The purpose of this research proposal is to determine if extracurricular activities such as sports has a positive or negative affect on junior high student’s academic achievement. I will discuss past research that has been conducted and their results as well articles written on the topic. I will also discuss my research method and how it will be implemented in order to see how previous research compares to my school. This research will be conducted with students in the 6th through the 8th grade.
As a teacher and a coach I have wondered if there is any correlation between students academic success while they were part of a sports program. I know that as a former student-athlete in junior high and high school I was motivated to maintain a certain grade level in order to participate in any type of sport. I recently attended my son’s parent meeting for his freshman basketball team and learned that according to IHSA rules a student can fail two classes and still participate in their sport.
That is a topic of discussion for another time but it did spark my curiosity to see if my students at the junior high level worked harder to stay eligible during their sport season and not so hard during their off –season. It should be stated that at my school a student has to maintain a 70% to participate and this is checked on a weekly basis. It would seem that ever since sports has become part of our schools environment there has been a debate about the effects of athletic participation on academic achievement.
I believe now more than ever it has become a more relevant issue because of the budget restraints in our country’s schools. The school boards often find it easy to cut athletic programs because they do not see the value it has in the academic arena. It is important for our administrators to know these effects of athletics on academics before they would decide to cut or retain these athletic programs. This particular research proposal would focus on junior high students that are both male and female at J. W. Eater in Rantoul Illinois.
Our demographics are about evenly split between both Caucasian and African American students, the African American student being slight higher, with a smaller percent of Hispanics. It should also be noted that there are a high number, close to 80%, of these students whose families fall below the poverty line; therefore there is a high number of kids that are on the free or reduced lunch plan. In addition to the research that will be conducted at Eater Junior High there will also be some information from other articles and studies that have been done in research journals.
I feel these articles and studies will provide a clearer picture as to the positive effect of athletic participation and academic achievement. I found an article that supports the theory that athletic participation can help at-risk students and other students who have academic problems. Since we have several at-risk students because of our demographics in Rantoul this article seem to relate. In this article it states that educators believe that athletic participation reduces the chance of school dropout by approximately forty percent.
It argues that extracurricular participation decreases this chance because it gives those at-risk students a chance to create positive connections to the school system. Involvement in these activities was perceived by educators to support these at-risk students by maintaining, enhancing and strengthening the student to school connection (Holloway, J. H. 2000). Although we don’t have the dropout problem as say our high school, athletics is a connection to the next level of education and can provide motivation to stay in school.
A research article I found that involves using a questionnaire, as I intend to use with my research proposal, measures academic achievement between athletes and non-athletes on the 8th grade level (Stegman, M. & Stephens, L. 2000). Both the athletes and the non-athletes were invited to participate and each was provided with a questionnaire. Both groups also gave the researchers permission to view their academic scores. They found that the results showed the students who participated in sports had the higher academic scores versus those who chose not to participate in sports.
Although the sample size wasn’t that large the results tend to lean in favor of athletics enforcing academics. Another case I found was interesting in that it examined over 25,000 students along with their teachers and parents (Jordan, W. 1999). The research’s author, Will Jordan, shows how the results point out that African American students have a higher rate of academic achievement as a whole when they are in involved in extracurricular activities such as sports. The only draw back to this research is that it only involves African Americans, however Mr. Jordon does note that previous research did show similar results for other races that were researched.
The majority of its data is received from the National Educational Longitudinal Study, and this is used to measure the data against a system that is already in place to decide how effective extracurricular activities are to a student’s academic success. Another case that was conducted by Thomas Herbert centers on the study of 8 different student athletes that had been identified as gifted in junior high for 120 days (Herbert, T. 1995). As my own son was in the gifted program this was also an interesting study.
