Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

First Advisor

Travis E. Dorsch

Second Advisor

H. J. Francois Dengah, II

Third Advisor

Kristine Miller

Abstract

Extant research links high sense of community in adolescence to adaptive outcomes such as enhanced motivation, self-efficacy, and coping ability (Battistich, Solomon, Watson, & Schaps, 1997; Vieno, Perkins, Smith, & Santinello, 2005; Henry & Slater, 2007), as well as reduced stress, anxiety, and depression (Chipuer, Bramston, & Pretty, 2002). In light of these findings, the present study was designed to assess the relationship between high school students’ participation in extracurricular activities and their perceptions of sense of community, enjoyment, and commitment, as well as the aspects of these organizations that help to facilitate feelings of community. Study 1 participants (N= 701) were 276 males and 425 females (Mage= 16.51) actively engaged in competitive (e.g., sports; n= 218), performance (e.g., music; n= 370), and participatory (e.g., clubs; n= 113) activities in high school. Students responded to survey items assessing perceived sense of community, as well as enjoyment and commitment. Study 2 participants (N= 20) were three males and 17 females who participated in Study 1. MANOVAs and follow-up tests revealed significantly lower perceptions of sense of community, enjoyment, and commitment among students in performance groups than competitive and participatory groups. Comments from participants in Study 2 suggest that students in performance groups may experience lower enjoyment, commitment, and sense of community due to the compulsory nature of performance activities in high school. These findings suggest that there is a tension between the needs of the individual and the group, and that psychological sense of community may act as a buffer to reduce this tension. This study proposes that the purposeful facilitation of psychological sense of community by group leaders could potentially be utilized to help improve group outcomes. For anthropologists engaging in applied work, working to facilitate psychological sense of community among the populations they work with could also have a positive impact on program outcomes. In a broader application than the study population, grassroots communities may find that purposefully facilitating psychological sense of community within their programs will help them achieve their goals. Additionally, the present study presents one potential model for the purposeful facilitation of sense of community.

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