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Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 1

RSCH 8200 Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan

Lay B. Boal

Walden University

20 February 2011
Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 2

Introduction

On January 8, 2002 President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act of

2001 (NCLB), a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, into law. One

of the effects of NCLB is focusing on academic performance by students, including students with

disabilities, in content areas such as social studies and science (in addition to reading, language

arts, and mathematics) by measuring such performance with statewide standardized testing

(NCLB, 2002). The state of Texas implements the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills

(TAKS) as its statewide assessment system for measuring how well students are progressing.

Students with disabilities in Texas had participated in a "Three tiered model" of assessment

which are the TAKS (Accommodated); TAKS-Modified (TAKS-M); and TAKS-Alternate

(TAKS-Alt) (Texas Education Agency, 2010). On the content area of social studies, the students

are only required to be tested in Grades 8, 10, and 11 (exit level) and it is not listed under a

separate reporting category. In 2011, a new assessment program, State of Texas Assessments of

Academic Readiness (STAAR) will be implemented where a new social studies curriculum will

be adopted which will include areas of understanding and analyzing economic impact on

international events, multinational corporations, government policies, and individuals on the 21st

century economy besides knowledge of U.S. history (Texas Education Agency, 2010).

In view of the future changes to the social studies curriculum, it appears that there is a

higher standard being implemented in terms of the students learning process where it is not just

knowing the subject matter content but applying a higher level of learning such as analyzing and

evaluating a particular issue that is learnt. Therefore for low achieving students who suffer from

this harsher effects of the NCLB could lose their motivation in passing their standardized
Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 3

assessments and educators have to make an concerted effort to motivate students on the benefit

of learning (Francis, Goheer, Haver-Dieter, Kaplan, Kerstetter, Kirk, Liu, Thomas, & Yeh, 2004)

Background of the study

Extracurricular activities beyond school have been implemented through organizations

and communities, such as schools, churches, athletes’ clubs, Boys & Girls clubs, Boy Scouts and

Girl Scouts. James-Burdumy, Dynarski & Deke (2005) stated that after school programs have

grown rapidly in recent years because both parents are in the work force, the pressure of increase

academic achievement, and concerns on the effect of unsupervised students after school hours.

The federal government has played an increasing role in the development of after school

programs as early as 1994 where Congress authorized the creation of the 21st Century

Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC Program), an organization that awards grants to after

school based programs that focuses on education, health, cultural and recreational needs of rural

and inner city public schools (Francis et al., 2004). NCLB provides for “supplemental

educational services”, and defined the program’s first purpose as being to “provide

opportunities for academic enrichment, including providing tutorial services to help students,

particularly students who attend low-performing schools, to meet state and local student

academic achievement standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and mathematics”

(NCLB, 2002, P.L. 107-110, Title IV, Part B, sec. 4201).

Gaps and/or deficiencies in prior research

Studies of after school programs have reported on an array of positive academic

outcomes. Bergin, Hudson, Chryst & Resetar (1992) found positive associations between
Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 4

after school participation and higher achievement scores. Afterschool participation is also

associated with higher classroom grades, higher math and reading scores, increased day school

attendance, lower dropout rates, higher homework completion rates, and higher graduation rates

(Goerge, Cusick, Wasserman & Gladden, 2007; Little & Harris, 2003; Sheley, 1984). While at

the same time, others have reported mixed, insignificant or negative outcomes regarding

academic performances, school retention, feelings of safety, and behavior to name a few

(Cooper, Charlton, Valentine & Muhlenbruck, 2000; Dynarski, et al., 2003; James, 1997;

Vanderhaar & Muñoz, 2006).

Importance of present study

The study on the relationship between participation in after school programs and

academic achievement in 8th grade Social Studies is important to show that after school programs

are integral to students’ academic achievement not only in math, reading and science.

This study would be important to provide parents, educators, administrators, and policy

makers on the possible advantages and disadvantages of after school programs in relation to

academic achievement.

Problem statement

The problem addresses the mixed outcome of previous research studies on afterschool

programs as a potential powerful resource that can help increase student’ academic achievement,

and there is lack of research showing a relationship between students’ academic achievement in

8th grade social science and participation in after school program.


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Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study is, by conducting a quantitative quasi-experimental design, the

study will examine whether participation in after school programs increase 8th grade students’

academic achievement, particularly in social studies.

The study will be examined based on two theoretical frameworks. The first theoretical

framework is that of Voelkl (1997) where failure to identify with school has been suggested as

one explanation for why some students persistently fail to meet academic expectations.

Identification with school has been conceptualized as involving a sense of belonging and a

valuing of school and school related outcomes (Voelkl, 1997). Students who failed to identify

with school often experience a host of problems ranging from behavioral problems, social and

emotional withdrawal, and academic failure. The second theory framework that applied is the

social capital model (Portes, 1998) which is defined as the ability to secure benefits through

membership in networks and other social structures.

