Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Samuel McQuillin


This study examined the role of positive youth development programming and individual-level characteristics in promoting critical reflection (CR) in youth and adolescent participants. CR refers to the analytical component of critical consciousness (CC), or the exercise of challenging institutional practices that systemically marginalize or oppress certain subgroups. Survey and interview data were analyzed from at-risk high school students (N=250) participating in an after-school program across six sites in urban areas in the United States. Multiple regression models were used to predict the development of CR, and interviews were examined to look for themes related to quantitative findings. Results support that youths’ growth mindsets lend to the development of CR, and highlight demographic trends among participants who were more likely to exhibit higher levels of CR than their peers. Findings also show promise for systems-level programming affecting the emergence of critical consciousness, particularly if programming exposes participants to new experiences.