A comparative study of student athletes' academic performance, attendance, and behavior in-season versus out-of-season
v Table of Contents Acknowledgments iv List of Tables vii CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction to the Problem 1 Background of the Study 5 Statement of the Problem 9 Purpose of the Study 9 Rationale 10 Hypotheses 10 Significance of the Study 13 Definition of Terms 14 Assumptions 16 Limitations 16 Nature of the Study 18 Organization of the Remainder of the Study 18 CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 20 Introduction 20 Extracurricular Activities and Benefits 23 Interscholastic Sports Participation 30 The Student Athlete 37 Academics and Interscholastic Sports Programs 39 Logistics and Interscholastic Sports Programs 44
vi Benefits of Interscholastic Sports Programs 48 Negatives of Interscholastic Sports Programs 51 Attendance, Behavior, and Dropout Rates 54 In-Season Versus Out-of-Season 57 Summary 59 CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY 60 Introduction 60 Statement of the Problem 61 Hypotheses 62 Research Methodology 64 Research Design 65 Population and Sampling Procedures 66 Instrumentation 67 Validity 68 Reliability 70 Data Collection Procedures 71 Data Analysis Procedures 71 Ethical Considerations 72 Expected Findings 73 Summary 73 CHAPTER 4. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS 74 Introduction 74 Data Collection 76
vii Descriptive Data 77 Data Analysis 79 Results 80 Summary 90 CHAPTER 5. RESULTS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 92 Introduction 92 Summary of the Study 93 Summary of Findings and Conclusions 96 Recommendations 103 Implications 106 REFERENCES 108
List of Tables Table 1. Life Lessons from the Playing Field 26
Table 2. Age of the Participants 77
Table 3. Gender of the Participants 78
Table 4. Ethnicity of the Participants 78
Table 5. Athletic Event of the Participants 79
Table 6. Grade Point Averages In-Season Versus Out-of-Season 81
Table 7. Attendance Rates In-Season Versus Out-of-Season 82
Table 8. Disciplinary Referrals In-Season Versus Out-of-Season 83
Table 9. Difference in Grade Point Averages, Attendance Rates, and Disciplinary Referrals In-Season Versus Out-of-Season based on Ethnicity 84
Table 10. Difference in Grade Point Averages, Attendance Rates, and Disciplinary Referrals In-Season Versus Out-of-Season based on Gender 86
Table 11. Difference in Grade Point Averages, Attendance Rates, and Disciplinary Referrals In-Season Versus Out-of-Season based on Age 88
Table 12. Difference in Grade Point Averages, Attendance Rates, and Disciplinary Referrals In-Season Versus Out-of-Season based on Sport 89
Table 13. Difference in Grade Point Averages, Attendance Rates, and Disciplinary Referrals In-Season Versus Out-of-Season based on Athletic Season 90
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
Introduction to the Problem This study was designed to research beliefs, concerns, and activities correlated with behaviors and outcomes of students who participate in interscholastic sports programs. This research study was designed to reveal, through the research and analysis of the data, a better understanding of the possible relationships between extracurricular activities and interscholastic sports programs and athletes’ academic achievement levels, attendance rates, and number of disciplinary referrals. This study attempted to show specifically if student athletes achieved at higher academic levels, attended school more, and behaved better when they were actively involved in their sport (in-season) than when they were not (out-of-season). This study described the history of extracurricular activities, interscholastic sports programs, rules and regulations regarding athletics, academic achievement, attendance and dropout rates, and number of disciplinary referrals of student athletes. Additionally, this study revealed information about research studies that show positive and negative outcomes of student athletes and their involvement in the extracurricular activity, interscholastic sports programs. American schools are places where multiple activities take place. Schools are very busy places, doing more than providing basic education for students. Meier et al. (2004) state education for K-12 programs offers a source of civic pride, is a major vehicle of socialization, and houses unlimited extracurricular activities. Students across the United
2 States participate in a variety of extracurricular activities (Holloway, 1999). The extracurricular activities are voluntary and usually take place outside of the normal hours of the school day. Additionally, students do not receive grades or credits toward graduation from participation in the extracurricular activities. However there is a reward that some students receive in the form of winning games or competitions while participating in those activities. Educational success comes through many or various avenues and may be achieved through as many diverse methods as it comes. One avenue through which educational success may be achieved is via extracurricular activities. Meier et al. (2004) claim extracurricular activities have been in education for a long period of time and that their existence is justified. An extracurricular activity is any involvement in which a student participates that is outside the normal academic curriculum of a school. According to Barnett (2007), extracurricular activities may come in various forms, some of which are in the form of academics, sports, student government, yearbook, or clubs. Extracurricular activities within a school system or school are perceived to positively affect the student’s life in different forms and levels. Extracurricular activities may affect academics, behavior, growth and development, socialization, and character just to name a few. Research studies show various outcomes come through participation in extracurricular activities. Many research studies show extracurricular activities reduce delinquency, mitigates dropouts, and positively affect student academic achievement (Durbin, 1986; Simon, 1991; Seefeldt, 1993; Landers & Landers, 1978; Templin, 1996). The initial investigation between the relationship among extracurricular activities and educational achievement began during the 1960s. This connection between student
