From Theory to Practice: A Critical Review of Positive Youth Development Program Frameworks


  • Mary Elizabeth Arnold Oregon State University
  • Ben Silliman North Carolina State University



positive youth development (PYD), PYD frameworks, youth program outcomes


Many positive youth development (PYD) programs are based on a particular PYD framework as a method for describing the program’s intention and expected outcomes. This paper presents a critical review of eight select program frameworks that are commonly used to describe PYD programs. The review reveals considerable variation in the science supporting these frameworks, with corresponding variability in their programmatic application. To account for this variation, the frameworks were grouped into three categories based on the science and context in which they were developed. After a review of the historical and organizational context for the need and use of program frameworks, we present brief reviews of the frameworks, then close by discussing implications for practice, research, and policy.

Author Biography

Mary Elizabeth Arnold, Oregon State University

Professor I 4-H Youth Development Specialist
Program Research and Evaluation
School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences
College of Public Health and Human Sciences
Oregon State University


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