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Too Much of a Good Thing? How Breadth of Extracurricular Participation Relates to School-Related Affect and Academic Outcomes During Adolescence

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Although adolescents often participate in multiple extracurricular activities, little research has examined how the breadth of activities in which an adolescent is involved relates to school-related affect and academic performance. Relying on a large, multi-ethnic sample (N = 864; 55.9% female), the current study investigated linear and non-linear relationships of 11th grade activity participation in four activity domains (academic/leadership groups, arts activities, clubs, and sports) to adolescents’ sense of belonging at school, academic engagement, and grade point average, contemporarily and in 12th grade. Results of multiple regression models revealed curvilinear relationships for sense of belonging at school in 11th and 12th grade, grade point average in 11th grade, and academic engagement in 12th grade. Adolescents who were moderately involved (i.e., in two domains) reported a greater sense of belonging at school in 11th and 12th grade, a higher grade point average in 11th grade, and greater academic engagement in 12th grade, relative to those who were more or less involved. Furthermore, adolescents’ sense of belonging at school in 11th grade mediated the relationship of domain participation in 11th grade to academic engagement in 12th grade. This study suggests that involvement in a moderate number of activity domains promotes positive school-related affect and greater academic performance. School policy implications and recommendations are discussed.

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This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Linguistic Minority Research Institute awarded to the second author.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Casey A. Knifsend.

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Knifsend, C.A., Graham, S. Too Much of a Good Thing? How Breadth of Extracurricular Participation Relates to School-Related Affect and Academic Outcomes During Adolescence. J Youth Adolescence 41, 379–389 (2012).

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