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Showing posts from December, 2013

Why does everyone ask, "Are you satisfied?"

If you are like me, you are often asked to rate your level of satisfaction with quality -- at the doctor's office, at restaurants, at the service station, while shopping online. This practice takes extra time and resources both on the part of the provider AND on the part of the participant.

So why do so many businesses and organizations want to know our opinions about their service, product or program?

The answer is deceptively simple. High satisfaction is a key sign that program participants will continue their participation in the program.

As youth development professionals, we understand that program retention increases the chances that young people will reap the benefits - also known as program outcomes - from a high-quality program.

So, a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation approach for a youth development program has, at its foundation, a system for measuring participant satisfaction. In the case of youth programs, Caller, Betts, Carter & Marczak outlined three group…

Learning in place: Thoughts about place-based education

What difference does it make where a child is, when he is learning?


Last year I had the opportunity to bring David Sobel of the Center for Place-based Education at Antioch College New England in New Hampshire to my children's K-8 school for a staff development workshop and public forum on placed-based education (PBE). What I learned from Sobel got me thinking about three things:


What are the benefits of learning in place to its multiple stakeholders? Can youth out-of-school time programs make use of the principles of PBE?Do diverse youth have equal access to PBE? According to Promise of Place, a public-private partnership in Vermont, PBE has its roots in environmental education, community development and service learning. PBE:
Immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiencesUses these as a foundation for the interdisciplinary study of language arts, math, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum; andEmphasizes learning …

Adventures in social and emotional learning

The Voyageur Outward Bound School is an example of a program that fosters social and emotional learning (SEL). After our recent SEL symposium, I spoke with Poppy Potter, the director of operations and master educator at VOBS, a program that works to bring out these skills in young people.

KATE WALKER: Tell me about the Voyageur Outward Bound School.
POPPY POTTER: Our mission is to change lives through challenge and discovery. We use experiential programs to impact our students' lives. Whether a 28-day canoe expedition, or a High Ropes Insight Program, our programs are designed to demonstrate to our students that "they can do more than they ever thought possible." Our founder Kurt Hahn talked about teaching "through" rather than "for" and this philosophy is still present in all of our courses today.

KW: What are the program's goals? What SEL competencies or skills does your program develop?

PP: We hope our students look back on their course and discove…