The study will focus on the following objectives:

1. To determine the relationship between participation in after school programs and 8th

grade students’ academic achievement in social studies; and

2. To determine the effect of participation in after school programs with 8th grade

students’ academic achievement in social studies.

The variable that will be measured in this study will be academic achievement which is

the dependent variable, by recording benchmark scores of 8th grade social studies which will be

collected every six weeks. The independent variable is whether the student participated in after

school program.
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Research questions and hypotheses

The research questions presented in this study are as follows: Is there a relationship

between participation in after school programs and 8th grade students’ academic achievement in

social studies? If there is a relationship, does participation in after school programs increases 8th

grade students’ academic achievement in social studies?

The null hypothesis for the first research question is that there is no relationship between

participation in after school programs and 8th grade students’ academic achievement in social

studies. The alternative hypothesis for the first research question is that there is a relationship

between participation in after school programs and 8th grade students’ academic achievement in

social studies.

The null hypothesis for the second research question is that participation in after school

programs has no effect on the increase or decrease in 8th grade students’ academic achievement in

social studies. The alternative hypothesis for the second research question is that participation in

after school programs caused the increase or decrease in 8th grade students’ academic

achievement in social studies.

Nature of the study

Studies on after school programs have been reported to be inconclusive by James-

Burdumy, Dynarski & Deke (2005) where these studies have reported positive, negative and

neutral findings on impact on participation in after school programs on academic achievement.

James-Burdumy, Dynarski & Deke (2005) also reported that most studies were conducted of

after-school programs have used non-experimental designs with varying degrees of validity,

adding to the difficulty of synthesizing the literature’s findings. On the other hand, Huang et al.
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(2008) stated that frequent critique of afterschool studies is selection bias because afterschool

program participation is voluntary; students self-select themselves into participation and non-

participation groups. Huang et al. (2008) further explained that in comparing participating

students to nonparticipating students in the same school, there are inherent biases that researchers

need to balance or control in order for the findings to be valid. The use of experimental designs,

including randomization and control groups would be ideal but in reality, it is often difficult, and

potentially unethical, for most afterschool programs to randomize their participants unless the

programs are grossly oversubscribed (Huang et al., 2008).

Based on the arguments above, the quasi-experimental design will be the appropriate

design for this study. Frank-Nachmias & Nachmias (2008) stated that the rigid structure of an

experimental design often cannot be adapted to social science research and social scientists

generally use the quasi-experimental design in social science research even though the quasi-

experimental design is weaker in drawing causal inferences. Huang et al. (2008) argued that by

implementing random assignment on studies on participation of after school programs would

mean refusing to accept some students into the program so that they could serve as samples in

the control group, and students who are refused enrollment may end up unsupervised and

without the homework help they desperately need. Social scientists use the quasi-experimental

designs due to a problem in social science research cases when researchers cannot randomly

assign individuals or other units of analysis to comparison groups (Frank-Nachmias and

Nachmias, 2008).

The lack of randomization to assign students to control groups may cause vulnerability to

causal inferences of the independent variables (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2008). By

using a quasi-experimental design, researchers can reduce the risk of being wrong when making
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causal inferences based on contrasted-group designs by obtaining supplementary evidence over

time regarding the differences they have predicted in their hypothesis (Frank-Nachmias &

Nachmias, 2008). In this study, by making use of a statistical control, consistent with Huang et

al. (2008), a propensity score is used to reduce self-selection bias by removing pre-existing

category differences. Propensity scores are estimated in order to account for potential

differences in student background characteristics (like gender) and by reducing initial differences

across different groups, one can more confidently attribute differences in achievement outcomes

to treatment intensity (Huang et al., 2008). Huang et al (2008) explained that propensity scores

were estimated to account for potential differences in student background characteristics, and

these scores are computed from a large reservoir of potential controls by applying a systematic

weighting procedure. In other words, the propensity score is the conditional probability of being

assigned to the treatment condition given a set of observed covariates and it is commonly

estimated using a logistic link function (Huang et al, 2008).

Research is also conducted over a period of time and time poses a dilemma for social

scientists , namely humans and social environment are not static entities; they change in response

to internal processes and external events and they are not willfully controlled by the researcher

(Frank-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2008). Thus, social scientists may have to modify variables over

time and quasi-experimental designs which incorporate panels and time-series designs are

flexible enough to accommodate such variation if needed (Frank-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2008).

Population

The focus population in the study would be all 8th grade students in an identified junior

high school in the Copperas Cove Independent School District. This study’s population is a
Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 9

finite population, which contains a countable number of 8th grade students (Frank-Nachmias &

Nachmias, 2008). The population size in this study is approximately 350 8th grade students. We

are targeting 8th graders because the benchmark tests for social studies are implemented every 6-

week grading period to all students, and they are mature enough to think about the effects of

having a low grade and the consequences of not able to pass the TAKS tests, which may be a risk

of being held back a grade or advancing to high school, and having the cognitive ability to

participate in after school programs, subject to parental consent.

