Sharing the Stories: Digital Program Evaluation as Youth Work

Sharing the Stories: Digital Program Evaluation as Youth Work

Heather L. Ramey (Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Canada & Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement, Canada & Brock University, Canada), Heather L. Lawford (Bishop's University, Canada & Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement, Canada & Brock University, Canada) and Sharif S. Mahdy (Students Commission of Canada, Canada & Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement, Canada)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2956-0.ch008

Abstract

Digital technologies can provide youth work researchers with the power to conduct large-scale research on processes and outcomes of youth work services. This includes collaborative evaluations across programs, as a way of capturing the story of what happens in youth services, as a form of digital storytelling. Where this collaborative evaluation work is founded in youth-adult partnerships, it is a form of youth work. In this chapter, the authors outline the need for collaborative evaluation in their own context of Canadian youth work, and their experience of collecting digital program data in youth services. They offer a working model for digital youth service evaluation, which places the collective engagement of youth and other partners at its centre. Drawing on the model, they discuss the lessons we have learned in this process. To be successful, digital youth services evaluation requires building relationships and connections across digital space and adherence to youth work principles.
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Sharing The Stories: Digital Program Evaluation As Youth Work

Digital technologies can provide youth work researchers with the power to explore questions about youth work in ways previously not possible. This includes larger-scale research on processes and outcomes of youth work services. Until now, evaluation of youth services in Canada has tended to involve, at best, stand-alone internal individual program evaluation (e.g., Lovell et al., 2016). Collective stories of the impacts of youth work across youth programs have therefore been largely undocumented. Here, digital technology offers new possibilities. Large-scale online evaluations in the form of collaborative evaluation studies can be a way of capturing the story of what happens in youth services, as a form of digital storytelling. As noted by one of our youth partners, this research is a way to legitimize what youth programs do, and to show others that they matter (Maddy Ross, personal communication). Further, where this collaborative evaluation work is founded in youth-adult partnerships, it is a form of youth work.

In this chapter, we outline the need for collaborative evaluation in Canadian youth work, and discuss our own work in collecting digital program data in youth services. We also offer a working model for digital youth service evaluation, which places the collective engagement of youth and other partners at its centre. Drawing on the model, we discuss the lessons we have learned in this process.

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