Do Extra-curricular Activities in Schools Improve Educational Outcomes?: Article Review
Name of the Journal : Do Extra-curricular Activities in Schools Improve Educational Outcomes?
A Critical Review and Meta-analysis of The Literature
Issues/ Volume : Int. Rev. Educ. (2010) 56
Page Number : 591-612
Prepared for : Dr. Johan @ Eddy Luaran
Prepared by : Mohd Nur Fadzly bin Basar
ID Number : 2013 309 367
Course : Research Methodology (EDU 702)
This study was written by the great scholar, Associate Professor Boaz Shulruf from The Centre for Medical
and Health Sciences Education, The University of Auckland, New Zealand which is hub for educational
research and scholarship within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, working across the Schools
of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Population Health to promote excellence in teaching and learning.
This study is the meta-analysis with the objective to answer the question, do extra-curricular activities
(ECA) in schools support positive educational outcomes for the students. Meta-analysis study can be
simply defined as the research to study the research. The author has put a bundle of effort to assemble
a lot of studies that share the identical area of study about ECA in the hope to find the identifying patterns
from the results of those studies. The question of this study is corresponding to with the issue of quality
demonstrated by the curriculum teacher in typical Malaysian school, which is why it is important for the
researcher in this area of study. In addressing this demand, the author stressed a lot on the importance
of allocating more resources to ECA to ensure the development of the students.
Furthermore, this research not only explore the range of educational outcomes gain by the students who
systematically joined the ECA, but it also covers the widely validation of the previous studies have stated.
2. A Description of Methodology
All in all, this study methodically reviews what have been said in the previous studies examining the causal
effects of participation in ECA at a secondary school on the self-development of the students. The major
part of experiment talked about the previous research conducted by various research. The author by his
review team has drawn up a list of possible keywords in order to look for the suitable studies related to
ECA and its effect to students.
Taking a team approach to define a possible keyword, they had encompassed an extensive range of
sources including academic databases: ERIC, JSTOR, Proquest and etc. Besides, the grey literatures also
had been used to support any information gained from academic databases. Wikipedia has defined grey
literatures as material that informally published and very difficult to be found in the conventional channels
as it is not commercially published and not broadly accessible such as practitioner journals, books,
government reports and patents.
The result for the search has identified 136 studies that met the criteria. However, the filtering process
which is the second stage of the search only identified 88 studies those met the criteria for population,
type of activities and outcomes. The third filtering stage of the article examination came out with 58
studies and final examination revealed that only 29 studies have described enough methodology and
findings of the research.
On top of everything, this study had systematically studied quantitative researches explaining the causal
effects of partaking in ECA on student’s educational outcomes such as, academic achievement, life skills,
communication and leadership capability.
The author did adequately establish the significance of the research question. The research
question of this study is what it is about ECA participation that supports positive educational
outcomes? The author did a lot of review from the various research that had been chosen through
deep and comprehensive filtration process in order to meet the aim of the study.
In order to be appropriate and applicable enough to the research question, this study followed
the recommendations of the ESRC UK Centre for Evidence-Based Policy and Practice for guiding a
systematic review search. Systematic reviews of previous literature on the effects of participation
in ECA are carried out to obeyed research standards in order to support the objective of the
research with the slightest level of bias.
The author considered reviews on 29 studies done before those related to this study represent
the current knowledge on ECA participation. He concluded that ECA is not causation but
associations with regard to those educational outcomes of the students. This study led the author
to jump into conclusion that current knowledge does not suggest that ECA affect student’s
educational outcomes either positively or negatively. The conclusion, in fact, answering the
question of the research.
To the degree how I reviewed this study, I did not find any methodological errors or weaknesses
in this paper. The search for the various previous studies has been done through tight systematic
reviews and agreed the research standards. All in all, to be aware of that this study has followed
all the methodological requirement cannot be denied. The tendency to commit the
methodological bias while doing the search for literature has always been observed. The further
efforts to avoid bias is, all the decision making was made through a collaborative team approach.
Indeed, ethical concerns need to be overlooked and emphasize in research making. The principles
of honesty, openness, respect for intellectual property and carefulness have been observed
cautiously. The society owns the perception that ECA has a causal effect to the students, however
the author has taken the high level of honesty by concluding that current knowledge does not
suggest that ECA affect student’s educational outcomes either positively or negatively. He also
opens the study for further research, critics and suggestion because there are still rooms for
improvement to study ECA. Besides, the search for the studies than by previous researchers has
gone through a very tight and strict filtration process, considering peer and non-peer review
literature and collect from a very wide sources to observe the quality of the meta-analysis of those
4. Discussion of Implication
Every school in our country and generally in the world are equipped by the ECA for their students.
They have a certain budget to be spent to ECA. We share the same belief that ECA is important to
students as it teach students what they have not learned in the class period. But the question is why
this study does not in line with what all teachers believe in? Is what we believe about ECA wrong?
The author has come out with the conclusive end that ECA cannot be consider possess the causal
effect to the educational outcomes of the students positively or negatively. This shock finding leads
to the conclusion that the results of the research are not necessarily right all over the time. The results
might be right in some range of time, but the degree of relevancy in research may not be applied in
other time. However we need current result for the further studies and references in the future.
Research is the unstoppable and continuous process to find what is right for humankind.
Likewise, our belief also can be right or the reverse. For a moment, ECA is still relevant and
important to our children in the school. But the issues of effectiveness and quality of implementation
should be observed always and continuously. It is possible to assume that this study did not intend to
prove that ECA is unnecessary but rather to tell us that our low-quality implementation of ECA is the
one that should be blamed. Our lacking in how we carried ECA out to our students is the main factor
why this study concludes that ECA does not have a significant causal effect to student’s development.
On top of everything, this study hopefully has opened the eyes of educators that they have to put
a tons of effort in order to make ECA always relevant to students academically and holistically.