Enriching Intentional Youth Program Experiences Through Preflection, Action, and Reflection

Gary D. Ellis, Darlene Locke, Kaylee Jorgensen, Jingxian Jiang, Montza Williams


We examined effects of preflection, action, and reflection sessions on youth experiences during a 4‑H travel camp. The travel camp was one component of GLOBE, a 2-year Texas 4-H program with intentional goals of advancing understanding of agriculture, poverty, and world cultures. In morning preflection sessions, the 28 youth participants were instructed to take photographs during their day according to themes aligned with 1 of 2 of the program’s goals: building global citizenship and understanding poverty. Each day ended with a reflection session. Youth viewed a slideshow of their themed photographs. After the slideshows, youth completed questionnaires measuring elements of the quality of their subjective experiences during the slideshow: meaningfulness, perceived value of time spent, engagement, absorption, self-affirmation, and provocation. The affirmation preflection, action, and reflection sequence yielded significantly greater meaningfulness and perceived value of time spent. Effects were mediated by immediate subjective experiences of provocation, self-affirmation, absorption, and engagement.


preflection; reflection; experience; intentional programming

Full Text:



Brand, G., Osborne, A., Carroll, M., Carr, S. E., & Etherton-Beer, C. (2016). Do photographs, older adults’ narratives and collaborative dialogue foster anticipatory reflection (“preflection”) in medical students? BMC Medical Education, 16(1), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-016-0802-2

Caldwell, L., Witt, P. & Baldwin, C. (2018). Intentional programming using logic models. In P. Witt & L. Caldwell (Eds.), Youth development: Principles and practices in out-of-school time settings (pp. 279-320). Sagamore-Venture.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1988). The flow experience and its significance for human psychology. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experiences: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness (pp. 15-35). Cambridge University Press.

Dewey, J. (1933). How we think. Dover.

Ellis, G., Jiang, J., Freeman, P. Lacanienta, A., & Ellis, E. (2020). In situ engagement during structured leisure experiences: conceptualization, measurement, and theory testing. Leisure Sciences, published online 21 February, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/01490400.2020.1713938

Ellis, G., Jiang, J., Freeman, P., Lacanienta, A., & Jamal, T. (2020). Leisure as immediate conscious experience: foundations, evaluation, and extension of the theory of structured experiences. Journal of Leisure Research, 51(5), 581-600. https://doi.org/10.1080/00222216.2020.1754735

Ellis, G., Jiang, J., Lacanienta, A., & Carroll, M. (2019). Theming, co-creation, and quality of structured experiences at camp. Journal of Youth Development, 14(1), 230-242.

Ellis, G., Jiang, J., Locke, D., & Snider, C. (2021). Youth program activity impacts: A model of camp activities, psychological needs, and immersion. Children and Youth Services Review, 121, 105842-105842. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105842

Ellis, G., Lacanienta, A., Zanolini, B., Locke, D., Jiang, J. (2020). Mindful learning experiences through structured reflections during a youth travel abroad program. Journal of Youth Development, 15(5), 172-185.

Ellis, G., Lacanienta, A., & Freeman, P. (2018). Reducing attrition from youth programs through structuring deep, valued, and impactful experiences for youth. In P. Witt & L. Caldwell (Eds.), Youth development principles and practices (pp. 351-387). Sagamore-Venture.

Ellis, G. D., Taggart, A. & Martz, J., Lepley, T. & Jamal, T. (2016). Monitoring structured experiences during youth programs: development of brief measures of perceived value and engagement. Journal of Youth Development. 11, 159-174. https://doi.org/10.5195/JYD.2016.469

Falk, D. (1995). Preflection: A strategy for enhancing reflection. Evaluation/Reflection, 22, 12-13.

Felten, P., & Clayton, P., H. (2011). Service‐learning. New directions for teaching and learning, 2011(128), 75-84.

Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford University Press.

Flowers, S., Kelsen, B., & Cvitkovic, B. (2019). Learner autonomy versus guided reflection: How different methodologies affect intercultural development in online intercultural exchange. ReCALL, 31(3), 221-237. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0958344019000016

Freytag, G. (1898). Technique of the drama (2nd ed.). Scott Foresman.

