Evancho J.D. (2013). After-school programming: A visual arts perspective. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved from http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/19585/
Abstract: As unsupervised, after-school time increases for America’s youth, negative and risky opportunities await them. Recent studies find that as many as 15.1 million children in the United States are left unsupervised after school. Unsupervised children are significantly at risk for truancy, poor academics and risk-taking behavior. These negative forces have been targeted by many intervention efforts over the years, primarily through after-school programs. The literature defines quality programs as those with distinct elements connected to positive outcomes such as student achievement, motivation/engagement, critical/creative thinking, social competencies, and communication. Such outcomes are also evident in arts-related literature and connected to specific exposure to the visual arts. While benefits of arts programs are well documented, less is known about visual arts programs, especially those offered outside of school. To respond to this gap in the literature, this study investigated a visual-arts after-school program for middle school students. The research questions were a) what are the demographic characteristics of student participants in a visual arts-based after-school program? and b) what possible impact does attendance in an arts-based after-school program have on its mentors? To answer these questions, data were collected on participants’ gender, age, grade, ethnicity, free/reduced lunch, Title 1 eligibility, discipline records, family status, program and school attendance. Participating high school mentors’ perceptions were measured through a survey with scaled and open-ended items. When compared with all students in the district, participants were disproportionately female. On other demographic measures no significant differences were found. Mentors (n=16) described benefits including academic skill development, social and personal identity, intrapersonal and peer relations, positive environment, stress relief, and inspiration. Implications for the development of youths’ social capital, for future research and for practice are offered.