A Sense of (Non)Belonging: How School Factors Affect the Participation of Latino Students in Extracurricular Activities at a Predominately White Suburban High School

Julie M Torres, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

A student’s race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status are predictors for their engagement in extracurricular activities, with poor and non-dominant students participating at lower rates (Brown & Evans, 2002; Weininger, Lareau, & Conley, 2015). To better understand the underrepresentation of Latino students in the extracurricular activity program at a predominantly White suburban high school, this mixed-methods study examined how Latino students understood the social context of the school, and how their sense of belonging in the school community influenced their (non)participation in extracurricular clubs. The research questions guiding this study are: (1) What are the experiences of Latino students at Smith HS with extracurricular activities? (2) To what extent do Latino students participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities, and what are the school and non-school factors affecting their participation in extracurricular activities? (3) How does student participation in extracurricular activities relate to their sense of belonging in the school (or lack thereof)? The study identifies institutional factors as well as social factors that shape student involvement in school-sponsored extracurricular activities, and which also perpetuate the structures that create and reinforce social stratification. The data for this study includes: a questionnaire administered to one grade level (n=351); fourteen individual in-depth interviews and six focus group interviews of Latino students; six months of field observations of school club meetings, and school events; and an archival document review. Survey results confirmed that Latino students participated in extracurriculars at statistically significant lower rates than their peers, and interview data revealed that they reported experiencing a lower sense of belonging than their peers, which they attributed to a school climate where Latino students felt excluded and ignored. Barriers to participation were embedded in a social hierarchy that disadvantaged Latino students, in addition to the institutionalized structure of extracurricular activities itself, which emphasized academic and competitive clubs that do not meet the needs and interests of Latino students, thus, discouraging their participation.

Subject Area

Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Torres, Julie M, "A Sense of (Non)Belonging: How School Factors Affect the Participation of Latino Students in Extracurricular Activities at a Predominately White Suburban High School" (2018). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI10826306.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI10826306

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