URC

The Effects of Extracurricular Activities on the Academic
Performance of Junior High Students

Kimiko Fujita
The Master's College


Abstract

Research indicates that participation in extracurricular activities affects students’ academic performance. More specifically, studies have been conducted assessing the effects of specific extracurricular activities on academic performance. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not the activities in which junior high school students choose to participate have an effect on their academic performance. The study’s survey instrument which was distributed to students enrolled in grades 6 through 8 at Walnut Creek Christian Academy during the 2004-2005 school year requested demographic information in addition to the five Likert-type scale questions. The data revealed that, according to the students surveyed, playing sports, watching television, and participating in community service improves academic performance, while playing a musical instrument does not improve academic performance. Therefore, it was concluded that extracurricular activities affect academic performance and that the effect depends on the specific activities in which the student is involved.

INTRODUCTION

Music, parental involvement, sports—all of these have an influence on how children perform academically. The way children choose to spend their free time can affect their school performance; it is not simply traditional in-class instruction that impacts academic achievement. “A study by the U. S. Department of Education revealed that students who participate in co-curricular activities are three times more likely to have a grade point average of 3.0 or better” than students who do not participate in co-curricular activities (Stephens & Schaben, 2002, para. 4). In addition to co-curricular or extracurricular activities, “analyses revealed that regardless of students’ background and prior achievement, various parenting, volunteering, and home learning activities positively influenced student grades” (Simon, 2001, para. 1). Numerous studies have examined the factors influencing students’ academic achievement, and many activities were found to have a significant influence.

According to BUGS (Bringing Up Girls in Science), a program for young girls and their parents at the University of North Texas, “the home environment is among the most important influences on academic performance” (Bringing Up Girls in Science, 2003, para. 2). A correlation appears to exist between the activities that students choose outside of the classroom and their academic performance. One of the main controversies is the effect that television viewing of students has on their academic achievement. “The relationship between cognitive development and television viewing has been the one most widely studied. Investigators disagree about the effects of this relationship” (Shin, 2004, para. 2). The amount and quality of television viewing and family involvement are not the only influences of academic performance. The effects of music and sports are also controversial in their relation to academic performance. School principals are interested in the “relationship between academic achievement and participation in interscholastic sports at middle level schools,” implying that sports do have some sort of influence on how students perform academically (Stephens & Schaben, 2002, para. 2). All of these activities appear to have some sort of effect on students’ academic performance; however, the issue of whether they benefit or hinder is unknown. The research would be described as a descriptive study because it observes behaviors “as they occur naturally, describes behavior, explores a phenomenon, and tests hypotheses about behavior” (Brown, Cozby, Kee, & Worden, 1999, p.75). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine whether or not the activities that junior high school students choose have an effect on their academic performance.

The History of Extracurricular Activities

The development of extracurricular activities was slow in the beginning, with many seeing it simply as a fad that would pass and quickly fade out of style (Millard, 1930, p. xi). One of the early philosophies behind extracurricular activities was that they should, wherever at all possible, “grow out of curricular activities and return to curricular activities to enrich them” (Millard, 1930, p. 12). Eventually people, including educators, began to see the benefits of extracurricular activities, but it took a while to inure themselves to them. In fact, before 1900, educators were skeptical of participation in extracurricular activities, believing that “school should focus solely on narrowly defined academic outcomes. Non-academic activities were viewed as being primarily recreational and therefore were detrimental to academic achievement, and consequently were discouraged” (Marsh & Kleitman, 2002, para. 5). Deam and Bear, early experts on extracurricular activities, said, “Extracurricular activities supplement and extend those contacts and experiences found in the more formal part of the program of the school day” (Millard, 1930, p. 16). It was not until recently that “educational practitioners and researchers have taken a more positive perspective, arguing that extracurricular activities may have positive effects on life skills and may also benefit academic accomplishments” (Marsh & Kleitman, 2002, para. 5). It is obvious that extracurricular activities have an impact on academic performance and education ever since their inception. The question is, how are extracurricular activities affecting academic performance today?

