Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Increasing and Generalizing Self-Efficacy: The Effects of Adventure Recreation on the Academic Efficacy of Early Adolescents

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Increasing and Generalizing Self-Efficacy: The Effects of Adventure Recreation on the Academic Efficacy of Early Adolescents

Article excerpt


Youth inhabit a variety of contexts (e.g., home, school, work, out-of-school, etc.), which each exert varying degrees of developmental influence. While large bodies of literature exist looking at the impact of specific contexts on youth (e.g., structured out-of-school time contexts; Mahoney, Larson, & Eccles, 2005), bidirectional influences across contexts have received less attention. Research has examined some cross contextual connections like the influence of parenting on academics (Hughes & Kwok, 2007; Jeynes, 2007; Nancy & Lorraine, 2004; Rogers, Wiener, Marton, & Tannock, 2009) and the out-of-school context of sports (Green & Chalip, 1997; Holt, Tamminen, Black, Sehn, & Wall, 2008; Hoyle & Leff, 1997), but many other cross-context relationships have received little or no attention.

Research focusing on the potential connections between structured, out-of-school time (OST) contexts and school contexts may be an important addition to the existing literature. The developmental processes inherent in many structured out-of-school time programs may conceptually overlap with school day learning; yet, these potential connections remain largely unexamined. For example, we know well designed, high-quality youth programs can foster substantial development impacts (e.g., emotional competence, resilience, identity, etc.; Catalano, Berglund, Ryan, Lonczak, & Hawkins, 2004), but do these outcomes generalize to actual school engagement and performance? It seems this generalization anecdotally and theoretically occurs, but additional evidence is needed.

Research looking specifically at after-school programs represents an important exception to out-of-school/school cross-contextual research. For example, a Harvard Family Research Project review (Little, Wimer, & Weiss, 2008) highlighted the wide variety of academic-related benefits associated with participation in after-school programs including increases in reading and math achievement, school attendance, and homework completion rates. This same review also linked after-school program participation and a host of social/emotional (e.g., development of initiative, less behavioral problems, etc.) and prevention (e.g., less juvenile crime) outcomes.

While the after-school program research represents an important contribution to better understanding the relationship between school and out-of-school contexts, after school programs represent a unique type of out-of-school time context. For example, after-school programs are usually more connected to the school day than other structured out-of-school contexts. Most after-school programs occur within schools and often include school day curriculum aligned programming in addition to mandatory homework help. This close connection between after-school programs and the regular school day stands in contrast to many other structured out-of-school time opportunities like organized sports, clubs (e.g., 4-H), arts and music, and summer camps.

Thus, research is needed to know if out-of-school contexts without explicit links relate back to school, and if such contexts do, understand how this is accomplished. The need to study outof-school and school context connections may be especially pertinent in terms of understanding if and how summer time, structured youth contexts impact factors associated with academic performance. As it becomes increasingly obvious that large numbers of youth are experiencing significant amounts of summer learning loss (Phillips & Chin, 2004), the impetus to understand what types of structured summer contexts for youth may positively influence academic-related variables grows. Additionally, the examination of the structure and processes of such programs is needed to understand how such experiences interact with the academically related variables.

Self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1997) appears to provide a viable theoretical framework to examine and potentially explain linkages between out-of-school and school contexts. …

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