Qualitative and Quantitative Assessments of Thriving and Contribution in Early Adolescence: Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development


  • Amy Eva Alberts Tufts University
  • Elise DiDenti Christiansen Boston College
  • Paul Chase Tufts University
  • Sophie Naudeau Tufts University
  • Erin Phelps Tufts University
  • Richard M. Lerner Tufts University




Thriving, Early Adolescence, Contribution, Qualitative Assessment, Qualitative-Quantitative Triangulation, Parent-Youth-Practitioner Comparison, Positive Youth Development.


Research and practice in youth development converge in an interest in positive development, or thriving. They converge also in seeking to promote among youth an orientation to act in support of their own and others’ well-being through contributions to self, family, and community. Based on the results of both qualitative (open and axial coding of parents’ and students’ answers to several open-ended questions) and quantitative analyses of data from Wave 2 (Sixth Grade; 2003-2004) of the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (PYD), we found that adolescents and parents define a thriving youth in different ways and, as well, that the groups differ in the salience of contribution as part of their respective conceptions of thriving. We discuss the implications for research and practice of the two generational groups’ contrasting views of thriving and contribution.






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