By observing and using questionnaires, and looking at their academic scores, the conclusion Mr. Herbert came to was that they all had a strong academic record along with positive self-esteem. Mr. Herbert’s rationale is that they gained these positive attributes through their involvement in playing competitive sports. Just like in Mr. Jordon’s research, Mr. Herbert’s research also had limitations. In this case these students were from the inner city, therefore it would not be an accurate example of society as a whole or in comparison to J. W. Eater.
These are three research cases that weigh in favor of athletics helping promote academics. However in order to be able to conduct a research proposal that is fair you have to look at both sides and there are some articles that shows some negative correlations between academics and sports. One such article was written by Mr. Glenn Cook that is based on his prior experiences working with student athletes. Mr. Cook suggests that today’s society has placed more emphasis on athletics than they do academics (Cook, G. 2003).
He feels because of this shift, students are not having the academic success they would otherwise had if athletics wasn’t involved. He feel that the students are not being pushed to achieve the most from their academics because they are being given a “pass” so to speak because of the time involved with their particular sport. A Mr. William Bainbridge writes a similar article taking the stance that athletics is hindering the academic part of school (Bainbridge, W. 2004). His point of view is that the culture is so enamored with the likes of athletes such as Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard who skip college and go straight to the NBA.
He feels this is a deterrent for the kid who wants to go to college and graduate. Although I see the points in both Mr. Cook and Mr. Bainbridge opinions, they are just that, an opinion. An actual research article that helps support their opinion was conducted by Ms. Leah Bucknavage and a Mr. Frank Worrell where their research shows a negative correlation between athletics and academics (Bucknavage, L. & Worrell, F. 2005). The research indicated that some students who participated in an intramural sport actually showed a decline in academic achievement.
It should be noted that a limitation to this research is that it is based on an intramural sport as opposed to a regular sports team that requires tryouts in order to make the team and participate which requires more time and commitment. Within the majority of research I found supporting the positive effects between athletics and academics, it could easily be argued that athletics helps promote academic achievement in students. Through my research proposal I would hope to find that my results held with the status quo.
In my research proposal I will be using student questionnaires as this seems to a popular method used by other researcher into this topic. I would also be looking at the student’s grades in all subject areas pre and post their participation in their sport, along with their ISAT scores from when the started participating as early as the 6th grade through their 8th grade career. I would want to see, at the minimum, that their grades were passing and consistent over this period of time. I plan on looking at J. W. Eater junior high on a grade-by-grade level. The esearch will be done in the form of questionnaires for each grade that the students will have to fill out themselves. The survey instrument used in this research will be designed to determine whether or not the activities that junior high students choose have an effect on their academic achievement and will be based on a four point Likert-scale, with 1 meaning “I agree;” 2 meaning “I somewhat agree;” 3 meaning “I somewhat disagree;” and 4 meaning, “I disagree;”. A personal data sheet that also request demographic data will be included along with the survey.
These demographic answers will be reported in percentages and charts. The questions in the non-demographic part of the survey will generally be about their attitudes towards school and learning in general. They will also be asked if they currently play, have played or plan on playing a sport in junior high. The questionnaire will see if there is a correlation between participating in athletics and their expectation of themselves. Because the questionnaire will have both convergent and divergent questions I will be able to get a better result as to the correlation of athletic participation and the self-expectations.
Their current grades and ISAT scores will also be recorded. The goal is to compare the scores, both pre and post, and questionnaire results with those of the non-extracurricular participant and see if the data supports the hypothesis that athletics promotes academics. As a potential future administrator this is information that I would like to have access to in my potential school in order to determine the value of sports or extracurricular activities. Although I feel there is a positive correlation between sports and academics, I have to put the educational part of school first and foremost.
If I were to see that the academic part of my students schooling is being affected by extracurricular activities then I would have to make adjustment to those activities. This could be done in cutting an activity altogether or creating other opportunities to help the student-athlete be successful. I think this project has reinforced my belief that if set up properly within the school environment, then there is a positive correlation between extracurricular activities and academics. I think its up to each administrator to do what is in the best interest for his or her school and students.
Courtney from Study Moose
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