Advanced Digital Pathways Program
Rockman et al worked closely with BAVC staff to design a sequence of evaluation activities that would effectively document program activities and outcomes over the course of the grant. In the early years of the project, evaluators collected mostly quantitative indicators of program success (e.g., student and instructor surveys) and supplemented that data with classroom observations and occasional instructor and student interviews. In the final year, evaluators selected several students in each ADP track for a more intensive, systematic study of their program experiences. Evaluators also interviewed BAVC instructors and program directors about their ADP experience as a whole and what had changed over time. This mixed method approach allowed evaluators to document the program’s implementation and impacts with breadth and depth.
Evaluators concluded that:
• Students developed hard and soft skills necessary for success in the 21st Century workforce. Not only did they gain the technical proficiency needed to complete independent media projects, but they acquired creative problem solving, communication and collaboration skills applicable to a wide variety of settings.
• Students remained engaged in their courses through: (a) supportive student-teacher relationships, (b) collaborative learning environments, (c) student-directed independent media projects, (d) exposure to people from diverse backgrounds, and (e) stipends for participation.
• Each year, ADP program directors learned valuable lessons about (a) course timeline and structure, (b) instructor recruitment and retention, and (c) student selection, engagement and retention. While the San Francisco Bay Area has no shortage of job-seekers with expertise in digital media, BAVC sought instructors with a proven commitment to youth empowerment and community-building with traditionally marginalized populations. Furthermore, BAVC struggled to retain students who left the program due to changing economic circumstances. Program directors are considering alternative engagement strategies that would give students tangible, meaningful accomplishments within a single trimester.
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