The Many Faces, Features and Outcomes of Youth Engagement


  • Rebecca N. Saito University of Minnesota Extension
  • Theresa K. Sullivan Search Institute



Civic engagement, experiential education, positive youth development, youth leadership, service-learning: what is it about these programmatic models that account for their popularity and impact over decades? What’s at the core, how are they similar and different, and what differential impacts and benefits might various types or forms of youth engagement affect? The lack of consensus on conceptual frameworks and definitions of youth participation and engagement has been identified as one of the issues plaguing the field and restricting progress of youth engagement research and practice (O’Donoghue, Kirshner & McLaughlin, 2002). The authors present a conceptual framework called the Rings of Engagement that captures the myriad ways in which people think about youth engagement. The literature on the benefits and outcomes of each ring or type of youth engagement is highlighted. The authors conclude with recommendations for further research which will guide training, stakeholder-driven communication tools created to garner support, ways to act locally while working at the intermediary level to provide the supports necessary to promote and support youth engagement.






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