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Youth Engagement and Quality of Experience in Afterschool Programs
By David J. Shernoff and Deborah Lowe Vandell
Research on middle school participants’ engagement in afterschool programs shows that such programs often serve as developmental contexts for promoting “flow” experiences. Compared to when they are in other settings after school, participants in afterschool programs are more likely to experience high concentrated effort and intrinsic motivation, experiences consistent with Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow. Organized sports, arts enrichment, and academic enrichment activities were found to be particularly engaging program activities, in contrast to homework completion. The importance of high levels of engagement in promoting learning in afterschool programs leads to implications for practice and policy. 14 pages.

Bringing in the Community: Partnerships and Quality Assurance in 21st Century Community Learning Centers
By Charles Smith and Laurie Van Egeren
As a matter of policy, 21st Century Community Learning Centers rely heavily on community organizations to provide a variety of instructional programs. In this way, 21st Century sites tap the depth and breadth of knowledge available in their communities to provide non-traditional learning experiences that can better meet young participants’ need for engagement and relevance than can a simple extension of school-day routine. However, the inclusion of multiple partners along with school-based site staff at any given 21st Century site means that the quality of instruction can be extremely uneven. How do school districts that receive 21st Century grants, and the coordinators of each of their sites, ensure high quality across a wide variety of offerings led by staff from many different organizations? 19 pages.

Publication Date

Fall 2008


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Afterschool Matters Occasional Paper Fall 2008