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Practitioners’ Use of Research in Decision Making about Organized Out-of-School Time Programs Serving Adolescents

Joseph L. Mahoney

Abstract


Abstract

Research shows that adolescent participation in organized out-of-school time (OST) programs (e.g., after-school programs) is linked to positive developmental outcomes. However, whether OST program practitioners use this research to inform their decision making is unclear. Therefore, a scienceto- practice gap may exist in OST programs. To assess the use of research, 21 OST program directors from the United States were interviewed. Directors identified the components of their programs (i.e., goals and activities) and rationales for choosing each component. Direct questions about the use of research in making program decisions were asked. Findings revealed that use of empirical research was seldom mentioned. Practitioners referred to research in other terms including attending trainings, online searches, and learning from other programs. This suggests there is a science-to-practice gap in OST programs, but also points to several ways that researcher-practitioner partnerships may narrow the gap.

Keywords: out-of-school time, after-school programs, adolescence, decision making, use of research

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Bibliography: Mahoney, Joseph L.: Practitioners’ Use of Research in Decision Making about Organized Out-of-School Time Programs Serving Adolescents, IJREE, Vol. 4, Issue 2-2016, pp. 34-55.
https://doi.org/10.3224/ijree.v4i2.25780


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