Date of Award

December 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Edmond P. Bowers

Committee Member

Robert D. Bixler

Committee Member

Mariela Fernandez

Committee Member

Arelis Moore de Peralta


Background and Purpose. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of critical reflection (CR) in promoting positive outcomes in high achieving marginalized youth in an academic-based out-of-school time (OST) context. Marginalized youth face adverse social conditions in the United States and CR is defined as being able to recognize the perceived structural inequalities in a community by using navigational tools that enable a person to analyze their social surrounding, conditions, and circumstances. There is a lack of understanding of how OST programs promote CR in marginalized youth. This paper intends to explore the relation between OST program activities, CR, positive youth development (PYD) and the differing types of contribution (i.e., traditional contribution and critical action) in marginalized youth. This study will examine the characteristics of OST programs based on youths’ report of the perceptions of how helpful and how fun justice oriented activities are. High achieving marginalized youth participated in Boys Hope Girls Hope across six different after-school sites around the United States. Methods. Surveys and semi-structured focus groups were used to collect data. Surveys were analyzed using regression analysis. Focus groups were transcribed and analyzed by researchers using content analysis. Findings. Findings suggest that (a) youth gleaned CR from participating in justice oriented activities (revealed in focus groups), (b) critical reflection predicts PYD in African American youth only when compared to Latinx youth and Latinx youth may need culturally relevant skills to enhance PYD; and, (c) justice oriented perceptions were significantly associated with traditional contribution in youth and when critical reflection was present critical action was stronger in high achieving marginalized youth. Future Research. Future research is necessary to explore the effects of critical reflection in diverse intersections of marginalized youth who are not in an academic-based afterschool program to understand if CR levels would maintain its significance across groups. Additionally, this study supports the idea that researchers should consider CR and individual aspects of the Five Cs of PYD to better inform practitioners who work with marginalized youth and their communities. CR might be best understood by investigating each C component instead of the composite PYD factor. Future considerations has the potential to further develop a quantitative scale that links justice-oriented activities to CR as social justice youth development principles are primarily assessed qualitatively, a quantitative assessment may be useful. Lastly, research should continue to bolster the knowledge of CR and contribution in marginalized youth where practitioners can implement ways that will engender valuable and meaningful connections for the youth in their community.



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