Adolescents' views of success: Experiences, obstacles and perceptions

Andrew Mac Intosh, Michigan State University, USA

Theme: Youth sport

Poster Number: 74

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Recent work by Larson, Martinek, and Hellison, among others, has emphasized Positive Youth Development (PYD) in the sport environment. One element that is critical to further PYD in sports is the experience of success. However, how youth in these environments perceive and define success has not been addressed. Further, little research has been done with youth from other cultures, e.g., the Caribbean culture where sport plays a central role in the lives of youth. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to gain a better understanding of how youth view success to inform sport practitioners to better design sports programs to further PYD. Semi structured interviews were conducted with Trinidadian youth in three distinct contexts (Swimming Club, Church Youth Group, Juvenile Delinquency Center). Participants were asked about their definitions of success, their definitions originations, perceived obstacles to success, strategies to overcome these obstacles, and what role they perceived sport might play in their success. Researchers identified meaning units independently, triangulation consensus was achieved, and meaning units were placed in higher order themes. One finding across contexts and participants included the role of setting goals in youths’ definition of success. Youth from each context identified differing routes to success later in life. All emphasized the critical role of others (parents, coaches, peers etc.) in providing support for success. A key finding was that even though support was recognized as important regardless of context, where youth found support varied greatly. Youth primarily viewed others as a resource for achieving success, however key others were also sometimes seen as obstacles when youth perceived them as unsupportive of their current goals. Role models were also identified as playing an important role in youths’ ability to define and achieve success. Discussion focuses on how definitions of success impact programs designed to promote PYD.

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