3 participation in extracurricular activities and student educational attainment has been a hot topic of discussion since Coleman (1961) conceptualized the idea that participation in extracurricular activities was not only detrimental to academic performance but also to academic achievement. Coleman believed that students who place their energies into athletics are less likely to pursue and achieve academic objectives. Coleman’s thought has been debated and the topic continues to be a source of research and controversy in educational environments. Research shows a positive relationship between participation in extracurricular activities and academic achievement. Hanks and Eckland (1976) state the relationship between extracurricular activities and educational attainment has generally been positive. Opponents may argue that the participation in extracurricular activities may be considered an interference with school success (Schneider & Klotz, 2000; Hanson & Austin, 2003; Burnette, 2000). School success includes not only good grades, but also the positive behaviors of students while in school. These behaviors may include, but are not limited to grades, discipline, attendance and tardiness, and students remaining connected to and in school through graduation. Hanks and Eckland describe two important functions participation in extracurricular programs serve. These two functions include 1. Extracurricular activities generate and reinforce educational success goals by exposing students to a network of social relations, consisting in part of school personnel and achievement-oriented peers, with the immediate benefit of binding these students to the school and to its normative structure; and
2. Extracurricular activities facilitate the achievement of such goals by students acquiring the kind of knowledge, interpersonal skills, self-confidence, and other attitudes that not only engender compliance but equip them with the personal resources needed in the longer run to translate goals into effective action. (Hanks & Eckland, 1976, p. 271)
4 It is clear that the American educational system exemplifies an organization with various and divergent goals. The goals are diverse due to the nature of what benefits or downfalls may come through participation in extracurricular activities. As mentioned before, various benefits may come through participation in extracurricular activities. Gillis and Howard (2006) state the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA) supports the commitment of providing stronger leadership for high school extracurricular activities, namely interscholastic athletic programs, which appear to dominate extracurricular activities in schools. According to Holloway (1999), interscholastic athletics is one program that has been a component of the American public school system since the late nineteenth Century. The National Federation of State High School Association reveals that interscholastic athletic programs are significant components to the field of education. Since athletics appear to be significant components to the field of education, there may be a need for promoting positive educational outcomes. Silliker and Quirk (1997) discuss one model that promotes school success for those who participate in extracurricular activities which occur through school counseling. Silliker and Quirk describe this as a development and promotional model that fosters student competency in “broad areas of lifelong learning, personal effectiveness, and life roles” (para. 1). Proponents of organized sports foster the notion that athletics promote and develop specific, desired qualities in athletics through participation. On the other hand, critics and opponents of sports participation in athletics argue that the involvement distracts participants from scholarly pursuits and has an adverse effect on participant’s academic performance (Schneider & Klotz, 2000; Hanson & Austin, 2003; Burnette, 2000).
5 The subject of sports participation and academic achievement has been studied through many years and can be found in many research papers. Although research studies have been conducted, there is the belief that studies still provide differing results regarding conclusive evidence as to whether sports participation positively contributes to the academic achievement of its participants. In addition to academic achievement, sports participation also receives accolades towards improving the behavior of its participants. According to Barnett (2007), research shows that students who are participants in extracurricular activities have a positive attitude towards school. Additionally, adolescents who are more connected to school tend to have positive and healthy behaviors and a reduction in the number of high risk behaviors. It is believed that high risk behaviors such as truancy, substance abuse, and delinquency are reduced when students participate in extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, from the considerable number of studies, the debate as to whether sports participation contributes to the enhancement or demise of academic achievement has not been resolved.
Background of the Study Although the United States is one of three nations that offer more interscholastic sports programs than other extracurricular activities, there is not always enough money to fund the programs. With large increases of student participation in school athletics, there is also a need for an increase in funding. Problems with funding and budgets in education make it difficult for schools to decide which programs to fund and which programs to reduce or eliminate altogether. It appears that when funding for educational programs are decreasing, one area that receives first attention is extracurricular activities.
