Using Experience Sampling Method (ESM) to Assess Cognitive and Affective Engagement of Youth Volunteers at a Children's Museum

Marissa Louise Post


The present study sought to utilize Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to expand upon pre-existing research on youth volunteerism and examine how youth volunteers at a children’s museum express cognitive and affective dimensions of their volunteer experiences. Incoming motivations and expectations were also examined for their effects on volunteer engagement and satisfaction. This study utilized Experience Sampling Method (ESM) to explore patterns of self-determined behavior. This study utilized event contingent cueing through the use of ESM surveys. Multiple ESM surveys and a background survey were collected from 14 youth volunteers who worked as Play Assistants or Museum Assistants to create volunteer profiles. Results demonstrate a predominantly positive volunteering experience, as expressed through high survey ratings on autonomous, competency, and relatedness indicators. Further, a potential interaction involving incoming expectations and motivations and current museum experiences is apparent when comparing specific volunteer profiles, perhaps explaining for contrasting levels of satisfaction between volunteers. Implications, limitations, and future research questions are discussed.


Youth Volunteers; Self-Determination Theory; Experience Sampling Method

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