Tom Akiva

My research focuses on organized activities that youth attend during out-of-school time (OST) and what these voluntary environments can teach us about learning. I study this topic from a motivation perspective, investigating instructional practices, thought processes, decisions made during learning, and the developmental and educational consequences of participation. I also have interest and experience studying mindfulness among adults and youth in various learning settings.

I currently have projects in two areas. First, adolescent motivation to attend and engage in youth programs -- Given the multitude of ways high school students can spend their time, what factors contribute to their decisions to enroll in and regularly attend OST program activities? I am addressing this topic within an expectancy-value framework, focusing on intrinsic factors related to people (peers, staff) and content (activities, projects, cool materials in the program space).

Second, I also study developmental effects of involving youth in authentic leadership roles in youth programs -- Through two projects I am investigating the practice of placing youth in leadership roles within youth programs. One is a youth leadership program in which older youth mentor younger youth. The second is a project to examine the effects of participation as a summer camp CIT (counselor-in-training).