6 According to a survey done by the National Interscholastic Athletic Association (NIAA) in 1994, the perception of nearly a quarter of the respondents was that the athletic budget was the target for budget cuts above any other department or program. Manos (2003) agrees and states that when there is a financial hardship, often the athletic budget is where directors turn to begin cutting the budget. Coakley (2003) further suggests that sports programs represent less than one percent of a school’s budget and do not take up a large part of the resources used for other basic education programs. Football and basketball sports programs are revenue generating programs through gate receipts and donations and provide the major funding for high school athletic programs in individual schools. There is an argument as to whether athletics play a more important role than just competition. In American high schools, there are more things taking place than the education of children. Meier et al. (2004) disclose K-12 programs provide more than the basics of a student’s education; schools are a “source of civic pride, a major agent of political socialization, and the location for a nearly unlimited number of extracurricular activities” (p. 799). Extracurricular activities have been studied and justified for their inclusion in educational programs. One of the largest extracurricular activities is athletics. Interscholastic athletic programs are celebrated at just about every level of education from middle school, high school, and college. Not only are sports popular in education, but this popularity extends to professional leagues as well. The involvement students have in athletics is perceived to have a positive impact on academics. Numerous research studies (Durbin, 1986; Simon, 1991; Seefeldt, 1993; Landers & Landers, 1978; Templin, 1996) have been conducted on the impact sports participation has on academic outcomes,
7 and there is an indication that sports participation decreases delinquency, lessens dropouts, and positively affects student academic achievement. Meier et al. (2004) claim, although debates have been constant, the proponents of athletic participation have been on the up side of the argument based on the building of character and teamwork that is allegedly learned through athletics. Lipsey (2006) reveals that mental, physical, economic, and spectator benefits are derived through sports participation, and rarely is the thought given to the value of the connection. According to Eitzen and Sage (1997), during the 1994–1995 school year, there were nearly 5.8 million student athletes. Of that 5.8 million, approximately 2.2 million (38%) were female and the other 3.6 million (62%) were male. The number of athletes continues to increase because in the year 2002, there were over 6.8 million student athletes of which 2.8 million (41%) were female and 4 million (59%) were male (National Federation of State High School Associations, 2002). The 2005–2006 school year marked the seventeenth consecutive year that the number of students participating in extracurricular activities has increased. Moreover, the normal participation rate of students in high school sports is around thirty-five percent. Nationally, as Le Menestrel and Perkins (2007) disclose, approximately 40 million children and youth participate in sports programs. Research suggests that children and youth receive benefits from their participation in sports programs. However, as it relates to the impact interscholastic sports programs have on academic achievement, the research can be perplexing. Burnette (2000) discloses that sports participation was once viewed as a recreational activity but later found it to serve as a vital component of the education process. Characteristics were being instilled
8 in the participants in athletic programs. Being more responsible in social behaviors, academic success, and health and wellness appreciation are three areas in which children may gain benefits through sports participation. Contrastingly, all research does not only show positive outcomes derived from participation in sports programs; some research suggests that there are negative consequences from participating in sports programs as well. Le Menestrel and Perkins (2007) share that negative behaviors such as substance abuse and lying increased in teenagers who are involved in athletic programs. The results of participating in athletic programs show that there are some detrimental effects on the well-being of youth. Research has provided differing results as to the influence sports participation has on the participants. As the debate between proponents and opponents of the consequences of sports participation continued, between the 1950s and 1970s, a rapid increase in sports participation occurred. It has been shown through some research studies that participants seem to excel academically, do better socially, and develop characteristics that will assist them in life beyond athletics (Durbin, 1986; Simon, 1991; Seefeldt, 1993; Landers & Landers, 1978; Templin, 1996). Although, other research studies provide information quite to the contrary; participants not only do poorly in school, the type of social behaviors and characteristics are those which are detrimental to success (Schneider & Klotz, 2000; Hanson & Austin, 2003; Burnette, 2000). However, research studies should be hesitant in the generalization of the effect interscholastic sports programs have on academic achievement in relationship to secondary schools. It may be evident that participation in sports programs or athletics has some type of affect on students; the question yet remains: what effect does it have?