Sampling

This study refers to the population of 8th graders in a junior high school in Copperas

Cove, Texas. 8th grade students who participated and had not participated in after school

programs are subsets of the population and they are called samples (Frankfort-Nachmias &

Nachmias, 2008). Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias (2008) asserted that it is an essential

requirement that researchers must ensure that they attempt to secure a representative sample,

where the sample analysis would produce a similar results to those that would be obtained had

the entire population been analyzed. Landreneau (2011) explained that errors are possible in

where there likely to result in biased samples and there is no guarantee of a representative

sample. In order to minimize or control errors, researchers could use a probability sample design

that would make it possible to estimate the degree the findings of one sample is likely to differ

from those obtained by studying the entire population (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2008).

Four common probability sample designs are simple random sampling, systematic sampling,

stratified sampling, and cluster sampling (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2008). Upon

analyzing the characteristics of the probability sample designs, the cluster sample design can be

applied to draw out the sample of 8th graders who participated in after school programs as the
Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 10

sampling population can be defined precisely and the list of sampling population can be obtained

by the researcher. Stage 1 of the cluster sample design would produce a simple random or

systematic sample of eighth-grade students who participated in after school programs. Stage 2 of

the cluster sample design would draw the sample of 8th grade students who did not participate in

after school programs.

An alternative sample design that could be used is a nonprobability sampling called

purposive sampling where the researcher uses his subjective judgment and attempt to select

sampling units that appear to be representative of the population (Frankfort-Nachmias &

Nachmias, 2008). This means that the researcher specifies the characteristics of the population

interest and then locates individuals who match those characteristics, such as a sample of only 50

8th graders who participated in after school programs. Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias (2008)

explained that a nonprobability sample does not fully represent the sampling population and

affects the generalization. Nevertheless it is used by social scientists under certain circumstances

like exploratory research, convenience and economy outweigh the advantages of using

probability sampling (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2008).

Sample size

The sample size in a research study has to be appropriate to validate the results of the

research. Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias (2008) explained that to determine the size of a

sample properly, researchers need to determine what level of accuracy is expected of their

estimates which is the size of the standard error acceptable to them. In determining the sample

size, Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias (2008) introduced the concept of standard error which is a

statistical measure that indicates how closely the sample results reflect the true values of a
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parameter and construct a confidence interval where the wider the interval, the smaller the risk

the researcher is willing to take on being wrong. The sample size in the research of this

application can be determined by determining the statistical power, alpha and effect size, as

explained by Burkholder (2011). As the research in this application is to examine the correlation

between academic motivation and academic achievement, I would apply the following in the

calculation of sample size, where alpha is 0.5; power is 0.80; and estimated size effect would be

about 0.75. I would use the correlation table and locate the sample size with the correlation at a

power of 0.75 and I would find the sample size of 10. As the estimated size of the population in

this study is 350 students, I would select a maximum sample size of 30 whereas 15 would give

me a minimum sample size.

Instrumentation and materials

The concept of validity for measurement relates to the validity of the measuring

instrument. Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias (2008) explained that content validity means that

the measurement instrument covers all the attributes of the concepts that are being measured;

empirical validity is concerned with the relationship between a measuring instrument and the

measured outcome; and construct validity is relating to the measurement instrument to a general

theoretical framework.

There will be a measuring instruments used in the study which are the social studies

benchmark tests that are being administered to all 8th grade students in the junior high school. In

order to ensure content validity of the test, each test will be administered every six weeks and

there will be a set curriculum that will be covered during the six weeks prior to administering the

test. The curriculum will also include guided instructions which are used during the before-
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school program and it will be designed to ensure that the content would be covered by the test

administered at the end of that 6 weeks. All tests will be multiple choices and will only have 40

questions. There will be a minimum of 2 questions per subject are covered in the curriculum.

This will ensure empirical validity of the scoring of the test as the student cannot be awarded a

discretionary grade such as bonus points. Construct validity would apply with reference to the

tests as the tests are designed to measure academic achievement based on the test scores. The

tests would have reliability as it can be applied to any studies conducted by other researchers if

the hypothesis is the same. The curriculum and tests can be applied to a different research group

provided that it is administered to students in the State of Texas and the same grade level which

would limit the construct validity of the instrument.

Records of attendance would be collected from the after school program administration

and attendance for this study will be coded as “present” and “absent”.

Data analysis plan

SPSS (2010) will be utilized to conduct data analysis in this study.

