As a member of YALSA’s Programming Guidelines taskforce I thought of my library’s teen technology intern program that’s been in existence since 2005 and has utilized an outcome based measurement system in the last few years to measure success.

The Teen Programming Guidelines devote a fair amount of space to discuss the details of developing programs that “Engage in youth-driven, evidence-based evaluation and outcome measurement.” Basically it points to more than attendance being the sole measure of success for a program. Considering both short and long-term goals defined by teen participants themselves, in what they hope to learn can be a way to assess if a program is on track or if it needs to be tweaked in any way. Evaluations can take the form of pre and post surveys, a face-to-face conversation, or even informally asking questions. Aside from what teens defining their goals, other capacities a program might want to focus on is “. . .an improvement or expansion of knowledge, skills, confidence, attitude, or behavior.” Pre and post surveys can do well in capturing this data because they can show a change from when the teen started the program to when they completed. Sometimes the hardest part is remembering to give them the survey!

An overview of the intern program that takes place in Studio i is that it offers teens 13-18 (and adults currently enrolled in a college program related to the activities in the Studio) an opportunity to learn how to use the software and hardware and then teach others how to use it. Video creation and editing using iMovie, animation with Stop Motion Pro, and Garageband to create music in our sound booth are three of the most popular activities even though we do have other software available. Interns work a minimum 2 hour shift a week and could do as much as six. Because of the limited hours of the Studio and scheduling no more than two interns at a time, their shifts are usually 2-3 hours once-twice a week. Interns also have the chance to work on projects such as promotional videos for YALSA’s Teen Tech Week or an event such as the North Carolina Science Festival where they might showcase the portable animation stations.

Outcomes are measured through a pre and post survey. At the end of the term, this gives us a lot of information as to what their experience was like. Questions range from what skills they would like to develop to what projects they would like to work on. These reports are then compiled and shared with the managers and sometimes social media. This can then in turn be used to help promote the program for the next new group of volunteers as well as show us what could be changed or improved.

Outcomes are also measured through software assessments. Interns are asked to choose one software each term they want to focus on and feel comfortable enough at the end of four months to answer questions. We let them know these questions help show us where our instruction might need to be improved as well as what skills they have gained. They are welcome to read over the questions during the term-it’s not meant to take them by surprise or be anything tricky. We sit down with them and have them demonstrate the processes asked. For example, “I know how to render my file into a movie format file” would be followed with the intern demonstrating how to do this task. They have also designed assessments themselves where they take a different version of a software (than the assessment was written for) and develop questions for another group of interns.

Some of the outcomes have included an intern speaking in front of the county board during funding discussions to share how her experience at the library was going to be used toward her college major. The education skills she gained through learning technology would otherwise need to have been paid for to learn. Through the surveys, others have shared, “I think I feel much more comfortable with talking to people and working with people professionally” and “It’s a lot of fun and it also gets you prepared for a real job.” While most of the outcomes and survey responses are positive there definitely are interns who could’ve benefited from more oversight of their work on our part. We talk about what we could change next time so that that chances of success and a positive experience will increase for the interns.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

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