Gardner, L., Magee, C., & Vella, S. (2017). Enjoyment and behavioral intention predict organize youth sport participation and dropout. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 14(11), 861-865.

HighScope Educational Research Foundation (2005). The youth program quality assessment: A research-validated instrument and comprehensive system for accountability, evaluation, program improvement.

Hutchinson, S. & Dattilo, J. (2001). Processing: Possibilities for therapeutic recreation. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 35(1), 43-56.

Ifenthaler, D., & Lehmann, T. (2012). Preactional self-regulation as a tool for successful problem solving and learning. Technology, Instruction, Cognition & Learning, 9(1), 97-110.

Jiang, J., Ellis, G., Ettekal, A., & Nelson, C. (2021). Situational engagement experiences: measurement options and theory testing. Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Association of Collegiate Marketing Educators, online, March 17, 2021.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice Hall.

Kolb, A., & Kolb, D. A. (2009). The learning way: Meta–cognitive aspects of experiential learning. Simulation Gaming, 40, 297–327. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878108325713

Langer, E. J. (2000). Mindful learning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9(6), 220-223. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.00099

Langer, E. J. (2016). The power of mindful learning. (2nd ed.).De Capo Press.

Larsen, D. (2003). Meaningful interpretation. Eastern National.

Luckner, J. L., & Nadler, R. S. (1997). Processing the experience: Strategies to enhance and generalize learning (2nd ed.). Kendall/ Hunt.

McGuire, J. & Doty, V. (2010). Students as practitioners in a service learning context. Michigan Family Review, 14(1), 110-121. http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/mfr.4919087.0014.110

Pine, B. & Gilmore, J. (2020). The experience economy. Harvard Business Review Press.

Priest, S., & Gass, M. A. (1997). Effective leadership in adventure programming. Human Kinetics.

Priest, S. & Naismith, M. (1993). A model for debriefing experiences. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Leadership, 10(3), 20-22.

Reeve, J. (2013). A self-determination theory perspective on student engagement. In S. Christenson, A. Reschly, & C. Wylie (Eds.). Research on student engagement (pp. 149-172). Springer.

Shellenbarger T, Palmer EA, Labant AL, & Kuzneski JL. (2005). Use of faculty reflection to improve teaching. Annual Review of Nursing Education, 3, 343–357.

Sibthorp, J., Paisley, K. & Hill, E. (2003) Intentional programming in wilderness education revisiting its roots. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 74(8), 21-24. https://doi.org/10.1080/07303084.2003.10608497

Sibthorp, J., Wilson, C., Povilaitis, V., & Brown, L. (2020). Active ingredients of learning at summer camp. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education 23, 21-37.

Simpkins Chaput, S., Little, P.M.D., & Weiss, H. (August 2004) Understanding and measuring attendance in out-of-school time programs. Issues and Opportunities in Out-of-School Time Evaluation, 7. https://archive.globalfrp.org/out-of-school-time/publications-resources/understanding-and-measuring-attendance-in-out-of-school-time-programs

Slavich, G. M., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2012). Transformational teaching: Theoretical underpinnings, basic principles, and core methods. Educational Psychology Review, 24(4), 569. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-012-9199-6

Smith, C., Akiva, T., Arrieux, D., & Jones, M. (2006). Improving quality at the point of service. New Directions for Youth Development, 2006(112), 93-108. https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.195

Smith, C. A., Strand, S. E., & Bunting, C. J. (2002). The Influence of challenge course participation on moral and ethical reasoning. Journal of Experiential Education, 25(2), 278-280. https://doi.org/10.1177/105382590202500205

Tilden, F. (1977). Interpreting our heritage (3rd ed.). University of North Carolina Press.

Wallace, S. G. & Michel, D. (2021). The intentional thread, a conversation about courage, hope, good spirit, and peace. Camping Magazine, January-February, 68-72. https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/camping-magazine/intentional-thread-conversation-about-courage-hope-good-spirit-peace

Zeithaml, V. A. (1988). Consumer perceptions of price, quality, and value: A means-ends model and synthesis of evidence. Journal of Marketing, 53(2), 2–22.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2022.1130

Copyright (c) 2022 Gary D Ellis, Darlene Locke, Kaylee Jorgensen, Jingxian Jiang, Montza Williams

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