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Intensity and Breadth of Participation in Organized Activities During the Adolescent Years: Multiple Associations with Youth Outcomes

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Abstract

The goal of this study was to examine initial levels and rates of change in the intensity and breadth of participation in organized activities during the adolescent years, and how these participation practices were related to youth outcomes in later adolescence. The main objectives were (a) to examine growth curves of intensity and breadth of participation from Grades 7 through 11 and their interrelations, and (b) to test the associations between these dimensions of participation and academic orientation, risky behaviors, internalizing problems, and civic development in Grade 11. A homogenous sample of 299 youth (mean age = 13.37, SD = .41; 62% girls) were surveyed annually using questionnaires and phone interviews. The main results revealed that (a) even though both intensity and breadth of participation decreased over time, intensity of participation showed steeper declines by later grades, and (b) initial levels of participation were better predictors of later outcomes than rates of change over time. Regardless of the levels of change taking place over time, results revealed that youth with high initial levels of participation (both intensity and breadth) were more committed to school and developed more positive values towards society by Grade 11 than those who participated less. This might suggest that a high level of participation during early-to-mid-adolescence is particularly important when it comes to later outcomes.

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Notes

  1. To improve model fit, correlations had to be added between the residual errors of intensity and breadth in Grades 8, 10, and 11 (standardized coefficients = .14, .16, and .20, respectively). Given that these two constructs were derived from the same measure, it is reasonable to think that their errors can be correlated (at least the component associated with measurement errors).

  2. The initial model fit for civic development was χ2(12) = 28.78, p = .00, CFI/TLI = .944/.875, RMSEA = .07, 90% CI = .04, .10, R 2 = .11. To improve model fit, we first examined different sources of misfit such as modification indices and negative residuals in the output. Since no source of misfit could be identified, we ran the unconditional model and then introduced each covariate, one at a time. The best-fitting model was that excluding family income.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by research grants to the second author from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and from the Fonds Québécois pour la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture. The authors wish to thank the teachers and the children of the Commission scolaire de Laval.

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Correspondence to Anne-Sophie Denault.

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Denault, AS., Poulin, F. Intensity and Breadth of Participation in Organized Activities During the Adolescent Years: Multiple Associations with Youth Outcomes. J Youth Adolescence 38, 1199–1213 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-009-9437-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-009-9437-5

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