Date of Award

Spring 3-10-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Brad Hanson

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Third Advisor

Dr. Linda Anderson


Few studies have been conducted to investigate the educational benefits of participation in extracurricular activities during middle school (Hughes et al., 2016; Knifsend & Graham, 2012). This mixed-methods study involved elicitation of athletic directors’ perceptions and analysis of secondary data to determine the impact of interscholastic athletics participation on school connectedness. The qualitative portion of the study involved an analysis of the perceptions of athletic directors. The quantitative portion of the study involved an analysis of grade-point average (GPA), attendance, and discipline data of middle school students who participated in intramural athletics during the 2016– 2017 school year and those who competed in interscholastic athletics between the school years of 2016–2017 through 2019–2020. The qualitative data revealed the following themes: interscholastic athletics participation positively impacts GPA, attendance, and discipline, and students participating in interscholastic athletics experience greater school connectedness. Following analysis of secondary quantitative data both overall and by gender for each year, it was concluded that while there was no significant difference in GPA, there was a significant difference in attendance and discipline; therefore, the null hypothesis was rejected. The qualitative and quantitative data directly support the theory of students being more connected to school through interscholastic athletics participation (Finn, 1989; Gowing, 2019; Marsh, 1993).


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