Project Descriptions: NICHD study of child care and youth development

Experience Sampling Study

Investigators: Deborah Lowe Vandell, B. Bradford Brown, Kimberly Dadisman, David Shernoff, Kim M. Pierce
Funding: Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

Description 
Experience Sampling Forms 
Publications 
Presentations 
Reports 
Dissertations 

Description 

Experience sampling allows researchers to collect systematic data about what a person does, thinks and feels during daily life. This methodology measures the participant's location, activity, and affective and cognitive experiences at random moments. It is particularly valuable for eliciting the subjective experiences of the individual interacting in his or her natural environments. The record of daily experiences produced is similar to that recorded in time diaries, but differs in that respondents record their experiences immediately upon having them. 

For this study, we collected experience sampling data from 8th grade students enrolled in eight schools in three states. Some of the students attended 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs, some attended other after-school programs, and some did not attend any program. The overall goal of the study was to contrast the experiences of youth who attended community learning center and other after-school programs with the experiences of comparison youth who did not attend the programs. Study participants were asked to wear a watch for one week in the fall and one week in the spring. The watch was programmed to randomly signal the student five times each day the watch was worn. The signals occurred between the after-school and evening hours of 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on weekdays, and between 10:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on weekends. 

At each signal, the participants recorded the following information in a daily logbook: (1) time of day, (2) location, (3) social partners, (4) primary and secondary activities, (5) level of motivation and effort (degree of choice in selecting activity, how important the activity was to the student, whether the activity was interesting and challenging, enjoyment of activity, degree of concentration, whether using one's skills, wish to be doing something else-reflected), and (6) emotional states. Participants also recorded whether they were at an after-school program when signaled, and the name of the program. 

Open-ended items in the logbooks (activities, locations, and social partners) were coded by the research team. From the logbook data, we constructed numerous variables for data analyses: 

Activity: We coded 64 specific activities; examples include homework, academic enrichment, snacks/meals, organized sports, TV, video games, dance lessons, shopping, recreational computer use, and sleeping. Key activities were combined into composite activity categories for analysis. 

Social partners: We coded 14 social partner categories, such as program staff, single peer, peer group, sibling, father, other adults. From these data, we created composite scores to represent the youths' social experiences. Example categories include supervised time with peers (time with a friend or friends, child relatives, boyfriend or girlfriend, other kids, brother or sisters, AND an adult), unsupervised time with peers (time with peers AND no adult present was present), and adults only (time with adults, no peers present). 

Location: We coded 28 specific locations, such as own bedroom, other inside location at home, instructional space at school, social space at school, friend's house, relative's house, store, outdoors in neighborhood, in a car. 

Engagement: Three composite indicators of engagement in activities were created, including flow (high challenge, high use of skills, high concentration), intrinsic motivation(high choice, high enjoyment, high interest, low wish to be doing something else), andimportance (high importance). 

Feeling states: We combined data about choice of activity and concentration in the activity, as follows.
  • High degree of choice in doing an activity / high degree of concentration in that activity (consistent with the feelings of intrinsic motivation and effort that Larson (1999) has posited as facilitative of the development of initiative)
  • High choice / low concentration (consistent with leisure and relaxation)
  • Low choice / high concentration (a combination often reported during the school day)
  • Low choice / low concentration (may occur when adolescents are particularly disengaged)

Emotional states: Three composite emotional states were constructed, including positive emotions (proud, excited, happy, relaxed), negative emotions (scared, worried, sad, angry, stressed), and apathy (bored, lonely)

 


Experience Sampling Forms 

 Data Logbook
 Sample Coded Logbook
 Experience Sampling Coding Manual 

Publications 

Vandell, D. L., Shernoff, D. J., Pierce, K. M., Bolt, D. M., Dadisman, K., & Brown, B. B. (2005). Activities, engagement, and emotion in after-school programs (and elsewhere). In H. B. Weiss, P. M. D. Little, & S. M. Bouffard (Eds.), New directions for youth development: No. 105. Participation in youth programs: Enrollment, attendance, and engagement (pp. 121-129). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Shernoff, D. J., & Vandell, D. L. (2007). Engagement in after-school program activities: Quality of experience from the perspective of participants. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 891-903. 

Shernoff, D. J., & Vandell, D. L. (in press). Youth engagement and quality of experience in afterschool programs.Afterschool Matters Occasional Papers Series. New York: Robert Bowne Foundation. 


Presentations 

Dadisman, K., Vandell, D. L., & Pierce, K. (2002, April). Experience sampling provides a window into after-school program experiences. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescents, New Orleans, LA.  [PDF full text

Vandell, D. L., Shernoff, D. J., Pierce, K. M., Bolt, D. M., Fu, J., & Dadisman, K. (2003, April). Adolescents' activities and feelings at after-school programs and elsewhere. In D. L. Vandell (Chair), After-school experiences during adolescence: Programs and activities that support development. Symposium conducted at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Tampa, FL.  [PDF Powerpoint [PDF paper

Brown, B. B., & Wang, L-H. (2003, April). How horrible is hangin' out?: Comparing adolescents' peer interactions in structured and unstructured settings. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Tampa, FL.  [PDF paper

Dadisman, K., & Wang, L-H. (2003, April). Adolescent-parent companionship: An examination of time, activities, and quality. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Tampa, FL. [PDF paper

Dadisman, K., & Vandell, D. L. (2005, April). Program quality predicts intensity of participation in middle school after-school programs. In B. J. Hirsch (Chair), What works in after-school programs: Opening up the black box. Symposium conducted at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Atlanta, GA.  [PDF Powerpoint]

Dadisman, K., & Vandell, D. L. (2005, April). After-school programs: Connecting daily experiences and global ratings of support. Poster session presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Atlanta, GA.  [PDF paper

Dadisman, K., & Lee, D. (2006, March). Eighth grade students' attitudes toward school and peer relationships as a function of after-school program quality and attendance. Poster session presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Adolescence, San Francisco, CA.  [PDF paper

Shernoff, D. J., & Vandell, D. L. (2007, April). Engagement in after-school program activities: Quality of experience from the perspective of participants. In G. Hall (Chair), Evaluating out-of-school time programs. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.  [PDF Powerpoint] [PDF paper

Shernoff, D. J., & Vandell, D. L. (2008, March). Youth engagement in after-school programs: A perspective from experience sampling. In D. J. Shernoff (Chair), Engagement in out-of-school time activities: Exploring multiple perspectives and methodologies. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY.  [PDF Powerpoint [PDF paper

Shernoff, D. J., Vandell, D. L, & Bolt, D. M. (2008, March). Experiences and emotions as mediators in the relationship between after-school program participation and developmental outcomes. In G. Hall (Chair), Long-term impact and outcomes of out-of-school time programs. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY.  [PDF Powerpoint [PDF paper

Reports 

Vandell, D. L, &, Brown, B. B. (2002, September). Watch study report. Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  [PDF paper

Dissertations 

Dadisman, K. A. (2004). After-school experiences: Variations in perceptions of support (Doctoral dissertation, University of Wisconsin Madison, 2003). Dissertation Abstracts International, 64, 2776.  [PDF paper

Wang, L.-H. (2005). Characteristics of "chronic interest" among adolescents (Doctoral dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004). Dissertation Abstracts International, 65, 4107.  [PDF paper]
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