The effect of extracurricular activities in the educational process: Influence on academic outcomes?

HD Hunt


Previous research on the relationship between academic outcomes and participation in extracurricular activity has produced seemingly contradictory results. These contradictions can be explained, in large part, by differences in methodology and assumptions in theoretical explanations. Using a more appropriate causal ordering and improved selection controls, this research examines how participation in eight types of extracurricular activities ( athletics, cheerleading/pep club, church, community, hobby/vocational, performance, subject matter, and the total number of activities) during the sophomore year affects self-reported grades and educational expectations two years later. The results show very few causal effects of participation, even though participation in most extracurricular activities is quite stable between the sophomore and senior years. However, the grades a sophomore receives do seem to increase participation in senior year extracurricular activities, especially in subject matter clubs. These results suggest that ( 1) participation in extracurricular activities does not improve grades or educational expectations, and ( 2) getting better grades may lead to students participating in more extracurricular activities.