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Succeeding at learning, and at life, takes more than academic ability. This article draws on our 2015 report, Foundations for Young Adult Success, which synthesized decades of research, theory, and practice from the fields of youth development, psychology, sociology, economics, education, and the cognitive sciences to describe the personal qualities that underlie a productive and fulfilling adulthood and describes the kind of experiences that adults can create for children, in or out of school, to lead them there. In this article, report author Jenny Nagaoka examines what a well-designed developmental experience looks like and describes how adults can support the two essential characteristics of developmental experiences: They must be active—allowing students to design, create, practice, puzzle, experiment, do—and they must also be reflective—helping young people draw meaning from their experiences.
The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in JSD: The Learning Forward Journal, December 2016 by Learning Forward, All rights reserved. © 2016