Extracurricular Activities and Academic Performance

Numerous studies have been conducted concerning the relationship between extracurricular activities and academic performance. Total extracurricular activity participation (TEAP), or participation in extracurricular activities in general, is associated with an improved grade point average, higher educational aspirations, increased college attendance, and reduced absenteeism” (Broh, 2002, para. 8). Guest and Schneider (2003), in looking at the previous research on this subject said, “Researchers have found positive associations between extracurricular participation and academic achievement” (para. 2). Although researchers agree that extracurricular activities do, in fact, influence academic performance, the specific effect that various activities produce is debated. One study, conducted by the National Educational Longitudinal Study, found that “participation in some activities improves achievement, while participation in others diminishes achievement” (Broh, 2002, para. 1).

Many extracurricular activities have proven to be beneficial in building and strengthening academic achievement, even if the activities are not obviously related to academic subjects (Marsh & Kleitman, 2002, para. 9). “A number of studies revealed that students participating in extracurricular activities did better academically than students who did not participate” (Marsh & Kleitman, 2002, para. 7). Researchers have particularly studied the relationship between extracurricular activities and academic performance in adolescents. One study found that “adolescents who participated in extracurricular activities reported higher grades, more positive attitudes toward school, and higher academic aspirations” (Darling, Caldwell, & Smith, 2005, para. 1). Darling, Caldwell, and Smith (2005) conducted a longitudinal study concerning extracurricular activities and their effect on various aspects of development, including academic performance. A survey containing a list of twenty different extracurricular activities was distributed to students; they were asked to check which extracurricular activities they participated in that year. Demographic questions, such as their favorite activity, gender, and ethnicity were asked in order to take the social factors and influences into account when calculating the results. The students were also asked what their academic goals were and their grade point average. The results showed that the students who participated in school-based extracurricular activities had higher grades, higher academic aspirations, and better academic attitudes than those who were not involved in extracurricular activities at all (Para. 23-35).

Social Influences of Extracurricular Activities and Academic Performance

Numerous studies indicate that extracurricular activities do, in fact, promote academic performance in students. However, are the extracurricular activities themselves, regardless of outside or social influences, responsible for this impact on academic performance? Guest and Schneider (2003) conducted research on what influence various social factors had on the relationship between extracurricular activities and academic performance. They found that most of the studies previously conducted on the relationship between these two factors had not taken into account the meaning that participation in extracurricular activities “[held] for individual participants within distinct social contexts” (Para. 3). They believed that every school and community assigned certain values to the various activities, putting more importance on some over others. The value that is placed on each activity affects the relationship between that specific activity and academic performance (Guest & Schneider, 2003, para. 4).

Guest and Schneider (2003) concluded that there are three factors which influence this relationship. These factors are the “what,” the “where,” and the “when” (Para. 7). The “what” suggests that “the type of participation or activity undertaken influences developmental outcomes” (Guest & Schneider, 2003, para. 8). The “where” suggests “that the school and community context in which extracurricular activity takes place matters” (Guest & Schneider, 2003, para. 9). Finally, the “when” suggests “that the developmental and historical context in which extracurricular participation takes place influences both how it is valued and its effects on subsequent development” (Guest & Schneider, 2003, para. 10). All three of these factors work together to influence the relationship between participation in extracurricular activities and academic performance, because each one places a different value both on activities and academics.

Formal Versus Informal Extracurricular Activities

Some researchers have divided extracurricular activities into informal and formal activities. The formal activities include activities which are relatively structured, such as participating in athletics or learning to play a musical instrument. Informal activities, on the other hand, also known as leisure activities, include less structured activities, such as watching television. Some literature on leisure studies has “suggested that formal and informal activity settings have different influences on motivation and feelings of competence,” two factors which influence academic performance (Guest & Schneider, 2003, para. 8). One study found “that more time in leisure activities was related to poorer academic grades, poorer work habits, and poorer emotional adjustments,” while more time in “structured groups and less time watching TV were associated with higher test scores and school grades” (Marsh & Kleitman, 2002, para. 15).

Guest and Schneider (2003), in their study, found that “the type of participation or activity undertaken influences developmental outcomes (Para. 8). This involves the “what” factor and is the concern of this research project. There have been many studies conducted on the influence that extracurricular activities have on academic performance. Their effects have “differed substantially for different activities. There were a total of seventy-six statistically significant effects, fifty-eight positive and eighteen negative” (Marsh & Kleitman, 2002, para. 11).

