a variety of environments are available for participation. For youth in at-risk environments, opportunities to develop key skill competencies are reduced due to a variety of barriers, such as geographic isolation and the multiple effects of generational poverty (Whiteford, 2010). It is important for occupational therapists to understand key characteristics of environments and activity approaches to facilitate engagement and promote participation of youth that enables critical skill development.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss research methods relative to the population and purpose
  2. Discuss findings relative to activity characteristics and life skill development?
  3. Discuss findings relative to aspects of the environment and life skill development?

References

Henderson, K.A., Thurber, C. A., Whitaker, L. S., Bialeschki, M. D., & Scanlin, M. M. (2006). Development and application of a Camper Growth Index for youth. Journal of Experiential Education, 29(1), 1-17.

Whiteford, G. (2010). Occupational deprivation: Understanding limited participation. In C. H. Christiansen & E. A. Townsend (Eds.), Introduction to occupation: The art and science of living (2nd ed., pp. 303-328). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Petrenchik, T. & King, G. (2011). Pathways to positive development: Childhood participation in everyday places and activities. In S. Bazyk (Ed.), Mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention with children and youth: A guiding framework for occupational therapy (pp. 71-94). Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.

Law, M. (2002). Participation in the occupation of everyday life. AJOT, 56(6), 640-49. http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.56.6.640

Knowles, G.D. (2009). The meaning of place. In (Eds.), Willard & Spackman’s occupational therapy (11th ed., pp. 80-96). Baltimore: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

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Research paper

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Oct 6th, 9:05 AM Oct 6th, 9:35 AM

Engagement, environment, and skill development: An exploration of the summer activity experiences of at-risk middle school youth

Statement of purpose: This study addresses the impact of a summer camp experience on at-risk middle school students. The research questions addressed the impact of participation on social/emotional skill development and the aspects of the environment and occupations that supported social/emotional skill development.

Description of methods/participants/data collection/analysis: A multi-phased, sequential mixed methods study was conducted. The quantitative data included administration of the Camper Growth Index (CGI) (Henderson, et al, 2006) developed by the American Camp Association to assess skill development and outcomes following a positive youth development framework. It was administered to 19 campers and 25 controls prior to summer camp, within one month after camp, and six months after that. Data were subject to analysis using SPSS version 19 and included descriptive statistics of central tendency, t-tests for dependent samples, and the Mann-Whitney U test for ordinal data to compare differences between the camper and control groups’ post-summer experiences.

The qualitative portion of the study followed initial analysis of quantitative data, and served to triangulate and provide additional understanding of the summer activity experiences of both groups. It included individual in-depth interviews with three youth from the control group and two campers to further explore their perceptions of how their engagement in summer activities affected them, as well as to discuss the activities and environments in which engagement occurred. Open-ended questions were constructed based on general categories of expected camp outcome and consistency with participant stage of development and the positive youth development framework. Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. They were subject to independent initial coding by the interviewer and the primary investigator. Then, transcripts were jointly reviewed and follow up interviews were conducted with each participant to encourage them to expand on their responses. Again, each of these transcripts was reviewed independently by the two researchers and then jointly to attain consensus of findings.

Results: Preliminary quantitative results indicate that both groups made statistically significant change over the course of the summer, but on different measures. The qualitative study is exploring the summer activity experiences and environments to further understand and interpret the quantitative findings.

Relationship to OS: Law identifies characteristics of participation that include opportunities to exercise choice, and a fit between the demands of a task, a supportive environment and the skill level of the participant to improve mastery ( 2002). According to Knowles (2009) the geographical world tends to expand and opportunities to improve competence present when a variety of environments are available for participation. For youth in at-risk environments, opportunities to develop key skill competencies are reduced due to a variety of barriers, such as geographic isolation and the multiple effects of generational poverty (Whiteford, 2010). It is important for occupational therapists to understand key characteristics of environments and activity approaches to facilitate engagement and promote participation of youth that enables critical skill development.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss research methods relative to the population and purpose
  2. Discuss findings relative to activity characteristics and life skill development?
  3. Discuss findings relative to aspects of the environment and life skill development?