Technology, Out-of-School Learning, and Human Development

Investigators: Deborah Lowe Vandell, Mark Warschauer

Researchers: Pilar O'Cadiz, Valerie Hall

Funding: C. S. Mott Foundation

This project included both an implementation study of a new community learning center and an examination of youth developmental outcomes in relation to participation in center activities. Our implementation findings indicate that the center succeeded in mounting a high-quality program, as seen in evidence of positive social relationships among youth and between youth and center staff; encouragement of youth exploration of interests and potential career options; development of youths' sense of academic competence and motivation to achieve; promotion of community service and development of youth leadership skills and sense of responsibility to community; youth engagement in interactive and participatory learning; and continuous program improvement.

We also examined changes in youth functioning across the second year of center operation by dosage (measured as number of days attended) and duration (measured as weeks elapsed between the student's first and last days of attendance) of program participation. Analyses of pre- and posttest measures indicated that students who attended the center for 30 or more days across the school year reported receiving better grades at school, better work habits at school, and greater science efficacy compared to program participants who attended fewer days. Self-reports of students who attended the center 10-29 days during the year were roughly the same at pre- and posttest, and students who attended fewer than 10 days reported declines in performance. Similarly, students whose duration of center attendance was 21 or more weeks self-reported large reductions in negative behaviors, whereas durations of 7-20.5 weeks were associated with small reductions in these behaviors. No change was evident in self-reports of negative behaviors among students whose attendance duration was less than 7 weeks.

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