Reflecting on Project Outcomes

Youth reflect on how outcomes of their work provide information that helps build and verify youth skills.

Youth may not believe in themselves, their skills, or the caring of the staff until the end of the project; achieving their goal really proves it to them.

Throughout a program cycle:

  • Youth reflect on the outcomes of their efforts at all stages of the work to identify mistakes and successes, note progress, and identify current challenges.
  • Youth’s sense of self-efficacy, accomplishment, or confidence grows as outcomes demonstrate their developing skills and they critically evaluate how actions influence outcomes.

Outcomes provide feedback on the planning, speculating, anticipating, and scenario building that youth engage in at the beginning of and during their work. Youth learn from authentic outcomes, such as seeing the impact of their work on others, including community members. This can be a moving and transforming experience, something both youth and staff talked about.

Deliberate reflection at the end of a project can be particularly valuable in helping youth discern the processes of cause and effect that shaped their work. Examining mistakes and failures is important to learning.

As highlighted in the PARC method (plan, act, reflect, celebrate), celebrations are a critical piece in highly effective SEL programs. From affirmations that are small acknowledgements of progress made to extensive celebration events, programs make sure to celebrate progress and success.

Quote markWe’re constantly letting them know the positive behaviors that we see. We often check in with the girls about what they are noticing about how each of them is becoming more powerful and more of who they want to be. They reflect to each other. We reflect to them. That’s a big part of how we imagine the culture every week.

For some programs, the public debut of their work is a celebratory finale. Others have midway celebrations. These celebrations serve many functions. Midway celebrations reinforce motivation and build self-efficacy. Highlighting what one did right and building on that is central to strength-based learning and has been shown to promote learning and growth.

The outcomes often instill in the youth a sense of self-efficacy, that when they think and act in strategic ways they are able to effect change.

Further Reading

Join the Discussion

How does your program keep track youth progress over time? How do you show youth that seemingly small victories are big successes in their lives?