Extracurricular Participation and Course Performance in the Middle Grades: A Study of Low-Income, Urban Youth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transition to middle/junior high school is associated with declines in students’ academic performance, especially among low-income, urban youth. Developmental psychologists posit such declines are due to a poor fit between the needs of early adolescents—industry, identity, and autonomy—and the environment of their new schools. Extracurricular participation during these years may act as a buffer for youth, providing a setting for development outside the classroom. The current study examines participation within and across activity settings among low-income, urban youth in New York City over this transition. Using the Adolescent Pathways Project data, this study explores how such participation relates to course performance. We find that a large percentage of youth are minimally or uninvolved in extracurricular activities during these years; that participation varies within youth across time; and that the association between participation and course performance varies by activity setting. Youth who participate frequently in community or athletic settings or have high participation in two or more settings are found to have higher GPAs in the year in which they participate and youth who participate frequently in the religious setting are found to have lower GPAs. High participation in more than two settings may be detrimental.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-320
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 21 2015


  • Academic performance
  • Early adolescents
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Low-income
  • School transitions
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Extracurricular Participation and Course Performance in the Middle Grades: A Study of Low-Income, Urban Youth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this