With generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for the Developing Adolescent from the University of California, Berkeley, in partnership with the Global Early Adolescent Study at Johns Hopkins University are excited to launch Discover. Focused on early adolescents (ages 10 to 14 years old) in Tanzania, Discover includes three synergistic components:

1) The development, testing, implementation, refinement, and evaluation of Discover Learning, an integrated developmental intervention aiming to improve agency, empowerment, gender equity, and social development among early adolescents. Discover Learning aims to support enduring effects on a broad range of developmental trajectories including support of positive sexual and reproductive health, mental health, education retention and attainment, and reduced vulnerability to gender-based violence and exploitation. 

2) The expansion of available data about the sexual and reproductive health trajectories of early adolescents through implementation of the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS).

3) The framing and communication of emerging lessons from developmental science integrated with the outcomes and data from the GEAS and Discover Learning to inform global efforts to improve the lives of early adolescents. Together, these activities will provide pioneering advances to understanding developmental leverage points and learning targets that will inform scalable, high-impact early interventions for global youth. 

The primary focus of the Discover project is the development and testing of the Discover Learning intervention with a goal of promoting positive, gender-norm transformative, social-emotional learning during early adolescence. The Discover Learning intervention builds on research from transdisciplinary developmental science that indicates that early adolescence (ages 10-14), is a period of dynamic maturational changes. These include the onset of pubertal development, which begins a period of rapid physical growth (including extensive brain development) and sexual maturation, as well as changes in cognitive, social, emotional, psychological, and behavioral processes. This highly innovative intervention leverages the developmental changes that occur with the onset of puberty that appear to create natural affinities for discovery learning, particularly in the social domain. In contrast to didactic learning models, discovery learning is a process through which learners engage in self-motivated inquiry, supported by teachers/facilitators, information, and materials, in order to “discover” the intended content. Key elements to creating sustainable discovery learning include: a) engaging motivation and natural curiosity, and b) providing social scaffolding that includes a balance of monitoring/support while also promoting youth-driven discoveries (individually and in small groups).  To achieve this, Discover Learning uses social scaffolding to promote youth-driven discovery learning and leverages digital technology to engage youth.

An additional component of Discover is to increase the body of data available about early adolescents in Tanzania. The goal of the Global Early Adolescent Study is to understand the development of gender norms in early adolescence that predispose young people to subsequent sexual health risks and conversely that contribute to healthy sexuality so as to provide the knowledge base for adult caregivers and young people themselves to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Coupling with the insights gained through Discover Learning, we seek to expand our understanding of how to maximize the potential for positive trajectories for early adolescents in Tanzania and around the world.

Project Partners

The Center for the Developing Adolescent provides overall leadership on the DISCOVER project and is leading the design of the Discover Learning intervention – specifically focusing on the integration of the concepts of the developmental science. The Center will also be working in close partnership with all project partners on the implementation, evaluation, and framing of the project.

Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS), a partnership between the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, and research institutions in 15 countries around the world, aims to understand the risk factors in early adolescence that predispose young people to subsequent sexual health risks and promote healthy sexuality so as to provide the information needed to promote sexual and reproductive well-being. The GEAS is conducting the evaluation portion of the DISCOVER Project.

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children – working in more than 120 countries, saving children's lives; fight for their rights; and helping them fulfill their potential. Save the Children has been operating in Tanzania since 1994 and works on seven thematic areas: Child Protection, Health, Nutrition, Child Rights Governance, Education, Food Security and Livelihoods, and Emergencies. Policy influencing and advocacy, gender, HIV/AIDS are other areas, which contribute to the current programming. Save the Children is partnering with the Center for the Developing Adolescent on the implementation of Discover Learning.

FrameWorks Institutes’ approach—Strategic Frame Analysis® has been developed over the last 15 years and is grounded in theory and methods from across the cognitive and social sciences. This multi-method approach pays attention to the public’s deeply held worldviews and widely held assumptions and is designed to help experts and advocates leverage their work to shift public discourse and pave the way for social change. In DISCOVER, FrameWorks will guide the framing and communication of the strongest elements emerging from the project to facilitate dissemination to other global funders and development agencies interested in early adolescence.