Compassion international Study of Positive Youth Development

Research Study

Compassion International Study of Positive Youth Development

Project Dates

July 2016—Present

Research Team

Pamela Ebstyne King, Co-Investigator

Susan Mangan, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Jennifer Vaughn, Research Assistant

Sean Noe, Student Researcher

Casey Taylor, Student Researcher

External Collaborators

Richard Lerner, Principal Investigator (IARYD, Tufts University)

Jacqueline Lerner, Co-Investigator (Boston College)

Alistair Sim, Co-Investigator (Compassion International)

Elizabeth Dowling, Co-Investigator (IARYD, Tufts University)

Jonathan Tirrell, Co-Investigator (IARYD, Tufts University)

Funded By

This project was made possible through the support of a generous grant by Compassion International and King Philanthropies.

 

Project Overview

The Compassion International (CI)1 Study of Positive Youth Development (PYD) is a collaborative2, multi-nation, comparative longitudinal study of positive youth development among youth in poverty. Drawing on the expertise of the research team, the project draws on cutting edge, theoretically predicated research. Using a mixed methods design , this research examines the relationships between youth strengths and ecological assets to gain an understanding of how youth can thrive and become fulfilled and responsible adults in their communities. Based on the Lerner and Lerner PYD Model, the study considers youth spirituality, hope, internal self regulation, the 5 C’s of PYD (connection, caring, confidence, competence, and character), and contribution. In addition, contextual resources are assessed through safety, activity participation, religious involvement, and the Big 3 of Youth Development Programs (e.g., caring adult relationships, the development of life skills, and opportunities for leadership). Currently, in the context of faith-based CI youth development programs in El Salvador and Rwanda, the research team compares the development of participants in the CI program to youth who are not participating in CI’s programs to identify what works, with what children, in what context, over what time period. 

The study is one of the first longitudinal studies on youth development that does not focus on a deficit or epidemiological model, but is based on the optimistic notions of human plasticity, youth agency, and optimizing the fit between a young person and their context so they can thrive and become citizens who contribute to the world around them. The PYD framework not only emphasizes what can go right with young people, but also considers the role of religion and spirituality as important motivational and moral resources accessible to many youth in international settings that promote prosocial and civic engagement. Results from this study will be used to enhance the work of CI and improve the global child-sponsorship sector through never-before available theory-predicated developmental data.


Endnotes

1. Compassion International is a Christ-centered, child-sponsorship organization that partners with over 7,000 churches to support and promote thriving in over 1.8 million youth living in poverty in 25 countries located in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia.

2. The Thrive Center has partnered with Tufts University’s Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development (IARYD) and Boston College for this project.

Related Publications

Interrogating Ergodicity & Specificity in Youth Development Programs

The CI research team look at instances of commonality and specificity in Salvadoran youth enrolled in CI programs.

MDAS & Refined Findings from Mexican & Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team test the MDAS scale across 2 samples, and share implications for future research.

Exploring Religiousness & Hope Among Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team test whether religiousness is related to hopeful future expectations.

The Big 3 Components of PYD Programs in Rwanda

The CI research team report on the data collected from Rwandan participants to assess the traits of effective PYD programs.

Evaluating the MDAS in Mexican & Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team apply the MDAS to indicate the extent to which spirituality was integrated into the lives of youth.

Illuminating the Use of the Specificity Principle

The CI research team explore the use of the specificity principle in future assessments of Sustainable Development Goal indicators.

End of the Beginning: Studying PYD in a Global Context

The CI research team review and discuss the use PYD models in global settings, particularly among impoverished youth.

Measuring Spirituality, Hope & Thriving Among Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team compare youth enrolled in CI to youth not enrolled in CI, examining spirituality, hope, and PYD.

Selected Presentations

King, P. S. (September 2017). Igniting youth to thrive. Plenary at Compassion International’s Global Council Meeting, Colorado Springs, CO.

King, P. E., Tirrell, J. M., Aymong, C. C., Weiner, M. B., Lloyd, C. R., Vaughn, J. M., & Lerner, J. V. (October 2017), Spirituality and hopeful future expectations: Measuring spiritual development in El Salvadorian Youth. Poster presented at the 10th Biennial Meeting of the Society for the Study of Human Development, Providence: RI.

King, P. E. & Vaughn, J. L. (April 2018). Living on purpose: Adult support of spiritual purposes. Paper at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Minneapolis, MN

King, P. E. (April 2018). Future directions of the study of religious and spiritual development. Discussant for paper symposium at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Minneapolis, MN.

King, P. E., Vaughn, J. M., Yoo, Y., Tirrell, J., Lerner, R., Dowling, E., …Sim, A. (May 2018). The role of personal, social, and transcendent resources in religion for Salvadoran youth. Paper presented at Travis Research Institute Research Colloquium, Pasadena, CA.

King, P. E., Loya, J., Yoo, Y., Tirrell, J. M., Geldhof, G. J., Dowling E., Lerner, J. V., & Lerner, R. M. (August 2018). Religious attendance, relational spirituality, hope, & positive development in El Salvadorian youth. Paper Symposium at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, San Francisco, CA.

Yoo, Y., & King, P. E. (October 2018). Further Testing of the Measurement of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality (MDAS) in the United States and Mexico youth. Poster presentation at Special Topic Meetings at the Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia, PA.

King, P. E., Yoo, Y., Tirrell, J. M., Geldhof, G. J., Iraheta, G., William, K., Sim, A., Stephenson, P., Dowling E., Lerner, R. M., & Lerner, J. V. (October 2018). Measure of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality in Mexican & Salvadoran Youth: Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Measurement Invariance. Paper Symposium at Special Topic Meetings at the Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia, PA.

King, P. E. (February 2019). Grace: To infinity and beyond. A response to Dr. Peter Hill on “Grace as Religiously Inflected Experience.” Integration Lecture, School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

Vaugh, J. M., Yoo, Y., King, P. E., Tirrell, J. M., Dowling, E., Lerner, R. M., Lerner, J. V., Iraheta, G., Williams, K., & Sim, A. (March 2019). Profiles of Youth Strengths and PYD Outcomes for Salvadoran Youth. Paper at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development. Baltimore, MD.

King, P. E. (March 2019). Excavating Religion. Discussant for Paper Symposium: Religiosity as a Multifaceted Resource for Positive Youth Development among Diverse Youth at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development. Baltimore, MD.

King, P. E., Vaughn, J. M., Yoo, Y., Tirrell, J. M., Geldhof, G. J., Iraheta, G., Williams, K., Sim, A., Dowling, E., Lerner, R. M., & Lerner, J. V. (March 2019). Exploring Ecological Assets and Personal Strengths Among Salvadoran Youth: The Complex Relationship between Religion and Hope. Paper at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development. Baltimore, MD.

King, P. E. (April 2019). Reciprocating spirituality: Where are we in the process. Invited address at the Ninth SRCD preconference on child and adolescent spiritual and religious development, Austin, TX.

Media Coverage

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COMpassion International Wins SRA 2020 Biennial Meeting Award

Compassion International was named as the co-recipient of the 2020 Organizational Award for Excellence in Research & Programming for Youth.