Enhancing Contexts of Adolescent Development: The Role of Community-Based Action Research
Stephen A. Small University of Wisconsin -- Madison
My aims for this chapter are perhaps a bit different from the other chapter authors in this volume. I am interested in understanding how social context can impact adolescent trajectories, as well as how the research process can impact adolescent development. I present a model and program of research on adolescents that I have developed and implemented over the past 5 years in over 140 communities in Wisconsin and around the nation. I demonstrate how this research provides insight into the contexts and processes affecting adolescent development, as well as how the research process can bring about community change and actually impact adolescent development. The chapter is divided into two parts. First, I challenge traditional thinking about how research can and should be conducted, and the relationship between research and action in the area of adolescent development. To do this, I present an evolving model of research on adolescence that I have been developing over the past 5 years. Second, I present some findings that are based on data collected from this program of research. I demonstrate how such data can contribute to our current scientific knowledge base while also leading to actual, lasting impacts in a community.
My role at the University of Wisconsin-Madison involves a significant amount of time devoted to outreach. In addition to my responsibilities as a researcher and on-campus teacher, my role as an extension specialist for the University