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Research and the Award

Alison Berks, International Association of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award

Textnummer: 704300

Erstellt am 2010/12/07, zuletzt geändert am 2011/01/05

Moving towards an evidence-based approach to our work will help us demonstrate the true value and impact of the Award, Alison Berks, Programme Research and Admin Support Officer, explains.

Alison Berks, International Association of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award

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Moving towards an evidence-based approach to our work will help us demonstrate the true value and impact of the Award, Alison Berks, Programme Research and Admin Support Officer, explains.

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At the tenth International Award Forum in Sydney, Australia in 2009, we, as an Association, committed to demonstrating the impact of the Award through empirical evidence. We know from anecdotal evidence and testimonials that the Award has significant and lasting benefits for young people but to date, we have done little to document and analyse the impact.

Conducting research, adopting a more evidence based approach and sharing evidence around the value and impact of the Award will be beneficial for several reasons. Firstly, research can help support our work to promote and raise the profile of the Programme by providing a compelling and concrete case of its value. In the future, research will provide a fact base for conversations with potential donors, partner organisations and other supporters, as well as future Award participants.

Secondly, research can help inform internal processes and planning, and assure the quality of the Programme. It will help us to identify best practice, as well as challenges, future opportunities and areas for potential expansion. It will strengthen the Award’s long-term planning processes, helping us to identify how we can maximise our resources (human and financial), and ultimately improve the Programme for young people.

Thirdly, a more evidence-based approach will help the Award to become a voice of authority in the field of youth development. This will help ensure that the Programme continues to be relevant to young people, meets their needs and requirements, and that increased numbers of young people, whatever their background or circumstances, achieve and benefit from the Award.

 

What research have we done?

Some National Award Authorities (NAAs) have already undertaken research and begun to take a more evidence-based approach to their work. In 2007, the UK Award undertook an extensive quantitative and qualitative research project into the impact of the Award on young people in the country. Spanning two years, the research was funded by The Pears Foundation and conducted by the Centre for Children and Youth at the University of Northampton.

The research showed that the Award has a positive impact on all young people, with the greatest impact being on those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Participants reported that the Programme gave them the chance to do something new and made them more adventurous. It also built their resilience, self-esteem and helped them gain independence.

Young people also felt that the Award gave them the chance to help others and encouraged them to continue volunteering in the future. However, the research identified that participants did not always extend their activities beyond the boundaries of their own established social group. Nor did they understand the impact that their activities can have on their communities.

 

The McKinsey report

In August 2009, the Canadian Award, with the assistance of the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, launched an online survey that was sent to 4,000 current and past Award participants.

The survey collected demographic information to determine the diversity and reach of the Award, as well as the perceived benefits of undertaking the Programme, future activities of participants and the likelihood of young people continuing core aspects of the Award after completing the Programme. The survey, completed by 219 respondents, was promoted through direct email, regional and provincial offices, local leaders, the national website and social networking sites.

Feedback from the survey showed that young people felt they had gained a variety of life skills to prepare them for their adult life, such as interpersonal skills, time management and teamwork. Many agreed that the Award helped them to be more confident, as well as more likely to pursue and achieve future goals. The Service Section of the Award encouraged the majority of respondents to continue volunteering after completing the Programme and increased their interest and continued involvement in community activities.

 

The READY Initiative

In 2003, the South African Award, with the Umhlaba Development Services, conducted qualitative research to evaluate the Reintegration and Diversion for Youth (READY) programme, which aims to assist with the rehabilitation of youth in prisons by giving them the opportunity to undertake the Award.

This study showed that the READY Initiative is a worthwhile programme and promotes the rehabilitation of offenders in South African prison facilities by changing the behaviour of participants and equipping them with skills to lead productive lives. Every participant who was interviewed was positive in their response about the Award. Participating in the Programme made the young people feel that they were being given a second chance, an opportunity to start again and see what they could make of themselves. For many, the community service element of the Award was the most positive. They felt that by being able to help other people, they were being given an opportunity to repay some of the debt they owed to society.

 

Adding value

The value of these research projects is beginning to be felt by the NAAs. The UK Award found that their research provided many useful recommendations and they have since compiled a paper outlining the next steps for the Award and the strategic implementation of the recommendations.

The Canadian Award is also seeing the effects of their research on a local and regional level with some divisions already being awarded grants to fund their operations as a result of the findings. Nationally, they hope to use the research to spread awareness to stakeholders. Rick Ashbee, national director of the Award in Canada, says, “The information that you discover is overwhelming. The data supplies you with concrete statistics about the delivery of the Award and the effect it has on youth.”

In South Africa, the research highlighted some areas for improvement, particularly around the management and administration of the Programme. A list of 12 recommendations was produced, along with a monitoring and evaluation strategy and implementation plan to help improve the initiative. Martin Scholtz, national director of the Award in South Africa, says, “It was a very worthwhile process to be involved in. Even though the focus was on the work in prisons, the outcomes provided by the researchers helped us on an organisational level. We have put many of the recommendations into practice, which has improved our overall organisational systems. It is a very rewarding process.”

 

Next steps

We want to build on and learn from this work and will be working closely with regional directors and NAAs to identify strategic topics for research, commission future research, and develop best practice for this area of our work.

In November 2010, Professor Lucas Meijs at the Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy in Rotterdam and Wim Van der Laan, national director of the Award in the Netherlands, are piloting a research project to look at the impact of the Award on participants. We plan to roll this project out to a number of different countries in due course for a cross-cultural comparison of impact.

Research and an evidence-based approach will help us improve and strengthen the Award, making it ‘Fit for the Future’. In turn, this will create more and better opportunities for young people to benefit from the Award.

Email your thoughts to alison.berks@intaward.org.