Youth development in a community technology center: Negotiation of “off-the-record-learning” with technology
Deborah Y. Kim, Stanford University, United States
Stanford University . Awarded
This dissertation is a study of how learning and development goals are organized within a community technology center (CTC) for youth called Teen TechArts. It describes the developmental processes made available to youth through opportunities to participate in activities involving the use of multimedia technology. Taking a sociocultural approach and using ethnographic methods, the activity setting, participation structures, and cultural tools of Teen TechArts were examined for the kinds of opportunities they provided youth to engage in activities that promote healthy development in an increasingly technology-driven society. This study explored how and why three features of the environment developed: (a) opportunities to feel a sense of safety, (b) opportunities for belonging, and (c) opportunities for skill building (learning and development). Each of these features evolved through day-to-day interactions within a CTC; they were not predetermined and stable aspects of the youth program. In particular, this study looks at how the development of young people who participated in Teen TechArts was related to the construction and maintenance of these features over time. Through triangulation of field notes, interviews, and participant observations, it was found that these features were not rigid aspects of the environment established solely by adult leaders, but rather located within the activities youth participated in, practices negotiated jointly by adults and youth in, opportunities to take on new roles and responsibilities, and freedom to identify with technology in a personal manner. Youth development within the context of the CTC was found to be a dynamic, emergent, and messy process inherently linked to the construction and maintenance of the features of the space. Major implications of this study include re-examining and reconsidering current research on contexts for learning and youth development. The findings from this study present opportunities for further research by developmental psychologists, education and youth development researchers, and methodologists from the sociocultural perspective regarding the role technology can play in mediating learning and development. In addition, Teen TechArts demonstrates that not only are CTCs embodying principles of youth development programs, but they also provide opportunities for authentic use of computers by youth.
Kim, D.Y. Youth development in a community technology center: Negotiation of “off-the-record-learning” with technology. Ph.D. thesis, Stanford University.
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