Youth Work Matters: Online Professional Development for Youth Workers

Kari Robideau, Karyn Santl


As the field of youth development becomes more recognized as a profession, it is imperative that youth workers are trained in foundational youth development research and practice. However, accessibility and cost can limit participation in face-to-face workshops and conferences. Online, cohort-based courses are a viable method to offer professional development for youth workers. This program article provides an overview of the online course, Youth Work Matters, which has provided training to youth workers for over 10 years. The authors demonstrate that professional development for youth workers in an online setting will increase access to learning opportunities. This article also describes key components for an online, non-credit course for participants to gain knowledge, apply new concepts and participate in learning communities.


cohort based learning; youth workers; professional development; positive youth development; non-credit adult learners

Full Text:



Baizerman, M., & VeLure Roholt, R. (2016) Youth worker professional development: Moving from practicing the symbolic to working substantively. In K. M. Pozzoboni & B. Kirshner (Eds.), The Changing Landscape of Youth Work : Theory and Practice for an Evolving Field (pp 51-67). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Borden, L., Craig, D., & Villarruel, F. (2004) Professionalizing youth development: The role of higher education. New Directions for Youth Development, 104, 75-85.

Briegel, M. (2017) Re-thinking professional development of child and youth care practitioners. Relational Child & Youth Care Practice, 30(3), 10-24.

Brion-Meisels, G., Savitz-Romer, M., & Vasudevan, D. S. (2016). Not anyone can do this work: Preparing youth workers in a graduate school of education. In K. M. Pozzoboni & B. Kirshner (Eds.), The changing landscape of youth work : Theory and practice for an evolving field (pp. 71-90). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Denissen Cunnien, K. (2017) Investing in youth work: Learning from complexity. Journal of Youth Development, 12(1), 60-71.

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013) Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism: Connecting “yesterday’s” theories to today’s contexts. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2). 43-71.

Garst, B., Weston, K., Bowers, E. & Quinn, W. (2019). Fostering youth leader credibility: Professional, organization, and community impacts associated with completion of an online master's degree in youth development leadership. Children and Youth Services Review, 96, 1-9.

Knowles, M. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy. Wilton, CT: Association Press.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Mahoney, J., & Warner, G. (2014). Issue editors’ notes. New Directions for Youth Development, 144, 1-10.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. Policy and Program Studies Service.

Pittman, K. (2004) Reflections on the road not (yet) taken: How a centralized public strategy can help youth work focus on youth. New Directions for Youth Development, 104, 87-99.

Vance, F. (2012). An emerging model of knowledge for youth development professionals. Journal of Youth Development, 7(1), 35-55.

Vu, P., Cao, V., Vu, L., & Cepero, J. (2014). Factors driving learner success in online professional development. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(3).


Copyright (c) 2020 Kari Robideau, Karyn Santl

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.