Connecting research and practice: Perspectives on the role of manualised programmes in youth work
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Brady, Bernadine, & Redmond, Susan. (2017). Connecting research and practice: Perspectives on the role of manualized programs in youth work. Child & Youth Services, 38(3), 252-268. doi: 10.1080/0145935X.2017.1326306
While there is a strong movement in favour of the use of manual based programmes in the arena of social care, there is a view that such programmes are not applicable in the more fluid setting of youth work, which operates informally, using dynamic and organic methods. For example, Coburn (2011) argues that a critical pedagogical approach to youth work engages young people by encouraging them to become inquisitive, to question why things are the way they are and to pose problems through which they can learn. For some, manualised or evidence based programmes are not seen as having a role in such contexts. However, to date, the international debate in relation to this issue has been limited by an absence of published studies focusing specifically on strategies to implement evidence informed practice in youth work contexts. This paper aims to address this gap in the literature. The Irish national youth organisation Foróige, which works with over 56,000 young people in Ireland on an annual basis, has developed a range of manualised evidence informed resources to support its youth work over recent years. Drawing on research findings from a range of studies conducted with youth workers focusing on implementation of these resources, the paper explores the benefits and tensions associated with the use of programme manuals in a youth work context. The findings suggest that such resources have a valuable role to play in youth work if designed in collaboration with youth workers, showing respect for core youth work values and allowing for flexibility and adaptability in implementation.
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