Dissertation: Co-Curricular Activities High School

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Co-Curricular Activities

High school can be a difficult time for adolescents as they grow into adults and prepare to move away from home. This time period can be complicated further by social pressures. In the past several studies have suggested that engaging in co-curricular activities can facilitate the development necessary to assist students as they move on the next phase in life. However, there are many students of color who are not always as involved in co-curricular as their White peers.

Co-curricular activities are inclusive of sports, academic clubs and other school cubs. Involvement in these activities has been found to give students a sense of belonging and school pride. Belonging and school pride are important for students to possess because they motivate students attend school and perform well academically. In addition the social interaction given to students through these activities increases confidence and makes students more well rounded. School engagement is also important for students' future academic careers as students who participate in co-curricular activities in high school are more likely to engage in similar activities in college. Students who are engaged in these activities in college are more likely to complete college.

Although there is significant evidence to suggest that co-curricular activities are essential to academic success, a great deal of research has found that students of color are less likely to engage in these activities. Some of the reasons for lack of engagement may be inclusive of socio-economic status, the absence of clubs that cater to their interests and peers that look down upon engagement in certain school activities.

Problem Statement

Students of color are less likely to participate in co-curricular activities than are their

White peers. Lack of engagement in co-curricular activities increases the likelihood that students will drop out of high school. Those who do graduate from high school and go on to college are likely to have a more difficult time in completing college because they are less likely to engage in co-curricular activities in college. Co-curricular involvement in high school is critical for academic success and advancement. As such the absence of students of color in co-curricular activities has a devastating impact on their ability to engage in school.

Research Questions

The research questions for the proposed study are as follows"

1. Why are students of color less likely to participate in co-curricular activities?

2. Is there a correlation between lack of participation in co-curricular activities and attrition rates and academic performance?

3. What steps can be taken to increase the numbers of students of color participating in co-curricular activities?

Purpose of Study

The purpose of the proposed study is to uncover the reasons why high school students of color do not participate in co-curricular activities at the same rate as their White counterparts. The research will seek to uncover the relationship, if any, between the absence of students of color in co-curricular activities and dropout rates, attendance and grades.

Review of Literature

Benefits of co-curricular activities

The push for students to have access to co-curricular activities in high school is caused by the perceived benefits of such activities. For instance the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) asserts that activities including interscholastic sports and fine arts encourage citizenship and sportsmanship. These activities also "instill a sense of pride in community, teach lifelong lessons of teamwork and self-discipline and facilitate the physical and emotional development of our nation's youth." The article further explains that there are three main benefits associated with co-curricular activities including:

1. Support of the Academic Mission of Schools- Activities do not serve as a diversion to academics, instead they are an extension of academic programs. Participation in such activities leads to higher grade-point averages, lower dropout rates better attendance records, and decreases in disciplinary problems ("The Case for High School Activities").

2. Activities are Educational. Activities are needed because they provide students with important lessons for practical situations. These situations include sportsmanship, teamwork, and hard work. Participation in co-curricular activities teaches self-confidence, self-discipline, and how to manage competitive situations. These are characteristics that schools are expect to instill in students to prepare them for adulthood ("The Case for High School Activities").

3. Foster Success in Later Life. Students who Participate in high school activities are usually successful in college, a career and becoming a contributing member of society.

The article further explains that co-curricular activities also help kids to stay out of trouble once school is over. The article asserts that

"School-age children and teens who are unsupervised during the hours after school are far more likely to use alcohol, drugs and tobacco, engage in criminal and other high-risk behaviors, receive poor grades, and drop out of school than those children who have the opportunity to benefit from constructive activities supervised by responsible adults. In a 1994

Harris poll, more than one-half of teachers singled out "children who are left on their own after school" as the primary explanation for students' difficulties in class. This information comes from the National Education Commission on Time and Learning ("The Case for High School Activities")."

Research has also found that Voisin & Neilands (2010) also asserts that involvement in school activities reduces the likelihood that youths will engage in risky sex. They report that one study found that "among a group of multiethnic youth aged 10 through 17, school bonding was predictive of lower rates of alcohol abuse and dependency over a five-year period. It is widely acknowledged that drug use during sexual activity increases the likelihood of engaging in risky sex (Voisin & Neilands (2010)." Additionally the authors report that the correlation between sexual activity and school engagement variables can be defined by social control theory. Social control theory asserts that the kinship to traditional society is dependent upon four elements: belief in traditional values, attachment to others, participation in traditional activities, and a bond to traditional society. The traditional characteristics described are usually reflected on prosocial environments including schools. As such when the connects to these environments is weak or unstable there is an increased likelihood that students will be attracted to peers who engage in risky behaviors including sex.

Overall, the research thus far suggests that there are many benefits associated with participation in school activities. The research asserts that co-curricular activities offer students a different type of learning experience and these experiences translate into the classroom and into life. Qualities such as teamwork are important throughout the academic career of students and as such a great deal of focus must be placed on ensuring that students are exposed to co-curricular activities. The research also suggests that co-curricular activities are of particular importance to adolescents because they keep them out of trouble. Many young people engage in deviant behaviors right after school when they could be participating in co-curricular activities. These activities give students a focus that is positive and keeps them out of trouble. The research also explains that engagement in co-curricular activities decreases the likelihood that young people will engage in risky behaviors because these activities connect them to school and the traditional values that are held at school. When students are not engaged in school activities, they tend to engage more frequently in risky behaviors.

Impact of co-curricular activities on Attendance and Grades

Most of the research on this topic asserts that participation in co-curricular activities enhances attendances and grades for students.

"A wide range of behaviors both in and out of school have been shown to predict dropout and graduation. One of the most important is student engagement, which includes students' active involvement in academic work (e.g., coming to class, doing homework) and the social aspects of school (e.g., participating in sports or other extracurricular activities). Research consistently finds that high absenteeism -- one specific indicator of engagement -- is associated with higher dropout rates. Misbehavior in high school and delinquent behavior outside of high school are both significantly associated with higher dropout and lower graduation rates (Rumberger & Lim, 2008)."

In addition to lower drop-out rates studies have shown that students who participate in co-curricular activities have better attendance than students who do not participate in these activities. Students want to go to school not only because they want to participate in co-curricular activities but also because they are invested in the school and engaged in the activities available through the school.

Lastly, the grade point averages of those students who participate in co-curricular activities are also higher. This is due in part to the fact that many activities require that students maintain a certain GPA to participate in the activity. If the activity is something that the student really enjoys, the maintaining good grades become the incentive to be able to continue with the activity. Additionally once students become involved in certain activities at school such as sports they also begin to feel a responsibility toward their teammates to keep their grades up so that the team can benefit.

School engagement

Dotterer et al. (2007) explains that School engagement can be… [END OF PREVIEW]

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