Students' Voices on the Extracurriculum: A Curriculum Necessity
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Schools have been given responsibilities to engage young people in order that they may be educated. Aside from providing core curriculum components, schools across the world undertake other activities with students, some of which are labelled extracurricular. Research has identified benefits for students who participate in these activities, often linked with school engagement and increased academic success as well as non-academic and social benefits, all of which imply that processes exist within these activities, embedded in their school contexts, that aid student development. Other research of school and community activities has addressed positive youth development, however, the processes and mechanisms by which students develop in the secondary school extracurriculum are not yet made clear. Guided by Blumer’s (1969) symbolic interactionism, this study aimed at exploring the meanings held by students about their learning in the extracurriculum. In order to gain insight into how students perceived their learning by participating in secondary school extracurricular activities, a multiple case study in three schools was undertaken. The schools were chosen because all had well-functioning extracurricular programs and because they represented a range of characteristics in terms of school size, school governance, and student gender. Data were gathered using nominal group techniques (Delbecq, Van de Ven, & Gustafson, 1975) in focus group discussions. Because activity in this extracurricular context is not formally assessed, student voice was paramount in eliciting a deep understanding of the participants’ development. Data were analysed using grounded theory methods (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) both within and across cases. From the resulting categories of learning taken from experience of the extracurriculum, a students’ view was distilled as a tentative model to explain this curriculum phenomenon. The model includes the diverse and comprehensive range of learnings students identify under four broad categories: social, physical, intellectual, and personal learnings. Findings from the study contribute to knowledge about student development in extracurricular activities, an understanding of the extracurriculum as an essential contributor to that development, and acknowledgment that student voice has a vital role to play in informing curriculum development, implementation, and evaluation in secondary schools. Given its rich potential for student development and its likely impact upon their future lives, the extracurriculum should be repositioned as an integral part of secondary school curriculum—a curriculum necessity.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Education and Professional Studies
Item Access Status
Extracurriculum in secondary education