The Complexities of Student Engagement for Historically Marginalized Youth in an After-School Program

Ashlee L. Sjogren, Theresa N. Melton


As researchers continue to address issues of equity within educational settings, it is important to also consider the role of equity in high-quality after-school programs. Evidence suggests that families from communities with fewer resources, along with families that identify as Black or Hispanic, report less access to quality after-school programming for their youth (Afterschool Alliance, 2020). This is especially problematic, as after-school programming has been associated with a number of positive outcomes for youth. In this study, researchers highlight youth perspectives to illuminate the challenges related to engaging historically marginalized youth in a school-based after-school program. Findings suggest that youth from marginalized backgrounds typically discuss engagement in terms of behavioral and affective experiences. Further, youth identified a few barriers to engagement, including repetition of program content and disruptive behavior. As a result of these findings, researchers suggest that practitioners integrate youth perspectives, work collaboratively to develop curriculum that fosters growth, and adopt policies and training that support staff in implementing culturally appropriate discipline approaches in after-school programs.


engagement; historically marginalized youth; after-school programs

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