9 Statement of the Problem It is not known to what extent student athletes’ educational outcomes differ in- season versus out-of-season. Education outcomes for this study included academic levels, attendance, and the number of disciplinary referrals. Due to the cuts in extracurricular activity budgets and interscholastic athletic programs, some students are unable to participate in such activities. Therefore, it is important for parents and other educational stakeholders to understand the influence athletics has on educational outcomes of student athletes. Athletics requires learning skills, discipline, and the ability to cope with everyday situations. Shephard (1997) suggests that if a significant amount of time is devoted to a physical activity, the academic performance of those students involved in the physical activity will meet or even surpass students who are not engaging in that physical activity. Marsh (1993) believes contrary to that thought is the perception that the more time devoted to an extracurricular activity, the less amount of time there is to devote to other pursuits, namely academics. Shephard further states students who are involved in physical activities tend to show improved attributes such as increased brain function, higher energy and concentration levels, improved self-esteem, and better behavior which may all support cognitive learning.
Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to explore the possible effects of sports participation on student academic achievement, discipline, and attendance rates of the athletes in one small and one large metropolitan high school to determine whether student athletes performed better academically and behaviorally during their season of
10 competition than they did when they were not in competition. Grades, school attendance, and the number of disciplinary referrals in school were examined over two semesters (spring 2008 and fall 2008) to determine if there were significant differences in-season versus out-of-season.
Rationale There is a need to understand the importance of sports participation of students at the high school level, which is evident by the number of prior studies regarding athletic participation. Research studies provide information on the effect sports participation has on student educational outcomes. The participation in interscholastic athletic activities has been found to decrease the dropout rate, improve academic achievement levels, decrease student misbehaviors, and also improve attendance levels while in high school. However, the research has not been conclusive. Other studies have not shown such positive effects of sports participation in student athletes. One area in which there appears to be a contradiction is in academic achievement. Schneider and Klotz (2000) reveal that sports participation does not positively affect test scores. Hanks and Eckland (1976) also showed there is no founded relationship between sports participation and academic achievement. This research study planned to add to the current body of knowledge and sought to provide supplementary knowledge regarding the importance of athletic participation for student athletes in school. The information should provide administrators, teachers, coaches, parents, and students with quality data as to the benefits or detriments associated with participation in interscholastic athletic programs. Furthermore, this information
11 could lead to the development of additional programs that could either enhance or improve student athletes’ academic levels and behaviors and extend to participants in other extracurricular programs.
Hypotheses This research study tested several hypotheses to find specific relationships. Although statistically significant relationships between the variables of investigation may exist, the tradition of scientific research phrases the hypotheses in the null to determine if the null hypotheses can be accepted or rejected. The hypotheses and null hypotheses for this study were as follows: H 1 : There is a statistically significant difference between student athletes’ grade point averages in-season versus out-of-season. H O : There is no statistically significant difference between student athletes’ grade point averages in-season versus out-of-season. H 2 : There is a statistically significant difference between student athletes’ attendance rates in-season versus out-of-season. H O : There is no statistically significant difference between student athletes’ attendance rates in-season versus out-of-season. H 3 : There is a statistically significant difference between the number of disciplinary referrals written on student athletes’ in-season versus out-of-season. H O : There is no statistically significant difference between the number of disciplinary referrals written on student athletes’ in-season versus out-of-season.
12 H 4 : There are statistically significant differences in student athletes’ grade point averages, attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season based on the ethnicity of the athletes. H O : There are no statistically significant differences in student athletes’ grade point averages, attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season based on the ethnicity of the athletes. H 5 : There are statistically significant differences in student athletes’ grade point averages, attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season based on the gender of the athletes. H O : There are no statistically significant differences in student athletes’ grade point averages, attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season based on the gender of the athletes. H 6 : There are statistically significant differences in student athletes’ grade point averages, attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season based on the age of the athletes. H O : There are no statistically significant differences in student athletes’ grade point averages, attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season based on the age of the athletes. H 7 : There are statistically significant differences in student athletes’ grade point averages, attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season based on the sport of the athletes.
13 H O : There are no statistically significant differences in student athletes’ grade point averages, attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season based on the sport of the athletes.
