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Developmental Benefits of Extracurricular Involvement: Do Peer Characteristics Mediate the Link Between Activities and Youth Outcomes?

Abstract

In this article, we test: (a) the relation between school-based extracurricular participation and indicators of positive and negative development across a range of activity contexts, and (b) a mediation model linking activity participation, prosocial peers, and development. Extensive survey information was collected from a predominately White sample of middle class adolescents in 9th, 10th, and 12th grades. Extracurricular participation was related to more favorable academic, psychological, and behavioral adjustment; the pattern of findings differed by activity and outcome. In addition, we documented some support for the hypothesis that the link between extracurricular participation and positive adjustment is partly a function of associating with a prosocial peer group. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are presented.

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Correspondence to Jennifer A. Fredricks PhD.

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Assistant Professor of Human Development, Connecticut College. Received her PhD in 1999 from the University of Michigan. Major research interests include motivation, school engagement, extracurricular participation, and adolescent development.

MacKeachie Collegiate Psychology Professor, University of Michigan. Received PhD in 1974 from the UCLA. Recent work focuses on ethnicity and the transitions from middle childhood to adolescence and into adulthood.

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Fredricks, J.A., Eccles, J.S. Developmental Benefits of Extracurricular Involvement: Do Peer Characteristics Mediate the Link Between Activities and Youth Outcomes?. J Youth Adolescence 34, 507–520 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-005-8933-5

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Key Words

  • extracurriculars
  • peers
  • youth development