Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

William Kurtines

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Mary Levitt

Third Advisor's Name

Dionne Stephens

Fourth Advisor's Name

Bruce Harvey


Positive Youth Development, Critical Thinking, Cognitive Competence

Date of Defense



The dissertation reports on two studies. The purpose of Study I was to develop and evaluate a measure of cognitive competence (the Critical Problem Solving Skills Scale – Qualitative Extension) using Relational Data Analysis (RDA) with a multi-ethnic, adolescent sample. My study builds on previous work that has been conducted to provide evidence for the reliability and validity of the RDA framework in evaluating youth development programs (Kurtines et al., 2008). Inter-coder percent agreement among the TOC and TCC coders for each of the category levels was moderate to high, with a range of .76 to .94. The Fleiss’ kappa across all category levels was from substantial agreement to almost perfect agreement, with a range of .72 to .91. The correlation between the TOC and the TCC demonstrated medium to high correlation, with a range of r(40)=.68, p

Study II reports an investigation of a positive youth development program using an Outcome Mediation Cascade (OMC) evaluation model, an integrated model for evaluating the empirical intersection between intervention and developmental processes. The Changing Lives Program (CLP) is a community supported positive youth development intervention implemented in a practice setting as a selective/indicated program for multi-ethnic, multi-problem at risk youth in urban alternative high schools in the Miami Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS). The 259 participants for this study were drawn from the CLP’s archival data file. The study used a structural equation modeling approach to construct and evaluate the hypothesized model. Findings indicated that the hypothesized model fit the data (χ2 (7) = 5.651, p = .83; RMSEA = .00; CFI = 1.00; WRMR = .319). My study built on previous research using the OMC evaluation model (Eichas, 2010), and the findings are consistent with the hypothesis that in addition to having effects on targeted positive outcomes, PYD interventions are likely to have progressive cascading effects on untargeted problem outcomes that operate through effects on positive outcomes.





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