Significance of the Study There have been several research studies that have investigated the affects interscholastic athletic programs have on student educational outcomes. Eitle (2005) finds the association between sports in which participation and educational outcomes may be related to the different sports students participate. Prior studies may treat sports as a monolithic entity–the benefits or costs are the same for each sport. There are few research studies that found evidence that supports one particular sport provides greater educational outcomes than another. This study specifically investigated the effects athletics have on student academics, student attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in school. This study provided information regarding the relationship with those outcomes based on individual and collective sports programs. Different studies have provided various outcomes. A similar study was done in 1978 by Laughlin on wrestlers, comparing the students’ grade point average, absences, skipping classes, and disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season. Another study was conducted by Emmons in 1994 that compared the grades of student athletes the quarter before their competitive season with the quarter during their athletic competition. Both of those studies were done 30 and 40 years ago, respectively, and the data from this study was used to obtain current data. The data collected in this study from student files determined if students had higher academic achievement levels, lower absenteeism rates,
14 and fewer number of disciplinary referrals during their season of competition as opposed to their season of inactivity of their athletic competition. This study provided critical information on student athletes and their educational attainment through the analysis of grades, attendance, and number of disciplinary referrals. Additionally, this study sought to provide the literature with an explanation for the importance of interscholastic athletic programs. This study sought to enhance the knowledge of teachers, administrators, coaches, and other stakeholders of the importance of athletic programs in schools in order to allow athletic programs to continue without being eliminated due to budget crises. Specifically, if researchers found a relationship between student academic achievement, positive behaviors, and improved attendance rates, the importance of sports programs in schools may be reconsidered. Therefore, it is beneficial to understand the importance of athletics in high schools due to the amount of money set aside to allow interscholastic sports programs the opportunity to continue and not be eliminated due to a lack of funding in the budget. Finally, prior studies placed emphasis on participants versus non-participants, whereas this study provided information on participants’ school outcomes in-season versus out-of-season from various interscholastic athletic programs.
Definition of Terms The following terms were used operationally in this study: Academic Achievement. Academic progress of a student through school based on grade point average.
15 Athlete. A person trained in games, exercises, or contests that require physical strength, skill, or stamina. Attendance. The physical presence of a student being in school for more than 4 ½ hours. Disciplinary referral. A formal reprimand of a student for violating a school rule, policy, or procedure. Extracurricular Activity. Any involvement in which a student participates that is outside of the normal academic curriculum of a school Grade Point Average (GPA). A tool used for measuring a student’s academic achievement performance; a cumulative grade point average ranging from 0.0 to 4.0; curriculum of a school which is approved by the Board of Education. In-season. The time in which a student is participating in a school sanctioned athletic sport. Interscholastic athletics. Sports activities at the high school level that are sponsored and sanctioned by Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) which offer students the opportunity to participate in competitive sports against other schools. Multi-Sport Participant. An athlete who participates in more than one sanctioned athletic sport(s). NFSHSA. National Federation of State High School Association which is a national service and administrative organization of high school athletics. Out-of-season. The time in which an athlete is not participating in a school sanctioned athletic sport.
16 Participant. A student who participates in a TSSAA sanctioned sport(s). Single Sport Participant. An athlete who participates in only one athletic sport. Team Sports. Any athletic program requiring more than one participant in order to compete. TSSAA. Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.
Assumptions The following assumptions were present in this study: 1. It was assumed that participants in this study received equal opportunities from their teachers and that grade point averages accurately reflected the participant’s academic achievement. 2. It was also assumed that all participants in this study spent an equal amount of time in their athletic program as other participants in the same athletic program.
Limitations This study presented relevant information on the effect sports participation in high school interscholastic athletic programs has on student academic achievement levels, attendance rates, and the number of disciplinary referrals in-season versus out-of-season. Additionally, it is as important to recognize some conceptual and methodological limitations that should receive future consideration. The following limitations were present in this study: 1. The findings of this study should not conclude the information found in this
17 study to be typical of all high school students. 2. For clarification, grade point averages, information on behavior and attendance of the participants’ prior years should be investigated to disclose differences over a longer period of time or the use of a longitudinal study should be considered. Methodological limitations were also part of this study. 3. One methodological limitation was the possibility of generalizability of the sample due to the schools and program from which the participants are selected. The sample was taken from and limited to the students who attended the two high schools from which the study was conducted. As of 2007, the large high school (HS1) had approximately 1,778 students. The racial make- up of that high school was 439 (24.7%) White, 1150 (64.7%) Black, 172 (9.7%) Hispanic, 10 (0.6%) Asian, and 6 (0.2%) American Indian. The school had 919 (51.7%) female students and 859 (48.3%) male students. Additionally, approximately 974 (54.8%) students at HS1 were economically disadvantaged. As of 2007, the smaller high school (HS2) had approximately 600 students. The racial make-up of that high school was 58 (9.7%) White, 530 (88.3%) Black, 9 (1.5%) Hispanic, and 3 (0.5%) Asian. The school had 303 (50.5%) female students and 297 (49.5%) male students. Additionally, approximately 468 (78%) students at HS2 were economically disadvantaged. 4. Similar research studies should use the same sample and demographics if using this study as a measure of comparison. Future studies using a different sample size may desire to choose a sample from a school that has more or less