The Relationship Between Athletics and Academic Performance

The impact that athletics has on academic performance has been debated over the years—some say the impact is positive, while others say it is negative. “Early analysis of the effect of participation in sports on academic achievement produced inconsistent evidence” (Broh, 2002, para. 3). Even today, there is inconsistent evidence, but most research tends to lean toward the idea that participation in athletics does, in fact, improve academic performance. The result of one particular study indicated that “with the exception of a few subgroups and outcomes, participation in sports is generally unrelated to educational achievement.” Additional information from this study has “found that playing sports in high school has no significant effect on grades or standardized test scores in the general student population” (Broh, 2002, para. 5). Although this particular study produced a negative relationship between sports and academic performance, many demonstrate a positive relationship. Broh (2002) believes that “participation in interscholastic sports promotes students’ development and social ties among students, parents, and schools, and these benefits explain the positive effect of participation on achievement” (Para. 1). “Longitudinal studies on school sports have suggested that such participation raises students’ grades and test scores” (Broh, 2002, para. 2). Stephens and Schaben performed a study looking at the number of sports each student played and its affect on academic performance. They noticed that students who participate in at least one sport each year outperformed those who participated in one or less, in class rank, overall GPA, and math GPA (Stephens & Schaben, 2002, para. 6). They also noticed that the students who participated in more sports for many seasons had a “higher level of scholarship than the [students] who had competed in only a few seasons or for only one year” (Stephens & Schaben, 2002, para. 7). Some research indicates that physical activity not only improves academic performance, but has an actual physical benefit for the mind. Shepard (1996) said, “Regular physical activity might influence cognitive development by increasing cerebral blood flow, altering arousal and associate neruohormonal balance, changing nutritional status, or promoting the growth of interneuronal connections” (Para. 12).

Compared to other extracurricular activities, however, athletics does not appear to produce as strong a positive correlation. Darling et al. (2005) found that students who did not participate in any extracurricular activities showed the poorest adjustment as far as grades, attitude toward school, and academic aspirations, while non-sport extracurricular activities showed the most positive adjustment, with sports related extracurricular activities in the middle (Para. 40). Guest and Schneider (2003) reported similar results, saying, “In all schools, participation in non-sports extracurricular activities has a stronger association with being seen as a good student than does participation in sports” (Para. 36).

The question that some researchers struggled with, however, is whether or not their research explains a cause-effect relationship. Studies report that it is not necessarily the participation in sports which is responsible for producing better grades, but it could be that “good” students are participating in sports. “More recent studies have indicated that there is a large selection bias of higher-achieving, “good” students into participation in extracurricular activities, including sports” (Broh, 2002, para. 3). Guest and Schneider (2003) found that “in higher-class communities, where a relatively large proportion of students go to college, non-sports extracurricular activities are likely to be seen as providing a foundation for further education and professional success” (Para. 13).

The Relationship Between Participation in Music and Academic Performance

Studies reflect a strong positive relationship between participation in music and academic performance. Ponter (1999) suggested that “music should be considered as fundamental to the curriculum as mathematics and reading” (Para. 1). Eady (2004) holds a similar view, believing that “music can influence learning in core subjects as well as contribute to the attainment of core goals in learning” (Para. 1). This gives the impression that music plays an important role in academic performance. One study, which evaluated the effects that musical performance has on children’s academic performance and thinking abilities, showed that “instrumental music training uniquely enhances the higher brain functions required for mathematics, science, and engineering” (Ponter, 1999, para. 23). Milley conducted a case study on students involved in band and orchestra. He found that “concert band and orchestra members scored significantly higher than non-music students on SRA (Science Research Associates) language, math, and composite score; that their GPAs were significantly higher than non-music students; and that they had significantly fewer days absent.” This case study concluded that “music students reach higher academic achievement levels in academic studies than non-music students” (Kelstrom, 1998, para. 26).

Music continues to impact academic performance throughout a student’s educational career. Studies have been conducted on this relationship in students as young as preschool through college-aged students. In all age groups studied, music was proven to have a good impact on academic performance. The College Entrance Examination Board reported that high school students who had had some experience with music performance or music appreciation scored higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The students who had a background in music scored between 51 to 61 points higher on the verbal section and 39 to 46 points higher on the math section than the students with no music background (Ponter, 1999, para. 25). The College Board, who is responsible for administering the Scholastic Aptitude Test conducted studies, which indicated that “music/art students consistently scored significantly higher on both the math and verbal sections of the SAT” (Kelstrom, 1998, para. 1).

