Enabling youth participation in school-based computer-supported community development in Canada Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Schools are a main setting for health promotion for youth. A qualitative case study was undertaken in an inner-city, Canadian school. It explored factors that enabled and constrained youth in the process of a school-based computer-supported community development (CD) project. Nineteen grade seven and eight students worked with four adult facilitators for 12 weeks. They completed a community assessment, planned and implemented actions to improve their school environment. Data were collected by: youth and adult interviews, participant observation, content analysis of online postings and two surveys. Constant comparison and triangulation from various data sources and methods were used to verify themes. Themes were categorized as intrinsic or extrinsic enabling and constraining factors. Intrinsic enabling factors were youth' s perceptions that they were making a difference, and feeling recognized for and having ownership of their work. Extrinsic enabling factors included flexibility in youth's choice of activities, supportive adults and community members and the use of incentives. Intrinsic constraining factors were the perceived slow pace of the CD process, and difficulties in getting group consensus/decision-making. Extrinsic constraining factors included: school disruptions and schedules, a lack of 'buy-in' from teachers and parents, and resource demands-people and computers. Relationships between these factors are noted. Research and practice implications regarding school-based CD to promote youth resiliency are discussed.

publication date

  • September 1, 2005