Check out our Recent Publications and Publications by Topic Area

Youth Character Development in Outward Bound Study (YCDOB)

The goal of this study is to develop a better understanding of how to support adolescents’ social and emotional learning in Outward Bound, a high-quality youth outdoor adventure education program. During the current phase of the study, we aim to describe and understand how program instructors support learning during the stressful challenges youth participants face on their Outward Bound courses. Findings from the project can contribute to our understanding of positive youth development and be used to improve youth program staff practices.

We have conducted group interviews with 32 youth participants (ages 14-18; 50% female, 59% White) and individual interviews with 51 adult instructors.

Description of the research

Support for the Youth Character Development In Outward Bound Study is provided by The Character Lab.


The Pathways Project (Proyecto Caminos): Youth, Programs, & Parents

This new study is examining how young people learn basic life skills (responsibility, strategic thinking, emotional management, motivation, and teamwork) in youth programs, and how these skills transfer to other parts of their lives. We are interested in how these skills develop over time, how program leaders foster them, and how culture comes into play. The goal is to understand the processes and pathways of youth development in ways that are helpful to youth programs and their staff.

We followed youth (ages 14-19; 40% Latino), staff, and youth’s parents over a full program cycle. Participants completed repeated questionnaires; subsamples were interviewed; and observations conducted. The 14 programs in the research are in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Central Illinois.

Description of the Research    


The Youth Development Experience (TYDE)

This was an in-depth qualitative study of youth in programs conducted in 2001-2005. We collected intensive data from youth, from adult leaders, and from participant observation in 12 high-quality youth programs. The research yielded over 20 publications on how developmental processes occur and what adult leaders do to support them. Different articles address the development of initiative, strategic thinking, responsibility, emotional skills, teamwork, social capital, and motivation, as well as the skills leaders employ to facilitate youth’s development.

Description of the Research  


The Youth Experience Survey (YES)

We surveyed a large 1,900 11th graders from 19 representative high school about their experiences in youth development programs, including extracurricular activities and community-based programs. The findings shows how often adolescents report different categories of developmental experiences across types of programs (e.g., arts, sports, faith-oriented), and as a function of motivation, youth-staff ratio and other factors.

Description of the Research  The Survey Instrument


Support for the Youth Development Research Project is provided by the William T.Grant Foundation

The Youth Development Research Project is located in:

Family Resiliency Center in Doris Kelly Christopher Hall

The Department of Human and Community Development
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
904 W. Nevada St.
Urbana, IL 61801     

Send mail to youthdevillinois@gmail.com with general questions or comments about this website.