Confirming the belief that the relationship between music and academic performance is positive, “researchers have found that music instruction actually enhances student achievement in areas outside music” (Kelstrom, 1998, para. 12). It is believed that “music develops critical thinking skills and improves skills in reading, writing, and math. Music develops and improves spatial intelligence, which transfers to high-level math and science. It develops perceptual skills necessary in many academic areas” (Kelstrom, 1998, para. 31-32). According to this study, music has a strong influence, because it produces and develops skills needed for many academic processes.

The Relationship Between Television Viewing and Academic Performance

Television is usually not considered an extracurricular activity, per se, but for the sake of this study, it is classified as one. Other studies consider it more of a leisure activity than an extracurricular activity. Most studies favor more structured extracurricular activities than watching television for enhanced academic performance. Marsh & Kleitman (2002) reported that “more time in extracurricular activities and structured groups and less time watching TV [are] associated with higher test scores and school grades” (Para. 15).

Most of the literature reviewed reported a negative relationship between television viewing and academic performance. Bar-on (1999) reported that “over 4,000 studies have been published on measuring the effect of television on children. The results suggest a correlation between high rates of television viewing and aggressive and violent behavior, [and] lower academic performance” (Para. 2). An article in Education found that some studies have “found no significant relationship” between television viewing and academic performance, and a few studies have found a large and significant relationship, although most have discovered a small, yet significant relationship (Thompson & Austin, 2003, p. 195).

Shin, in researching television and its effects on academic performance, developed three hypotheses, or reasons, for its negative impact. The first, “the time-displacement hypothesis,” suggests that “watching television displaces or takes time away from intellectually demanding activities such as doing homework and studying,” which has a negative effect on grades and academic performance (Shin, 2004, para. 4). Why this theory does not apply to the other extracurricular activities that seem to improve academic performance, despite the fact that they take time away from schoolwork and studying is addressed by Shin’s second hypothesis. It is called the “mental-effort hypothesis,” and suggests that “watching television leads to mental laziness.” Shin found some evidence that implies that watching television “requires less mental effort than reading,” meaning the brain and intellect are not being triggered and exercised while watching television as it is during other activities (Shin, 2004, para. 5). Shin concluded that spending time watching television “inhibits the viewers’ intellectual processing or leads to specific behaviors that may hinder children’s academic achievement” (Shin, 2004, para. 2). The final hypothesis is called the “attention hypothesis” or the “arousal hypothesis.” This hypothesis proposes that “television viewing encourages impulsive behaviors and may eventually decrease academic achievement, because television uses frequent movements and cuts that may discourage sustained activities.” Children’s television programs are fast-moving and the scenes are constantly changing, fostering short attention spans. This hypothesis also suggest that watching television “leads to superficial intellectual processing,” resulting in a difficulty for children to sustain attention in the classroom (Shin, 2004, para. 6). Although television viewing does require the viewer to absorb information, it usually does not require much brain-processing—typically, no imagination or reasoning skills are developed or utilized, as they are in reading. In summary, Shin concluded that “television viewing [is] assumed to hinder academic achievement through: decreasing the amount of homework and studying, decreasing the amount of leisure reading, and increasing impulsive behaviors” (Shin, 2004, para. 8).

Varying amounts of television viewing have different effects on academic performance. “Researchers have stated that a negative relationship does not begin to manifest itself until a child exceeds a 10 or more hour per week threshold, with the strongest negative relationship observed for 30 or more hours of viewing” (Thompson & Austin, 2003, p. 195). One study actually showed that television viewing has a positive impact “up to a certain amount, and a negative impact after a point of saturation” (Thompson & Austin, 2003, p. 195).

Although the amount of time a student watches television each week has an impact, so does the quality and type of programming he or she is reviewing. If students watch highly informational programs, such as news programs and documentaries, they have a greater opportunity to increase in knowledge and learn. Alternatively, if they watch mostly low informational programs, such as fast-action shows, cartoons, or music videos, “an opportunity for a detrimental academic impact is increased” (Thompson & Austin, 2003, p. 197).

Most research found a negative relationship between television viewing and academic performance; however, there are some instances where television may actually have a positive effect. These instances are few and far between; the most common theory is that there is a negative relationship between the two.

