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Bowman, etima seven ways to increase at risk student participation in extra-curricular activties

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Dr. W.A. Kritsonis, www.nationalforum.com

Dr. W.A. Kritsonis, www.nationalforum.com

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  • 1. NATIONAL FORUM OF TEACHER EDUCATION JOURNAL VOLUME 18 NUMBER 3, 2008 1 Seven Ways to Increase At-Risk Student Participation in Extra-curricular Activities Etima Bowman Graduate Student in Educational Leadership and Counseling The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Prairie View A&M University Prairie View, Texas David E. Herrington, PhD Associate Professor of Educational Leadership Director of the Principal’s Academy The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Prairie View A&M University A Member of the Texas A&M University System Prairie View, Texas William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Professor and Faculty Mentor PhD Program in Educational Leadership The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Prairie View A&M University Member of the Texas A&M University System Prairie View, Texas Visiting Lecturer (2005) Oxford Round Table University of Oxford, Oxford, England Distinguished Alumnus (2004) Central Washington University College of Education and Professional Studies Ellensburg, Washington ABSTRACT Extra-curricular activities historically have provided reluctant students with specific talent-related groups of other student’s with whom they can identify, interacting in meaningful, goal-oriented contexts. The experienced guidance and structure provided by caring adults is another beneficial feature provided by extra- curricular participation. Ironically, at-risk students who need these things in their lives, have various barriers and reasons for not participating. They tend to be vastly under-represented in extra-curricular activities. This article provides suggestions for increasing their participation. ________________________________________________________________________
  • 2. NATIONAL FORUM OF TEACHER EDUCATION JOURNAL 2_____________________________________________________________________________________ Introduction Increasing the involvement of at-risk student participation in extracurricular activities is critical to reaching these particular students to ensure academic achievement. This article provides suggestions for increasing the participation of at-risk students. Purpose of the Article The purpose of this article is to give seven ways to increase at-risk student participation in extracurricular activities. Research has demonstrated that extra-curricular activities have a positive effect on at-risk children. Researchers Identify Key Factors The study entitled, “The Effects of Homework Programs and After-School Activities on School Success”, states that structured after-school activities have been associated with higher educational outcomes (Cosden, 2004). This study was informative because it listed both strengths and weaknesses of these programs. One weakness is that after-school homework programs are likely to reduce parental involvement in the homework process. It suggests that after-school activities can have a positive or negative impact on students, depending on the context in which they are experienced. Another study entitled, “Difference in Behavior, Psychological Factors, and Environment Factors Associated with Participation in School Sports and Other Activities in Adolescence”, examined whether participation in school team sports, exclusively or in combination with other extracurricular activities, is associated with higher levels of psychosocial functioning and healthy behavior than participation in other extracurricular activities alone or nonparticipation (Harrison, 2003). The researchers issued a survey which revealed that participants in any type of extracurricular activity were more likely than non-participants to exercise and consume nutritious foods, to like school and do homework, and to express positive attitudes about self, peers, teachers, and parents. Involved students were also less likely to skip school, get into fights, vandalize property, smoke cigarettes or marijuana, binge drink, or have sexual intercourse. The research showed that students involved with sports and other activities had more positive numbers that with sports alone. “Structured Extracurricular Activities among Adolescents” is a research study that suggests that structured extracurricular activities have the potential to promote mental health among all youths and particularly those placed at risk for negative academic and interpersonal outcomes (Gilman, 2004). It suggest that getting at-risk teens involved in a
  • 3. ETIMA BOWMAN, DAVID E. HERRINGTON, WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS _____________________________________________________________________________________3 structured activity of their choice, under the influence of positive social networks and competent adults, may lead to demonstrable positive outcomes (including high self- esteem and life satisfaction, engagement with school, social competence, improved school performance and graduation). Non-school sponsored activities can also be related positively to academic outcomes. Recommendations The following seven suggestions are aimed at increasing at-risk student participation in extra-curricular activities. 1. Be sure that the extracurricular activities are of interest to the students involved – When preparing to be of service to anyone, we must first identify their needs. This is very important in developing an extracurricular program. Students should have an opportunity to express their needs and interest. A survey is an effective tool used in gathering information on student interest. A sample student survey can be found at the end of this article. 2. Develop goals for the program – Program leaders and facilitators should have a shared vision and set goals for the program. This is the only way to measure program success. These goals should be written collaboratively in a mission statement. As students become members of the program, they should also develop goals and a plan to reach them. Facilitators should help the students develop ways to assess their progress towards meeting their goals. 3. Be sure to have competent and skilled leaders and facilitators – Adults that are chosen to help students grow and develop must be trained and prepared. They need time for collaboration and pre-planning for an effective program. They should also be skilled in the area that they are working in. Most importantly, they must have a passion for the activity and the growth of the students. 4. Provide academic assistance for struggling students – Many forms of assistance can be made available including peer tutoring and teacher led tutorials. Encourage students to seek help when needed and continue to stress the importance of academic success. Provide time for homework/study hall for all students so that the students who need extra help don’t feel like they are missing something important during the activity.
  • 4. NATIONAL FORUM OF TEACHER EDUCATION JOURNAL 4_____________________________________________________________________________________ 5. Encourage parental support – Be sure to keep the parents informed and involved in the program. Students tend to perform better with more parental involvement. This has a dual purpose. Parents can assist with monitoring and student encouragement. The program can help parents build positive relationships with their children. 6. Use time wisely and effectively – Time management is an important concept for all to learn. Leaders should be on time and prepared for the students. This should also be required of the students. No one wants to feel as if their time is being wasted. Use all time effectively so that the program will continue to positively impact students. 7. Evaluate the program – The effectiveness of any program must be evaluated. It is imperative that continuous monitoring and assessments be done. The program can be assessed by student and parental feedback. Program facilitators should continue to gather data and use it to make adjustments for the extracurricular program to meet its goals. Concluding Remarks In conclusion, increasing the involvement of at-risk student participation in extracurricular activities is critical to reaching this population to ensure academic achievement. These suggestions should lead school leaders to improve at-risk student participation in extracurricular activities. References Cosden, M., Morrison G., Gutierrez L., and Brown, M. (2004). The effects of homework programs and after-school activities on school success. Theory into Practice, 43(3), 220-226. Harrison, P., & Narayan, G. (2003). Differences in behavior, psychological factors, and environmental factors associated with participation in school sports and other activities in adolescence. Journal of School Health, 73(3), 113-120. Gilman, R., Meyers, J., & Perez L. (2004). Structured extracurricular activities among adolescents: findings and implications for school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), 31-41.