Title

The Impact of a Sport-Based Authentic Adolescent Leadership Program on School Climate

Location

Harborside Center

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

This intervention aligns with the “Heart”: Social & Emotional Skills conference strand as well as the “Health”: Mental & Physical Health strand. The intervention was designed to foster social, leadership, and life skills through participation in sport, among a high-poverty and high-minority middle school.

Brief Program Description

Can a sport-based authentic leadership program have an effect on school climate, specifically with a group of males in the 6th-8th grade in a high poverty school? Utilizing a sport-based youth development framework, life skills were taught to the youth over 12 weeks during this in-school intervention. Results from the intervention can help practitioners and teachers further engage youth-at-risk.

Summary

One of the largest predictors of academic achievement in the United States continuously remains to be socio-economic status (Stanford University Center for Education Policy Analysis, 2014). That said, the goal for educators is to find innovative practices to create optimal learning opportunities for at-risk youth that face many societal and economic disadvantages that affluent America does not have to experience.

In the Fall of 2014, an underperforming K-8 school within an urban neighborhood in Connecticut, began the process of implementing reform in partnership with a successful charter school network. During the fall of 2014 observations were conducted weekly in several classes to assess school culture and school climate among the students, teachers and school staff.

In the Spring of 2015 based upon the observations in the fall, a sport-based leadership intervention was developed in collaboration with the school administration, with the goal of engaging the middle school (grades 6-8) boys. The intervention used sport as a medium to develop leadership and life skills with the goal of improving school climate and school connectedness. A pilot of the intervention began mid-Spring 2015 and continued through the end of the school year for 12 weeks.

Twelve 6-8th grade boys were selected to be in the program through the recommendation of the teachers and administrators. Lessons were implemented twice a week, with each lesson averaging 90 minutes in duration. Lessons were intentionally planned and implemented to teach various leadership and life skills (discipline, respect, grit) through sport activities. Furthermore, journal activities were utilized to allow for reflection and application of the life skills.

Results of the pilot show promise for further research and program implementation. Participating students have reported learning life skills, and transferring the skills to other domains (i.e., classroom, home). Moreover, all students participating in the program reported enjoying the intervention, specifically the sport emphasis. Results from the pilot show that sport can be an effective tool to teach life skills and to engage youth-at-risk. Further research is required to elucidate the effect of the intervention on school climate and connectedness.

Evidence

Within the field of education and in society, practitioners and educators are constantly seeking ways to engage and positively develop youths that are at risk from high poverty populations. Through a calculated sports-based youth development program that is combined with a strong academic support and foci, promising educational outcomes can be made. Positive youth development programs across the country have been proven to produce youths that are competent, confident, caring, and whom exhibit character and positive social connections (Roth and Brooks-Gunn, 2003). Furthermore, Scales et al. (2000) have identified participation in youth programs as the key asset linked to exemplary positive development, or thriving, among contemporary American youth. Sports have historically been and continue to be one of the most influential factors in urban and high-need communities. Harris and Hunt (1984) explained this extraordinary investment by urban youth in to sports as an outcome of perceptions of inequalities in access to other arenas of opportunities. Furthermore, Duncan-Andrade (2010) firmly believes that this trend of athletic participation by marginalized youth firmly holds the possibility for academic and social empowerment. Sports can undeniably teach our youth how to work hard for what they want, be passionate, be determined, and become strong leaders when sports are taught positively.

According to Perkins and Noam (2008) sport based youth development (SBYD) programs use sports as the “hook” and as the medium to foster the development of certain life skills. Sports acting as a “hook” can be seen in a study by Fuller et al. (2013) who examined the factors that attracted minority males to a sports-based afterschool program. Fuller et al. (2013) found that youths became initially involved in the program mainly due to its sports emphasis. The authors also reported that program participation facilitated positive youth development across the five domains of competence, confidence, connections, character, and caring. Furthermore according to Dobosz and Beaty (1999) there is a strong relationship between sports participation and leadership development.

The aforementioned traits that help build strong students and citizens should not be disjointed from what it takes to be excelling athletes. The more that a sport-centered authentic leadership intervention program can transfer the traits that many students already apply and understand within the confines of sport, the more those students can begin implementing those traits and characteristics in to every aspect of their lives (school, community, sport, family). The inevitable buy-in from students enrolled in such an intervention will result in stronger desires to attend school, better understandings and applications of respect, the ability to overcome difficult situations, firm understandings of how to be positive and influential school leaders, and the confidence to be successful at anything they put their full effort toward.

Therefore it is the authors’ expectation that a sport-based intervention can develop authentic leadership traits among adolescents, resulting in an increase of positive behaviors and a more positive school climate. Through explicit coaching and intentional programming, SBYD programs can provide an avenue that concurrently engages at-risk youths while fostering positive youth development.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Michael D. Corral: Michael is a doctoral student at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Educational Leadership. He has teaching and administration experience with high-need districts and schools at both the primary and secondary public education levels.

Jesse Mala: Jesse is a doctoral student at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Educational Leadership. He is a certified Physical Education and Health teacher in the state of Connecticut.

Keyword Descriptors

Sport, youth development, life skills, academic enrichment, high-minority, high-poverty

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-8-2016 4:00 PM

End Date

3-8-2016 5:30 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Mar 8th, 4:00 PM Mar 8th, 5:30 PM

The Impact of a Sport-Based Authentic Adolescent Leadership Program on School Climate

Harborside Center

Can a sport-based authentic leadership program have an effect on school climate, specifically with a group of males in the 6th-8th grade in a high poverty school? Utilizing a sport-based youth development framework, life skills were taught to the youth over 12 weeks during this in-school intervention. Results from the intervention can help practitioners and teachers further engage youth-at-risk.