The Relationship Between Volunteer Work and Academic Performance

A dearth of literature on the relationship between volunteering and academic achievement exists; nevertheless, it is becoming more popular in academic settings as a way of improving academics, as well as society. Many schools now require their students to complete a mandatory number of hours of volunteer work per year or semester. Schools have implemented “service learning,” which incorporates community service and volunteer work into the curriculum, because it has been proven to have a positive effect on academic performance (Hinck & Brandell, 1999).

Service learning “can and does have a positive impact on the psychological, social, and intellectual development of adolescents who participate” (Hinck & Brandell, 1999, para. 11). Usually the services performed are related, in some way, to some academic subject, but most forms of volunteer work and community service can be tied to academics in one way or another. As a result, “more and more studies are finding that increased academic growth is the result when service is combined with intellectual content” (Hinck & Brandell, 1999, para. 17). One study, conducted on over 2,000 students enrolled in kindergarten through twelfth grade, found that student performance improved as a result of service learning (Hinck & Brandell, 1999, para. 17). The Texas Council of Chief State School Officers reported that “involvement in service learning affects students’ higher level thinking skills, motivation to learn, application of learning, insight, and basic academic skills” (Hinck & Brandell, 1999, para. 18). One study performed to determine the relationship between academic performance and community partnerships found that “regardless of students’ background and prior achievement, volunteering activities positively influenced student grades, course credits completed, attendance, behavior, and school preparedness” (Simon, 2001, para. 1). All of the literature concerning the relationship between academic performance and volunteering presented a positive relationship.

METHOD

The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not the activities that junior high school students choose have an effect on their academic performance (Brown, Cozby, Kee, & Worden, 1999, p. 106). Generating from the General Purpose stated above, the following research questions were selected:

1. Is the academic performance of junior high school students influenced by their choice of extracurricular activities?

2. What effects do specific activities have on academic performance?

These research questions provided the focus of the study.

Method of Data Collection

The survey instrument used in this study was designed to determine whether or not the activities that junior high school students choose have an effect on their academic performance and was based on a four point Likert-scale, with 1 meaning, “I agree;” 2 meaning, “I agree somewhat;” 3 meaning, “I disagree somewhat;” and 4 meaning, “I disagree.” A personal data sheet requested demographic data in addition to the responses to the five survey questions. The survey instruments were distributed to the junior high students enrolled at Walnut Creek Christian Academy, Walnut Creek, CA, in April 2005. The students returned the completed surveys to the school office throughout the week after distribution.

Statistical Procedures

STATPAK was employed to examine the data; the desired scale of measurement was interval. An interval scale is one in which “the differences between the numbers of an interval scale are equal in size” (Brown, Cozby, Kee, & Worden, 1999, p. 57). A total of 98 survey instruments were distributed to the parents of students enrolled in junior high at Walnut Creek Christian Academy. After reading the cover letter located in appendix B, which explains the survey, they had the option of allowing their child to participate. Those parents and students who chose to participate returned their completed surveys to the school office between April 5 and 8, 2005. The survey instruments were completed and returned on a voluntary and anonymous basis. The One-dimensional Chi-square test was used to test the data because “the data consisted of frequencies—the number of subjects who fall into each of several categories” (Brown, Cozby, Kee, & Worden, 1999, p. 340). A .01 level of significance was used to test the results of the study. Data retrieved from the demographic portion of the survey instrument was reported in percentages, charts, and figures.

RESULTS

The subjects sampled for this study were the junior high students attending Walnut Creek Christian Academy, spring semester. 98 copies of the survey instrument were distributed; 52 were returned and 52 were used in this study. The data collected from the 52 subjects will be discussed in subsequent sections, commencing with the reporting of the demographic findings. The survey indicated that 35% of the students were in 6th grade; 35% were in 7th grade, while 31% were in 8th grade. Table 1 summarizes the survey responses.

Table 1

Summary of Responses to Survey Questions

SURVEY QUESTION

SCALE NUMBER

TOTAL RESPONSES

COMPUTED

CHI-SQUARE VALUE

TABLED

CHI-SQUARE VALUE

1

2

3

4

No Response

1

11

20

11

9

1

52

17.6154

13.277

2

8

12

14

16

2

52

11.8462

13.277

3

8

24

12

8

0

52

13.2308

11.345

4

3

12

9

28

0

52

26.3077

11.345

5

8

18

12

13

1

52

15.5

13.277

Research Question One

Is the academic performance of junior high school students influenced by their choice of extracurricular activities? Question 1 of the survey instrument located in Appendix C addressed this research question.

