Can attendance at Extra Curricular Activities (ECAs) be improved by timetabling them in accordance with staff and student instruction?
Taking the idea of Action Research I first looked back at what had been the main aim and interest of previous research in my learning and teaching projects to see what I might expand on and what might be of use and interest to develop further. From here two areas became obvious to me –
- My own interest in running extra curricular activities
- How and why students engage or do not engage with extra curricular activities
My negotiated studies project entitled Why Bother? Exploring Extra Curricular Activities (ECAs) and Student Motivation looked at four key areas – reasons for participation, the anticipated skills to be learnt and developed, overall expectations and the effect of assessment/non assessment. From this research I found a particular area I was interested in researching further; that of participation – and the question: What leads students to choose to participate or not? With the motivation being – What is the point of running extra curricular activities if no one turns up? My negotiated studies project went some way to explore the reasons students choose whether to participate in Extra Curricular activities and one finding was the overall effect of scheduling, this includes not just when it takes place but how the activity is promoted and where it takes place. The next logical step would be to intervene in the way Extra Curricular activities are programmed and run and see how, why and if this affects levels and interest in participation.
The extra curricular activities I program are run off site and apart from making sure they don't clash with holidays and reading weeks, they are scheduled without consultation with general timetabling. This is due to a number of factors such as when the workshops can fit in with the offsite space, which is a public gallery and also the nature of the workshops is that they are available to students from across colleges, years and disciplines. These are all elements that serve to enrich the activities but clearly have an affect on overall attendance as the findings from my negotiated studies project suggested. As such the intervention proposed for this research project will be timetabling ECAs in accordance with discussions with staff and students, asking the research question:
Can attendance at ECAs be improved by timetabling them in accordance with staff and student instruction?
As well as the obvious outcome of a series of workshops being run for this project for the benefit of the participants, the intended outcomes for my learning and teaching will be to see if by making this intervention the number of participants at a series of scheduled workshops is sustained. These outcomes will then have an effect on how future Extra Curricular Activities might be scheduled and run.