Subject and Research
Research was performed on the claim of fact that students involved in extracurricular activities receive higher grades than those not involved in activities. This topic was studied because high school budgets are meager, and the administrations of these schools want to spend the money efficiently. Consequently, funding for extracurricular activities may be decreased. This report examines the correlation between extracurricular activities and academic performance.
The scope of the investigation only includes high school students and the relationship between their involvement in activities and their academic performance. Some collegiate level studies were used since the benefits of extracurricular activities in high school and college are the same.
Three experts in different fields that have knowledge of this area of research were interviewed. Laura Bestler, assistant director of student activities at the Iowa State University Student Activities Center, was interviewed since she is an expert on the activities that take place on the Iowa State campus and the benefits students attain by becoming involved in activities. Matt Craft, president of the Government of the Student Body at Iowa State University, was also interviewed because the Government of the Student Body, or GSB, supports and funds many campus activities. The intention of this component of the research was to discover why the GSB finds extracurricular activities so beneficial that they choose to financially support them. Erin Fowkes, a high school counselor at Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School in Ida Grove, Iowa, was interviewed to obtain information as to why it is important for students to participate in activities in high school. The questions asked of these individuals are found in Appendix A. The other two sources were papers that had been presented at conferences, and they were found at the Iowa State University Parks Library in the Microfilms Collection. The first paper entitled "High School Extracurricular Activities and College Grades" by Mary Rombokas studies the relationship between high academic marks and involvement in extracurricular activities. This article includes a survey performed by Rombokas on this subject. The second article referenced was "Student Perceptions of the Intercollegiate Athletic Program at a Community College" by Judith S. Berson. This is a study on how participating on a collegiate level softball team affected the team members grades.
The key points that will be made in this claim of fact are that students involved in extracurricular activities receive better grades than those who are not involved in extracurricular activities. In addition, activities improve the overall student. Therefore, they help students to receive better grades by teaching them character building lessons, teaching them lifelong skills, saving some at risk students who would possibly drop out of school, and helping students develop social skills.
Mary Rombokas performed a study of college-aged students who were involved in extracurricular activities in high school to discover if there was in fact a correlation between involvement in activities and academic achievement. She concluded after questioning two hundred ninety-two college students that "participation in extracurricular activities enhances both the intellectual and social development of students" (Rombokas 21). Through her own research, she discovered that athletes attain higher grade point averages than those students not in athletics (Rombokas 6). In addition, Rombokas found that a national survey performed by Durbin in 1984 showed that participants in extracurricular activities in high school received better grades when they were participating in activities than when they were not participating in activities (Rombokas 8).
A myriad of components contribute to the reasons why extracurricular activities benefit students academically. One of these reasons is that students learn character-building lessons that they can apply to their study habits and to their lives. Activities such as athletics, music, theater, and organizations teach students how to discipline themselves through drills, practices, or rehearsals (Rombokas 8). The students have a responsibility to the activity and must perform the tasks assigned to them whether it be to run, sing, act, or organize an event. By participating and persevering in any of these activities, the students gain a sense of self-respect, self-esteem, and self-confidence (Rombokas 23). Extracurricular activities give them pride in their accomplishments, and they learn that if an activity is worth doing, it is worth doing well (Rombokas 11). Students echoed Rombokas conclusions because on her survey 74.6% reported that they felt team sports are an excellent way to build character (Rombokas 18).
Through extracurricular activities, students learn life skills that benefit their studies. Matt Craft, president of the Iowa State University Government of the Student Body, stated that being involved teaches students organization and time management skills. Because activities take time out of the students schedules, the involved students must plan their time wisely and efficiently to complete the assigned tasks (Craft). In Bersons investigation of the community college softball team, she also found that the students had to learn to budget their time for their studies and four-hour per day softball practices (Berson 21). In addition to organizational skills, extracurricular activities in the arts teach students analytical skills and creative problem solving skills since they have to think creatively to successfully perform music, act in a play, or produce a work of art (Rombokas 10).
Students at Risk
Not only do extracurricular activities help students that are already successful in school to further excel, they also help students that are at risk of dropping or flunking out to remain in school. Erin Fowkes, counselor at the Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School, stated that students involved in activities at that high school cannot flunk more than two classes or they will be unable to participate. Therefore, the borderline students who thoroughly enjoy their activity work hard to pass their classes in order that they may continue to participate (Fowkes). In Rombokas research, she found that extracurricular activities are the only component that makes some students stay in school and attend regularly (Rombokas 10). Another benefit of extracurricular activities for at risk students is that it lessens the number of discipline problems. Rombokas discovered in her research that "high school athletes were considerably less involved in school-related deviance, non-school related deviance, drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse, and serious offenses with the law" (Rombokas 8). Extracurricular activities give students positive activities in which to be involved, and they spend their time in a productive manner. Also, some high schools have policies that students cannot participate in activities if they have violated the law (Fowkes).
Although social aspects of a students life do not directly affect his or her grade point average, they do affect the overall wellbeing of the student. Education is not solely learned by reading the textbook for students can learn an incredible amount from their peers through extracurricular activities. Students learn how to compromise and work in a group. Extracurricular activities also allow students to meet and interact with peers that may not be within their close group of friends. In addition, extracurricular activities help to enhance these social skills and teach lessons not learned in a classroom. Laura Bestler, assistant director of the student activities at the Student Activities Center, said that extracurricular activities are an effective way to network and meet other people with whom the students can study (Bestler). Reinforcing Bestlers statement, Erin Fowkes commented that extracurricular activities teach students to work in teams and work cooperatively, skills that will help students be successful in school and attain jobs in the future (Fowkes).
Therefore, administrations of schools ought to continue their funding of extracurricular activities since it clearly benefits the students academic achievement. Schools should encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities since they benefit the students in so many ways. Also, the schools should educate the coaches and group sponsors on the influence that the extracurricular activities have on the students lives. Activities are not solely about what the score is, how many wins or losses are attained during a season, or what place is won at a competition. They provide and instruct students with lessons that will last them a lifetime.
Interview questions for Laura Bestler, Matt Craft, and Erin Fowkes
Berson, Judith S. (1996, March). Stuent Perceptions of the Intercollegiate Athletic
Program at a Community College. Paper Presented at the Annual Convention for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Atlanta, GA. ERIC Document ED404607.
Bestler, Laura. Telephone Interview. 11 Oct. 1999.
Craft, Matthew. Telephone Interview. 11 Oct. 1999.
Fowkes, Erin. Telephone Interview. 11 Oct. 1999.
Rombokas, Mary. (1995, October). High School Extracurricular Activities and College
Grades. Paper Presented at the Southeastern Conference of Counseling Personnel, Jekyll Island, GA. ERIC Document ED391134.