Academic achievement or (academic) performance is the outcome of education — the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals.
Academic achievement is commonly measured by examinations or continuous assessment but there is no general agreement on how it is best tested or which aspects are most important — procedural knowledge such as skills or declarative knowledge such as facts.
In California, the achievement of schools is measured by the Academic Performance Index.
Individual differences influencing academic performance
Individual differences in academic performance have been linked to differences in intelligence and personality. Students with higher mental ability as demonstrated by IQ tests and those who are higher in conscientiousness (linked to effort and achievement motivation) tend to achieve highly in academic settings. A recent meta-analysis suggested that mental curiosity (as measured by typical intellectual engagement) has an important influence on academic achievement in addition to intelligence and conscientiousness.
Children's semi-structured home learning environment transitions into a more structured learning environment when children start first grade. Early academic achievement enhances later academic achievement.
Parent's academic socialization is a term describing the way parents influence students' academic achievement by shaping students' skills, behaviors and attitudes towards school. Parents influence students through the environment and discourse parents have with their children. Academic socialization can be influenced by parents' socio-economic status. Highly educated parents tend to have more stimulating learning environments. Further, recent research indicates that the relationship quality with parents will influence the development of academic self-efficacy among adolescent-aged children, which will in turn affect their academic performance.
Children's first few years of life are crucial to the development of language and social skills. School preparedness in these areas help students adjust to academic expectancies.
Another very important enhancer of academic achievement is the presence of physical activity. Studies have shown that physical activity can increase neural activity in the brain. Exercise specifically increases executive brain functions such as attention span and working memory.
Extracurricular Activities and Academic Achievement
With today’s youth spending a majority of their afterschool time in organized activities, it is important to understand the influence that these activities can have on academic achievement. Schools often offer a variety of extracurricular activities for today’s students. In order to encompass all students, these activities can often range from theater rehearsal to soccer practice. These extracurricular activities have a positive relationship with academic performance (Broh, 2002; Mahoney, Larson, Ecce, & Lord, 2005).
As suggested in various research studies, participation in extracurricular activities is positively associated with an increase in attendance rates, school engagement, grades, postsecondary education, as well as a decrease in drop out rates and depression (Mahoney et al., 2005; Darling, 2005). In particular, cognitive test scores have shown that high school sports were positively associated with academic performance (Yeung, 2015). Increased academic success is especially emphasized for urban youth involved in extracurricular activities (Yeung, 2015). It is also good to know that youth involved in organized activities generally have more positive developmental outcomes (Mahoney et al., 2005). Although most data suggests a positive correlation between academic achievement and participation in organized activities it is important to keep in mind that there is some data to suggest that extracurricular participation may also have some negative consequences (Coladarci and Cobb, 1996). Athletics has been linked to increased alcohol consumption and abuse for high school students along with increased truancy (Eccles and Templeton, 2002). With all good things comes bad. This is not to say that extracurricular activities are not beneficial towards academic achievement, but to recognize that there are many outcomes and factors involved in this relationship.
While research suggests that there is a positive link between academic performance and participation in extracurricular activities, the practice behind this relationship is not always clear. Moreover, there are many unrelated factors that influence the relationship between academic achievement and participation in extracurricular activities (Mahoney et al., 2005). These variables include: civic engagement, identity development, positive social relationships and behaviors, and mental health (Mahoney et al., 2005). In other research on youth, it was reported that positive social support and development, which can be acquired through organized after school activities is beneficial for achieving academic success (Eccles & Templeton, 2002). In terms of academic performance there are a whole other group of variables to consider. Some of these variables include: demographic and familial influences, individual characteristics, and program resources and content (Mahoney et al., 2005). For example, socio-economic status has been found to plays a role in the number of students participating in extracurricular activities (Covay & Carbonaro, 2010). Furthermore, it is suggested that the peer relationships and support that develop in extracurricular activities often effect how individuals perform in school (Eccles & Templeton, 2002). With all these variables to consider it is important to create a better understanding how academic achievement can be seen in both a negative and positive light.
In conclusion, most research suggests that extracurricular activities are positively correlated to academic achievement (Mahoney et al., 2005). It has been mentioned that more research could be conducted to better understand the direct of this relationship (Eccles & Templeton, 2002). Together this information can give us a better understand the exact aspects to consider when considering the impact that participation in extracurricular activities can have on academic achievement.
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