Contribution, Leadership, and Renewal: Centering Youth Voices in Evaluation by Annie Nguyen

Youth evaluation team showing drawingsHello! My name is Annie Nguyen and I am a junior in high school in Saint Paul, MN. I am a part of the Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) evaluation team that uses Youth Participatory Evaluation (YPE) to help us learn about and improve an after school cross-cultural leadership program for teens. This blog is about my experience in evaluation throughout this school year.

Evaluation is something that never really stood out to me as something youth could be involved in. However, I was given an amazing opportunity to be a part of the YPE team through YLI, allowing me to learn about evaluation and different tools I can utilize, such as the YPE Practice Guide. I used to think that evaluation was a scary and boring process, until I was allowed to learn and experience it for myself.

The main topic we focused on was what it means to be a quality youth program. This allowed us to examine the not-so-perfect parts of our program that I wasn’t aware existed. We also got trained into using the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) to evaluate parts of our program that we were interested in. This experience was very valuable to me and allowed me to see evaluation in a more positive light.

The fact that this opportunity was available to me is something I will forever be grateful for. To me, evaluation was something adults did: looking at tiring graphs and data and turning it into pages of boring comments. But this experience showed me otherwise. In our team, I learned evaluation can be fun, and it doesn’t have to be such an exhausting process. We learned how to read data, and we were taught many different ways to acquire feedback. We carried out our own surveys and interviews to obtain data on how other youth in YLI felt and what they wanted to change.

Lesson Learned: Evaluation can be for everyoneThemes & Evakuation (chart paper responses)

Evaluation is something that is not taught in schools and marketed as something young people can do. As a first generation high school student, opportunities like this are not often available to me. However, with the right training and practice, I believe anyone can learn about and utilize evaluation and incorporate it into their daily lives.

Lesson Learned: Youth input is valuable

Especially in youth programs, youth input is required to establish a high-quality program. Involving young people in this process not only allows them to say what’s on their minds, but also helps them to acquire useful lifelong skills they can then bring into the world.

 

“Especially in youth programs, youth input is required to establish a high quality program.

Involving young people in this process not only allows them to say what’s on their minds, but also helps them to acquire useful lifelong skills they can then bring into the world.”

-Annie Nguyen

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Contribution, Leadership, and Renewal Week where a group of Minnesota-based evaluators reflect on the theme of Evaluation 2019, to be held in Minneapolis, MN. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “Contribution, Leadership, and Renewal: Centering Youth Voices in Evaluation by Annie Nguyen”

  1. Hi Annie! Thanks for sharing your perspective. I totally agree that youth input is vital and I’m happy to hear you had such a great experience working on this evaluation project. Keep it up! –Jennifer

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