What are the effects of the European Union Programme Erasmus+: Youth in Action on young people, youth workers and youth leaders involved in the projects funded by this programme? What and how do they learn through their participation in these projects? Which competences do they develop and how? Which specific contexts, settings, conditions, educational approaches, methodologies and methods are successful in fostering the development of key competences for lifelong learning in Youth in Action projects funded through the Youth in Action Programme (2007-2013) and now through Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme? What are the effects on youth groups, organisations, institutions, structures and communities involved in the programme? And how does the programme contribute to the achievement of the objectives and priorities of the Youth in Action Programme (now Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme), in particular to the promotion of active/democratic citizenship and participation in civil society, tolerance, solidarity and understanding between young people in different countries, the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities and the development of quality and networking in youth work?
These and other questions are addressed and studied through ‘Research-based Analysis and Monitoring of Erasmus+: Youth in Action’ (RAY), implemented by a network of Erasmus+: Youth in Action National Agencies and their research partners currently in 29 European countries (‘RAY Network’).
Programme of activities between 2014 and 2020
At the beginning of 2014, the RAY Network launched a process in order to develop its mission, research approaches, activities and structure for Erasmus+: Youth in Action (2014 to 2020). This process resulted in the following programme of RAY research activities between 2014 and 2020, involving presently 31 RAY Network partners in 29 countries.
The RAY research programme includes the following research projects:
- Research-based analysis and monitoring of Erasmus+: Youth in Action (E+/YiA), which is a further development of the main activity of the RAY Network between 2009 and 2013 (the ‘Standard Surveys’), aimed at contributing to monitoring and developing E+/YiA and the quality of projects supported by it; this activity is a joint activity of all RAY Network partners;
- a research project on the long-term effects of E+/YiA on participation and citizenship of the actors involved, in particular on the development of participation and citizenship competences and practices;
- a research project on competence development and capacity building of youth workers and youth leaders involved in training/support activities in E+/YiA; this project will also explore the effects of E+/YiA on the organisations involved.
Besides the specific themes of each research activity the following horizontal themes are taken into consideration:
- young people with fewer opportunities or special needs, in particular with respect to the effects of their participation, the effectiveness of methods used and their inclusion in the projects and beyond;
- the effects of participation in funded projects on educational and professional pathways.
These research activities are prepared by working groups and in consultation with the European Commission and related structures. This includes the establishment of common research and ethical standards. The research projects are designed in a way that an overlap between the samples for the different research activities is avoided. These RAY research projects started in 2015.
A further research activity – a more detailed and in-depth analysis of data collected from the Youth in Action Programme (2007-2013) – follows a separate track since it refers to the previous Youth in Action Programme (YiA) and draws on data that has already been collected. A special initiative is focussing on the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities in YiA-funded projects and on specific effects these projects had on them. Additionally, a more in-depth analysis of data collected between 2009 and 2013 is part of the development of the new research projects in E+/YiA.
Further research activities related to Erasmus+: Youth in Action will be developed during the coming years.