Higher-degree research being undertaken by Andrew Mansfield




Dr Wayne Cotton and Associate Professor Paul Ginns

Thesis title:

Using Design Based Research to improve the life skills development of participants in a school-based youth development activity



Project description

Youth development activities occur within a range of contexts, including schools and the outdoors. Whilst there is significant popular and research interest in youth development, it can be considered an educational ‘black box’. That is, whilst the outcomes of youth development programs are well understood, the processes through which this learning occurs are not as well understood. This research project employs Design Based Research to identify the design principles and ultimately a model of youth development to guide school based youth development programs, especially those operating in the outdoors.

This multi-phase project employed a systematic literature review and stakeholder interviews to identify design principles of school based youth development programs. A needs analysis was undertaken of a specific school based youth development program to identify a single design principle to be targeted by a tailored intervention. This intervention fostered participant reflection through guided discussion and journaling activities with the intent of improving the life skill development of the youth participants in the program. Two iterations of Design Based Research were undertaken to test, refine and retest this intervention.

Both quantitative and qualitative data was collected and analysed to test the effects of this intervention during two cycles of the program. Quantitative data was collected via the Life Effectiveness Questionnaire (Neill, Marsh, & Richards, 2003) (n=276 and n=246) and qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews (n=17 and n=17) and analysis of participants’ reflective journals (n=118).

This research project provides insights into the ‘black box’ of youth development programs and offers a model to guide practice within school based youth development programs, especially those operating in the outdoors.

Andrew Mansfield is nearing completion of his PhD as a part time student in the school. He is employed as the Director of Activities at a school in Sydney, and in this role is responsible for leading the School’s non-sport co-curricular activities, overseeing the Performing Arts, Outdoor Education, Service and Cadet Programs.

Professional and community role

  • Presenter at a range of practitioner conferences including the Association of Independent Schools Research Symposium, National Boys’ Education Conferences and Outdoors NSW Practitioner Conference.


Conference presentations