Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 37, Issue 9, pp 1029–1043 | Cite as

Participation in Extracurricular Activities in the Middle School Years: Are There Developmental Benefits for African American and European American Youth?

  • Jennifer A. Fredricks
  • Jacquelynne S. Eccles
Empirical Research


In this study, we examined the associations between organized activity participation during early adolescence and adjustment in a large and economically diverse sample of African American and European American youth. The sample included 1,047 youth (51% female and 49% male and 67% African American and 33% European American). We used analysis of covariance techniques to examine links between participation in 8th grade school clubs, school sports teams, and out of school recreational activities and adjustment at 8th and 11th grade, controlling for a set of self-selection factors measured at 7th grade prior to activity involvement. Organized activity participation was associated with higher than expected grades, school value (i.e. perception of importance of school for the future), self-esteem, resiliency, and prosocial peers, and lower than expected risky behavior, though the pattern of findings differed by activity context, outcome, and time point. In a few of the models, the relation between activity participation and adjustment varied by gender, race, and socioeconomic status.


Extracurricular participation Middle school Positive youth development Sports 



This research was supported by grants from NICHD (RO1HD33437) and the W.T. Grant Foundation to Jacquelynne Eccles. Portions of this paper were presented at the American Educational Research Association annual conference in Chicago in 2007. We would like to thank the following people for their contributions to the Maryland Adolescent Growth in Context Study: Todd Bartko, Elaine Belansky, Heather Bouchey, Nick Butler, Celina Chatman, Diane Early, Kari Fraser, Leslie Gutman, Katie Jodl, Ariel Kahil, Linda Kuhn, Sarah Lord, Karen McCarthy, Oksana Malanchuk, Alice Michael, Melanie Overby, Stephen Peck, Robert Roeser, Sherri Steele, Erika Taylor, Janice Templeton, Cindy Winston, and Carol Wong.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer A. Fredricks
    • 1
  • Jacquelynne S. Eccles
    • 2
  1. 1.Connecticut CollegeNew LondonUSA
  2. 2.Gender and Achievement Research Laboratory, Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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