Because the Chi-square value for question 1 is greater than the tabled Chi-square value at the .01 level of significance, it can be suggested that participation in extracurricular activities improves academic performance.

This finding aligns with Guest (2003), who reported, “Researchers have found positive associations between extracurricular participation and academic achievement” (Para. 2). Marsh and Kleitman (2002) support this finding, claiming that many extracurricular activities have proven to be beneficial in building and strengthening academic achievement, even if the activities are not obviously related to academic subjects (Para. 9). The findings are further supported by Darling et al. (2005), whose study showed that students who participated in school-based extracurricular activities had higher grades, higher academic aspirations, and better academic attitudes than those who were not involved in extracurricular activities at all (Para. 23-35). Research conducted by Broh (2002) neither completely contradicts, nor completely supports these findings. He reported that “participation in some activities improves [academic] achievement, while participation in others diminishes [academic] achievement” (Para. 1).

Research Question Two

What effects do specific activities have on academic performance? Questions 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the survey instrument located in Appendix C addressed this Research Question.

The results of the analysis revealed that the calculated values for questions 3, 4, and 5 were at the .01 significance level, and suggest that students feel that participation in sports, watching television, and participation in community service each improve academic achievement. The results of the analysis for question 2 revealed that the calculated value was not at the .01 significance level and suggest that participation in musical performance does not improve academic performance.

The finding from question 2 deviates from Kelstrom’s (1998) research, which revealed that “music students reach higher academic achievement levels in academic studies that non-music students” (Para. 26). Research conducted by the College Board also contradicts this finding, reporting that “music/art students consistently scored significantly higher on both the math and verbal sections of the SAT” (Kelstrom, 1998, para. 1). The finding from question 3 agrees with Stephens and Schaben (2002), who found that students who participated in at least one sport each year outperformed those who participated in one or less, in class rank, overall GPA, and math GPA (Para. 6). A portion of Broh’s (2002) research aligns with this finding, reporting that participation in “interscholastic sports raises students’ grades and test scores” (Para. 2). However, some of Broh’s (2002) other research deviates from this finding, indicating that “with the exception of a few subgroups and outcomes, participation in sports is generally unrelated to educational achievement” and that “playing sports in high school has no significant effect on grades or standardized test scores in the general student population” (Para. 5). The finding from question 4 deviates from Marsh and Kleitman (2002), who found that “more time in extracurricular activities and structured groups and less time watching TV [are] associated with higher test scores and school grades” (Para. 15). Bar-on (1999) contradicts this finding, showing that there is a “correlation between high rates of television viewing and aggressive and violent behavior, [and] lower academic performance” (Para. 2). Thompson and Austin (2003) neither entirely support nor entirely reject this finding, saying some studies have “found no significant relationship” between television viewing and academic performance, and a few studies have found a large and significant relationship, while most have discovered a small, yet significant relationship. They claim that television viewing has a positive impact “up to a certain amount, and a negative impact after a point of saturation” (p. 195). The finding from question 5 agrees with Hinck and Brandell (1999), who stated that service learning has proven to have a positive effect on academic performance (Para. 4). Simon’s (2001) research also correlates with this finding, reporting that “volunteering activities positively influenced student grades, course credits completed, attendance, behavior, and school preparedness” (Para. 1).

Findings

The results of the One-dimensional Chi-square test suggest that participation in extracurricular activities improves academic performance; participation in musical performance does not improve academic performance; athletic participation improves academic performance; watching television improves academic performance; and participation in community service improves academic performance among the junior high students attending Walnut Creek Christian Academy.

DISCUSSION

Within the stated purpose and findings of this study, the following conclusions appear warranted:

1. Participation in extracurricular activities has a positive effect on academic performance among the sampled junior high students at Walnut Creek Christian Academy.

2. Participation in athletics, television viewing, and community service improve academic performance, while participation in musical performance does not improve academic performance among the sampled junior high students attending Walnut Creek Christian Academy.

Generally, students who participate in extracurricular activities benefit academically. Students, school administrators and teachers, and parents all need to be aware of the effects that participation in extracurricular activities has on the academic performance of students. Furthermore, they also need to be aware of the specific extracurricular activities available to them and the effects that each specific activity has on academic performance. Not every child will benefit from or be impaired in the same manner that studies revealed concerning extracurricular activities. Each student performs at his or her own level of ability and one cannot expect excessive amounts of academic abilities from a child solely because he or she is actively involved in several extracurricular activities.

