The Extracurriclum in Socio-Cultural Context: A Multi-Method Comparison of Extracurricular Activities and Adolescents in Distinct Social Class Communities
Andrew Guest

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Portland

Primary Discipline

Human Development
With an increasingly structured regular curriculum and intense pressure to provide opportunities to all children and youth, the extracurriculum has become fertile ground for hopes to improve American education. In the growing body of scholarly work on the educational role of extracurricular activities, however, most attention focuses on the nature of the activities themselves rather than on the contexts in which students experience activities. To better understand how the extracurriculum comprises a socio-cultural space, and thus has a wide range of possible effects on children and youth, my project involves a mixed methods study of the extracurriculum based on field research in two distinct community contexts: an urban school community serving an ethnically diverse low-income community and a suburban school community serving an ethnically homogeneous middle to upper income community. Drawing on perspectives from cultural psychology, developmental psychology, and sociology, I plan to compare and contrast extracurricular experiences, with a particular focus on sports programs and arts programs. Based on prior research, I expect that school and community contexts will significantly shape the nature of activity-based identities and the value of the developmental competencies (or “life-skills”) associated with activity participation. The ultimate goal of this research is to better understand how the hope invested in the extracurriculum can manifest in positive youth development across diverse community types.
About Andrew Guest

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