Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Quality of Extracurricular Activities - Considering Developmental Changes in the Impact on School Attachment and achievement/Qualität Außerunterrichtlicher Angebote - Wie Beeinflusst Sie Schulbindung Und -Leistung Im Verlauf der Sekundarstufe I?

Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Quality of Extracurricular Activities - Considering Developmental Changes in the Impact on School Attachment and achievement/Qualität Außerunterrichtlicher Angebote - Wie Beeinflusst Sie Schulbindung Und -Leistung Im Verlauf der Sekundarstufe I?

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In Germany, "schooling" is traditionally associated with an academic curriculum taught between about eight o'clock in the morning and - at least in primary school - noon or one o'clock in the afternoon. The introduction of "all-day schools" (i.e., extended school days) has been a major topic in recent educational debates. Between 2003 and 2009, converting and equipping schools to the all-day format has been financially supported by the investment program "Future of Education and Care" [Zukunft Bildung und Betreuung]. During this period the number of allday schools in Germany has nearly doubled (KMK, 2011). The "Study on the development of all-day schools" (StEG) [Studie zur Entwicklung von Ganztagsschulen] was designed to evaluate the effects of this investment program. The analyses in this paper are based on data from StEG.

While all-day schools differ considerably with respect to organization and conceptual base, they all have in common that extracurricular activities are provid- ed as well as regular lessons. These extracurricular activities are comparable to after-school programs in the United States, defined as "organized group activities that occur on a regular basis, typically 4 or 5 days a week" (Vandell, Pierce, & Dadisman, 2005, p. 51) and are typically housed in schools (Kleiner, Nolin, & Chapman, 2004).

Results of United States studies and meta-analyses indicate that extracurricular activities positively influence the development of social, physical and intellectual skills (Durlak, Weissberg, & Pachan, 2010; Eccles & Barber, 1999) as well as academic performance, measured by grades (Eccles, Barber, Stone, & Hunt, 2003; Feldman & Matjasko, 2005) and achievement tests (Lauer et al., 2006). It is often assumed that these effects are due to an improvement in students' connections to school (i.e., school commitment, school attachment) (Barber, Stone, & Eccles, 2010; Marsh, 1992; Mahoney, Larson, Eccles, & Lord, 2005). However, so far, research investigating school attachment as outcome or mediation variable with respect to school grades is rare. Thus, one aim of this study is to analyze the development of academic achievement (grades) in dependence of school attachment. Another research gap is closed by also considering quality of extracurricular activities.

Recent studies on the effectiveness of after-school programs focus on either process-quality (as Miller & Truong, 2009) or quantity of participation, also referred to as "dosage" (as Vandell, Reisner, & Pierce, 2007). It is assumed that these factors are crucial to the achievement of positive effects from extracurricular participation. Former analyses of data from StEG support this assumption (Fischer, Kuhn, & Klieme, 2009; Fischer, Brümmer, & Kuhn, 2011; Kuhn & Fischer, 2011a). Up to now it is not known how specific quality features influence students across developmental trajectories. Therefore, this paper investigates age-differences in the effects of student perceived quality of extracurricular activities on academic performance and school attachment.

By gaining proper knowledge about quality features of extracurricular activities and their relevance across developmental stages, this study can help to create effective and beneficial extracurricular settings at school for each age group.

2. Theoretical background and empirical results

2.1 Effects of extracurricular activities on school attachment and academic performance

The number of studies concerning the effects of participation in extracurricular activities on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes recently has increased considerably (see, for example, Eccles et ah, 2003; Feldman & Matjasko, 2005). When analysing the effects on academic performance, most studies focus on grades (Grade Point Average (GPA)) or college completion. In a summary of pertinent studies, Feldman and Matjasko (2005) reported a positive correlation between extracurricular participation and school performance. …

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