“We are defined by the stories we live and the stories we tell,” said Father Canady during Holy Week to illustrate that the good around us needs to be shared. To answer the adolescent yearning to make a difference in their community (and the greater world society), how can youth volunteers be relevant in professional communication to expand their reach of influence? Increasing communication skills among youth will allow civic awareness of their efforts by sharing of their stories. This will double their actions by the influence they have over others as well as their personal gains in their actions. The goal of this research is to: establish recommendations for youth communications, assist in a critical reflection of their efforts and reciprocal benefits to them and their community, and assessment of outcomes.
Many examples of volunteer action and adult communication and interactions exist among the scouting communities. During 2005, Boy Scouts of America recorded more than 280 million hours of service to their communities as reported in their annual report. How many additional hours of Boys and Girls Clubs, Girl Scouts, faith communities and other volunteer hours by youth are uncalculated? A 2007 study by the Corporation for National and Community Services states that research “indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social benefits” in addition to positive feelings by the volunteer, increased trust in others, and increased social and political participation.
This research proposal seeks to focus on youth volunteering efforts and how they tell their personal stories. Adolescents, even more than adults, are motivated by the subjective value of peer opinion and act on immediately available rewards (Albert Chein & Steinberg, 2013). Therefore if youth communicate their positive experiences while volunteering this will increase the probability of other youth engaging in volunteering.
In 2005, 67.9 percent of U.S. teenagers volunteered for short-duration projects. (Grimm Spring & Dietz 2006). These youth are more likely to vote and are part of a “historic level of community engagement.” But more involvement could be gained if there was more of an effort to quantify and tell the story of the volunteer, thereby influencing peers to volunteer. Even involuntary volunteering by youth has a positive outcome. The positive personal outcomes of greater educational achievement, civic engagement and greater earnings in young adulthood have been documented by Kim and Morgul (2017).
There is a deep gap between the knowledge and skills that most teens have learned in school and the communication skills needed to tell their individual volunteer story. Technical communication knowledge is one component where students can evaluate their current efforts and significantly increase their effectiveness and retain these important skills for their lifetime (Aita, K et al.2015).
Obradovi and Masten (2007) observed the development of civic engagement in adolescence assisted in continued growth in adulthood. They examined involvement in extracurricular activities and the growth in solidarity, tolerance, and intergroup understanding. Examining technical communication efforts by engaged youth in community volunteering will provide the youth with tools for engaged citizenship. Professional communication skills are vital to empower the youth and to engage the community as to their efforts.
But at the same time that communities engage youth, they are not published in newspapers or seen as reliable storytellers. This document seeks to determine how students, themselves, evaluate their knowledge, skills, and values, appropriate for their future as communicators and there perceived importance in their future careers and adult life. This research proposal would include community awareness, communication skills, and civic engagement. The research knowledge gained would be relevant to the study subjects (youth volunteers) and those who benefit from their efforts. This research would provide data on strategies for youth to communicate their journey and efforts which will encourage and inspire others.
Youth volunteers need an understanding of their value and the importance of the components of their efforts and abilities donated to help others. Therefore I propose the following questions:
1). How does technical communication assist in communicating among youth volunteers?
2). How should communication skills and knowledge be developed further compared to their current situation?
This warrants study as it assists in facilitating community involvement of others and leads to the personal development of the youth, creating a more engaged citizen.
The relationship between volunteering reporting and public perception of youth involvement defines the relationship of the volunteer to their community and the community’s attitude toward their efforts. Review of volunteer efforts is often described by adults only. This results in a lack of reporting on youth volunteer activities and thereby their stories are not told as first-person experiences. If these stories were communicated in effective professional communication by the youth volunteer other youth may be encouraged by their stories. Much existing literature focuses on adults and their interaction with youth volunteers, but not by the youth themselves.
The academic fields of sociology, philosophy, and psychology have examined best practices for adult communication practice as a knowledge base for storytelling for the youth volunteer. While these provide examples of the adult volunteer leader to youth, there is a lack of strategy for the youth to communicate their journey and this undermines their efforts to encourage and inspire others. These youth need best practices for communication, time management, expectations, and the importance of respecting diversity within their own communication realm.
This proposal focuses on the volunteer interaction with the greater community and the effect on community and peers. The gap in the literature that this proposed research to addresses is the lack of training of youth volunteers to tell their stories with an effective communication strategy. With this data collection of a limited defined youth population, I hope to shed a bit of light within a broad experience of youth volunteers.
The purpose of this research study is to examine the relationship of youth volunteer experience to instruct best practices for story-telling. This communication analysis of youth volunteers will consist of gathered data from an interview with a survey of youth volunteers.
The volunteer must have participated in at least 8 hours of work. The response to the following interview survey is to be analyzed to find the central points of interaction and to answer:
Objective 1) what platforms of communication to the volunteers find useful?