Parents need to be cautious that they do not force their children into participating in activities for the sole purpose of increasing their academic performance. Children have likes, dislikes, and interests. There are some extracurricular activities that they will enjoy and others that will not fit their taste and personality. Parents need to determine where their students’ interests and abilities lie and allow them to participate in those, if they choose.

Conversely, parents should not forbid their children from participating in any extracurricular activities. Participating in such activities has the potential of benefiting the child in more than simply an academic sense—it also aids them in developing social skills, life skills, and talents.

Extracurricular activities serve a large purpose in the academic, social, physical, and cognitive development of children, and every child should have the opportunity to participate in at least one activity that suits his or her personality and interests. These activities, however, should be directed toward improving their development and should involve some mental and/or physical ability. Watching television is not necessarily a beneficial activity and should be limited. Parents need to give their children some freedom in determining which activities to participate in, but still need to monitor how their children spend their time. Parents have a large role in the academic development of their children, and one way of fostering strong academic performance is by encouraging their young children to become involved in some of the activities which promote academic performance. This could influence their activity choices later on in life and may set the foundation for a life of academic success and progress.

Limitations of the Study

Several limitations to this study existed. The sample population consisted only of junior high school students enrolled at Walnut Creek Christian Academy during the 2004-2005 school year. Because all students surveyed were from the same private school and geographic location, the variety of responses was probably biased. In addition, the quality of the activities each student recorded on their survey is not known. Although the findings for this study pertain mainly to the students of Walnut Creek Christian Academy, a general trend may be observed and conclusions drawn.

Recommendations for Further Study

This study provides some information regarding the issue of extracurricular activities and whether they benefit or hinder the academic performance of students who participate. Additional questions pertaining to whether or not extracurricular activities benefit or hinder the academic performance of students who participate warrant further investigation; thus the following recommendations for further research and study are offered:

1. This study should be replicated, using a different population to determine whether extracurricular activities benefit or hinder the academic performance of students who participate.

2. A study should be conducted to determine the effects of parental support in extracurricular activities on academic achievement.

3. The effects of different extracurricular activities than were researched in this study should be evaluated.

4. The views of extracurricular activities of various countries and their levels of academic performance should be compared to those of the United States.

5. The effects of interscholastic extracurricular activities on academic performance should be compared to the effects of extracurricular activities outside of school.

6. Research concerning the effects of extracurricular activities on different aged children could be conducted.

7. Research determining which academic subject areas are most influenced by extracurricular activities can be done.


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APPENDIX A

 

APPENDIX B

APPENDIX C

Survey Instrument

Please circle the most accurate response to each statement. “Extra curricular activities” includes any activity in which you participate that are not related to your academics. Examples of extracurricular activities are sports, music performance, watching television, volunteering, church activities and ministry, etc.

1. I am currently in      6th      7th      8th grade.

2. I usually spend      0-5      6-10      11-15      16-20      21+      hours each week watching television.

3. My favorite type of television program is

     Sitcom      Drama      Cartoon      Reality Show      Educational      Other

4. On average, I spend      0-5      6-10      11-15     16-20      21+      hours per week on extracurricular activities, excluding television.

5. My overall average on my last report card was

     0-59%      60-69%     70-79%      80-89%      90-100%      Don’t Remember


The following questions are based on the Likert-scale. Please circle the number that best matches your opinion – do not mark between numbers. The responses are based on a 4-point scale, with one being agree and four being disagree.

1 = I agree with the statement

2 = I agree somewhat with the statement

3 = I disagree somewhat with the statement

4 = I disagree with the statement

1. My grades improve when I am involved in extracurricular activities.

1            2            3            4     

I agree                                       I disagree

2. When I participate in musical performance (play a musical instrument) my grades improve.

1            2            3            4     

I agree                                       I disagree

3. When I participate in sports my grades improve.

1            2            3            4     

I agree                                       I disagree

4. When I watch television my grades improve.

1            2            3            4     

I agree                                       I disagree

5. When I participate in community service my grades improve.

1            2            3            4     

I agree                                       I disagree

Thank you so much for your time!!



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