Study highlights the importance of adult-youth mentoring relationships in extracurricular activities

Chapin, L. A., Fowler, M. A., & Deans, C. L. (2021). The role of adult facilitators in arts-based extracurricular settings: Perceived factors for success of adult–youth relationships. Journal of Community Psychology, n/a(n/a).

Summarized by Ariel Ervin

Notes of Interest: 

  • Although extracurricular programs are known for fostering supportive relationships between adults and children, little is known about how these mentoring relationships develop, as well as what practices and factors staff members use to promote positive youth outcomes. 
  • This study examines how staff members discern their positions as program facilitators at the Eight Film Club (an arts-based extracurricular program) and how their views can, in turn, fit into existing mentoring models. 
  • Film Club facilitators utilized a collaborative approach to establish genuine mentoring relationships with program youth while promoting socio-emotional learning opportunities and encouraging youths’ agencies.  
  • Relationships in creative extracurricular spaces that have supportive staff members have the potential of producing many positive youth outcomes. 

Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)

Extracurricular arts programmes and supportive adult relationships provide youth with opportunities for positive development, however, more research about how relationships within these programmes develop and what factors and practices adults use to guide their work would help to improve youth programmes’ outcomes. Eight Film Club facilitators at an after‐school film‐making club for students in grades 5 through 8 were interviewed about their perceived their role and what practices they successfully utilised. The semistructured interviews were then thematically analysed. Facilitators perceived the development of authentic and supportive relationships provided a foundation for meaningful learning. Rather than being directive, the facilitators had a collaborative approach to engagement, which allowed for social and emotional learning opportunities and established youth agency. Relationships within creative extracurricular spaces, which are youth‐led and include supportive adult facilitators may provide young people with valuable opportunities for social, emotional and identity development.

Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)

This study explored the process of supporting young people within an alternative learning space, providing a new perspective on the adult–youth relationships developed within arts‐based extracurricular programmes, including the centrality of authentic adult–youth relationships, a collaborative approach and fostering agency. The thematic interaction is shown in Figure 2, in comparison to the findings of Jones and Deutsch (2010) in their observations of an extracurricular activity.

Figure 2 Film Club Facilitators approach to adult–youth relationships within the programme, compared to Jones and Deutsch (2010) model

As can be seen, there is some overlap between the two models. However, the voice of the participants in this study provides more detail on the strategies used by facilitators to enact some of the concepts identified in the earlier literature. In addition, it places more emphasis on the authenticity of the relationship and the focus on positive emotional material in the communication between adult and youth.

Furthermore, the facilitators felt the increased agency observed in children resulted in developmental outcomes similar to those associated with youth socioemotional and identity development (Jones & Deutsch, 2010). Taken together, facilitators in the current study emphasised adult–youth mutuality, which is consistent with models of adult–youth relationships in the literature such as Jones and Deutsch (2010).

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