Objective 2) does the volunteer appreciate the motivational interaction with others in their communication?
Objective 3) What vehicles of technical communication assist communication among youth volunteers?
Objective 4) How should communication skills and knowledge be developed further compared to their current situation?
This study attempts to define issues within the online environment. The primary objective is to determine key elements that online learners have experienced within negative comments and lead them to positive outcomes. These findings, associations, and recommendations for teaching practices and future research will be examined in a later research paper.
Methods of Survey
In order to conduct research on this topic, this study will be conducted by an interview survey of youth volunteers from Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
The study population includes:
Youth that has volunteered a minimum of 8 hours
Survey in the southeastern region
Physical location: Greenville, N.C.
In this study, the issues pertaining to national origin, race, citizenship status, and religion were not considered due to the limitations of the analysis. Other geographic limitations excluded international (outside the US) and intentional socioeconomic diversity.
The methodology will be by an interview using the survey below. Information will be gathered on a stratified group of youth volunteer participants. The survey instrument will consist of 10 items and will assess the communication preferences and perceptions of students with a 9-point Likert scale, binary qualifiers, and fill in the blank. Details of if personal stories, preferences, and perceptions will be collected from the representative group in their submissions of self-reported data without any identifying data.
These elements will be included in the interview survey of youth volunteers:
Are you currently / or have you volunteered for more than 8 hours? _ Yes _ No
Do you post about your experience on social media? _ Yes _ No
If yes, which social media platforms? _ Instagram _ Facebook _ Twitter _Snap Chat
Did you post a photo? _ Yes _ No
Did you write about your experience in a public forum?
__ newsletter __ newspaper __ group email __ other publication
Did you write about your experience in a private forum?
__ email __ text __ other correspondence
Approximately how long was your comment
__ less than 3 words __ less than 10 words __ 2 sentences or less __ more than 3 sentences
Rate how you feel the recipients reacted to your writing and/or photo?
Positive indifferent negative
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Do you think you have motivated others to volunteer?
How would you have changed your writing to motivate others to volunteer?
Other info: ___________________________________________________
The responses for the questions on volunteer interaction will be gathered and input into a spreadsheet. This data and correlation to the topical questions will be graphically represented. This graphic display will be the product of a statistical analysis of the student responses.
Methods of Avoiding or Reducing Participant Risk
Participation in the interview survey will be voluntary and no identifying information will be collected other than age. If identifying information revealed it will be kept confidential. Another adult will be present, and a parent must give verbal consent. All participants will be made aware of the need for privacy of personally identifiable information.
Methods of Managing Data
The responses for the questions will be gathered on a computer tablet and input into a spreadsheet. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected in the spreadsheet. This data and correlation to the topical questions will be graphically represented. This graphic display will be the product of a statistical analysis of the responses.
Youth interaction is meaningful to understanding their role in their communities and their relevance in the world. Different institutions have diverse goals as varied as the youth seeking to make a difference in their community. Professional communication can expand their reach of influence and communities will gain an awareness of civic youth efforts by sharing their stories. They will affect others as well as expand their personal gains in their actions.
Youth can be encouraged to give tell respectful and meaningful stories that further the cause of the agency that they are volunteering with. This proposed research will lead to new strategies and help evaluate existing communication avenues to encourage meaningful engaging interaction.
The importance of sharing youth volunteering by story-telling and the public perception of their efforts will promote volunteerism and motivate others to become involved in their communities. It is my hope that with this information, an important catalyst would be demonstrated to encourage an increase in technical communication among youth volunteers. I would offer that the impact would be not only to the volunteers and participants but also facilitate actual change in volunteer’s behavior and communication. By modeling their interaction with the world others will join and build a better world.
Boy Scouts of America, (2016). Annual Report, A look at 2016 and the strides we took in shaping the lives of America’s youth. https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/annualreport/2016/2016_annualreport.pdf
Grimm, R. Spring, K. & Dietz, N. (2007). The Health Benefit of Volunteering. https://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf
Canady, P. (2019). Easter Sermon. April 21, in New Bern, North Carolina.
Aita, K. Rannikmäe, M. Soobard, R. Reiskab, P. Holbrook, J. (2015). Students’ Self-Efficacy and Values Based on A 21st Century Vision of Scientific Literacy – A Pilot Study. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 177, 491 – 495.
Albert D., Chein J., Steinberg L. (2013). Peer Influences on adolescent decision making. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 22, 114–120.
Obradovi, J. & Masten A. (2007). Developmental Antecedents of Young Adult Civic Engagement. Applied Developmental Science, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2–19.
Kim, J. & Morgul, K. (2017). Long-Term Consequences of Youth Volunteering: Voluntary Versus Involuntary Service. Social Science Research. 67, 160–175.