2007)." The authors also explain that there is a great deal of interest in the concept of school engagement because it is believed to be influenced by environmental changes (Fredricks et al., 2004; Dotterer et al. 2007). As a result of racial and ethnic achievement gaps, the study of school engagement amongst students of color is essential to closing these gaps. Previous research uncovered a pattern of underachievement in African-American students who have lower grades and receive less education than non-Hispanic White students (Dotterer et al. 2007).
According to Jimerson et al. (2003) there are three dimensions of school engagement: affective, behavioral, and cognitive. The affective dimension is associated with an emotional connection to school and the sense of belonging that students have with their school. Additionally this dimension of school engagement is often referred to as school attachment (Johnson et al., 2001). The affective dimension of school engagement "reflects the extent to which students feel close to people at their school, feel a part of their school, and are happy to be at their school…the affective bond between students and their schools is "identification with school" (Jimerson et al. 2003; Dotterer et al. 2007),."
Additionally, the behavioral dimension of school engagement refers to the observable actions or performance of students. Behavior is assessed using tools such as the completion of homework, paying attention, attendance,, and grades (Jordan, 2000; Johnson et al., 2001; Dotterer et al. 2007). Lastly, the cognitive dimension of school engagement refers to the perceptions and beliefs of students associated with self, teachers, school, and peers at school. Additionally, illustrations of the cognitive dimension include a sense of self-efficacy in addition to academic motivation and aspirations of students (Jimerson et al., 2003; Dotterer et al. 2007). Each of these dimensions plays a role in ensuring that students are well rounded and fully engaged in the school environment.
Overall, school activities provide students with an opportunity for school engagement. School engagement is important because it facilitates the presence of school pride and belonging. When students feel that they belong they are more likely to stay focused in behave in ways consistent with the expectations established by the school. The various dimensions of school engagement represent the various ways that school engagement impacts students in the academic setting. The research suggests that school engagement is an extremely positive attribute that is created as the result of participation in school activities. The absence of school engagement leads to students who do not have a sense of belonging and as such their performance in school is often mediocre and may not reflect their true academic abilities.
The impact Co-curricular activities
There are several impacts of co curricular activities. These impacts involve the development of adolescents and providing a foundation for success in college. The following paragraphs will explain these outcomes of co-curricular activities in greater detail.
The development of adolescents is vitally important and co-curricular activities provide an opportunity for such development to occur. According to Feldman & Matjasko (2005)
"The settings of extracurricular activities serve as a place to act out the developmental tasks of adolescence. It is believed that extracurricular activities offer a means to express and explore one's identity, generate social and human capital, and offer a challenging setting outside of academics. Adolescents form their identity by developing skills, discovering preferences, and associating themselves with others (Youniss et al., 2002). Being a member of a particular group structures what individuals do with their time and the kinds of values and norms to which they are exposed. Participating in extracurricular activities helps adolescents come to understand themselves by observing and interpreting their own behavior when they are engaged in these activities (Valentine, Cooper, Bettencourt, & DuBois, 2002; Feldman & Matjasko 2005)."
With these things understood, the ways in which adolescents interact with their peers can have an impact on the activities that they choose to engage in. In addition this interaction influences the nature of their developmental pathway (Feldman & Matjasko 2005). The authors also report that at some future point in adolescence, young people may even choose an activities based on the ability of the activity to confirm the aspects of their identity that they value (Feldman & Matjasko 2005).
Additionally as it pertains to academic development tasks, past studies have suggested that participation in extracurricular activities presents young people with the chance to increase their social capital through extended supportive networks of both friends and adults (Kahne et al., 2001; Feldman & Matjasko 2005). Additionally the time that adolescents spend engaging in after-school co-curricular activities serves as a contrast to the normally quick-paced schedule students adhere to during the school day (Feldman & Matjasko 2005). While engaged in extracurricular activities, students are given the opportunities to get to know peers and adults in a better way which facilitates better personal bonding, mutual trust and loyalty (Feldman & Matjasko 2005). In addition engagement in co-curricular activities provides students with the chance to develop mentoring or coaching relationships (Feldman & Matjasko 2005). This type of relationship development is important because mentors and coaches often supply students with the assistance and motivation needed to meet their personal goals and to excel in various aspects of life including academics. In addition the presence of this type of relationship may be present later on in life in the workforce or in college.
Participation in co-curricular activities is also important of adolescents because it assists them in the forging of personal relationships with other students who have similar interests (Feldman & Matjasko 2005). There is also the likelihood that participation permits students to interact with adults from the school or community who are there to provide support for the activity (Dworkin, Larson, & Hansen, 2003; Smith, 2003; Feldman & Matjasko 2005). Such interaction is believed to encourage school engagement and to improve scholastic achievement (Feldman & Matjasko 2005). For instance, a case study involving nine high-achieving female high school students, researchers found that the subjects recognized engagement in extracurricular activities, as being extremely significant to their accomplishments by permitting them to develop supportive networks of peers and adults who had achieved a great deal (Feldman & Matjasko 2005).
Lastly the authors explain that extracurricular activities are important because they present students with a challenging setting outside of academics that helps them maintain contact with the school environment (Feldman & Matjasko 2005). The authors also assert that for many students co-curricular activities allow them to develop additional skills and recognition that beyond that associated with academic achievement. On the other hand, "for others, activities may be the only place to obtain success tied to the school context, in that such success would not be obtained through academics. While support for this notion is largely theoretical, one study comparing students who were athlete-scholars, athletes only, scholars only, and neither athletes nor scholars showed that members of the "athletes-only" group had more friendship nominations and were more likely to part of the "leading crowd" than members of the "scholars-only" group (Feldman & Matjasko 2005)."
The authors also report that students who excelled in sports related activities instead of academics were still able to receive the acknowledgment and respect of their peers, which was correlated with enhanced psychosocial outcomes (Feldman & Matjasko 2005). Additionally, "the issue of self-selection into activity participation must always be considered. It is possible that students who are more likely be in the "leading crowd" regardless of participation are those who also choose to participate in sports (Feldman & Matjasko 2005). Selection issues, while difficult to account for in most research on extracurricular activity participation, must at least be acknowledged as a factor (Feldman & Matjasko 2005)."
Collegiate impact of co-curricular activities in High School
One the primary benefits of co-curricular activities in high school is that such involvement translates to involvement in college activities and a greater likelihood of college completion. According to Kuh et al. (2008)
"psychosocial engagement," or the energy students invest in social interactions, directly influences the degree to which they are socially integrated into college life. The student engagement construct used in this study is consistent with the theoretical models that feature the interplay between student behaviors and perceptions of the institution and psychosocial engagement. Student engagement represents both the time and energy students invest in educationally purposeful activities and the effort institutions devote to using effective educational practices (Kuh, 2001). Some studies (e.g., Hughes & Pace, 2003) show that students who leave college prematurelyare less engaged than their counterparts who persist (Kuh et al., 2008)."
On the other hand the majority of the research that examines the realationship between student engagement and college outcomes has as a foundation single institution studies. These studies do not necessarily "control for student background characteristics, limiting their generalizability to specific institutions or institutional types (Kuh et al.,…