Descriptive statistical analysis

The first data analysis would be a descriptive statistical analysis. Descriptive statistics

enable a researcher to explain to his readers the results of his research and the reader would be

able to understand and make sense of the results presented. Statistical results can be explained

by measures of central tendency and dispersion. Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias (2008)

explained that statistical measures which has the typical characteristics of frequency distribution,

such as mode, median, and the mean, are referred to as measures of central tendency. Frankfort-

Nachmias & Nachmias (2008) also explained that measures of dispersion such as range, and
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standard deviation are important as they explain the distribution of the data where the extent of

dispersion about the central value is measured. In this study, participation of after school

program, indicated by “present” and “absent”, is the variable selected as the nominal scale

measurement. The variable selected as a continuous variable is the test scores on 8th grade social

studies benchmark tests. The statistical assumption that is applied to this application of

descriptive statistical analysis is the standard univariate assumption. The univariate assumption

is based on three assumptions, namely; the dependent variable is normally distributed in the

population for each level of the within-subjects factor; the population variance of difference

scores computed between any two levels of a within-subjects factor is the same value regardless

of which two levels are chosen; and the cases represent a random sample from the population,

and there is no dependency in the scores between participants (Green & Salkind, 2011).

Descriptive information that will be calculated would be the mean, modes, range, and standard

deviation for the test scores by participation in after school programs.

Pearson product moment correlation coefficient

The second data analysis that will be conducted is to determine whether a relationship

exist between participation in after school program and academic achievement by 8th grader in

social studies. The Pearson product moment correlation coefficient will be used to determine

such relationship. Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias (2008) explained that the principle of

covariation is basic to the notion of association and relation, and there are various statistical

techniques which researchers can use to assess the extent to which variables are associated.

Correlation coefficient reflects the strength and the direction of association between the variables

and the degree to which one variable can be predicted from the other (Frankfort-Nachmias &

Nachmias, 2008). The notion of prediction is inherent in the concept of covariation, and when
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variables which are analyzed are at least intervals, researchers can describe the nature and form

of the relationship in terms of a linear function rule (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2008).

Pearson's product-moment correlation coefficient (r) procedure which would compute the linear

relationship between test scores and the participation in after school program. Green & Salkind

(2011) explained that the significant test for r evaluates whether there is a linear relationship

between the two variables in the population. The statistical assumptions underlying the

significance test for the Pearson correlation are laid out by Green & Salkind (2011). The first

assumption is that the variables are bivariately normally distributed which indicates that the only

type of statistical relationship that can exist between the two variables is a linear relationship;

and the second assumption is that the cases represent a random sample from the population and

the scores on variables for one case is independent of scores on these variables for other cases

(Green & Salkind, 2011). If p is less than 0.05, the null hypothesis can be rejected and there is a

statistical significant relationship between participation in after school program and academic

achievement in 8th grade social studies.

Independent-sample t tests

The third data analysis conducted is to examine any significant difference among scores

and moderator variables. In order to determine any differences in the academic achievement in

8th grade social studies measurement by using test scores and attendance collected on

participation in after school program, the independent-sample t tests will be conducted.

Independent-samples t test is one method of statistically testing a hypothesis. Green & Salkind

(2011) explained that the independent-samples t test evaluates the difference between the means

of two independent groups, and each case must have scores on two variables, the grouping

variable and the test variable. In this study, participation in after school programs has been
Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 15

selected as the grouping variable or also known as the independent variable. The grouping

variable divides cases into two mutually exclusive groups, in this case, “present” and “absent”.

The academic achievement variable has been selected as the dependent variable which is also

known as the test variable, which describes each case on a quantitative dimension. Green &

Salkind (2011) explained that the t test evaluates whether the mean value of the test variable for

one group differs significantly from the mean value of the test variable for the second group.

The statistical assumptions that are applied to this test are the assumptions underlying the

independent-samples t test as laid out by Green & Salkind (2011). The first assumption is that

the test variable is normally distributed in each of the two populations as defined by the grouping

variable; second assumption is that the variances of the normally distributed test variable for the

populations are equal; and the third assumption is the cases represent a random sample from the

population, and the scores on the test variable are independent of each other (Green & Salkind,

2011). The result indicates that we fail to reject the null hypothesis if p is less than .05. This

would mean that there is no significant difference in academic achievement in 8th grade social

studies according to participation in after school program.

Analysis of variance (ANOVA)

The fourth analysis is the analysis of variance (ANOVA). ANOVA is a method of

statistically testing a hypothesis. Green & Salkind (2011) explained that a one-way analysis of

variance (one-way ANOVA) can be used where each case have two variables: a factor that is

divided into two or more groups or level; and the dependent variable differentiates individuals on

a quantitative dimension. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to evaluate the relationship

between academic achievement and participation of after school program. The independent
Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 16

variable, participation of after school program included two groups: present, and absent. The

dependent variable is academic achievement.

Green & Salkind (2011) explained that an overall ANOVA test is conducted to assess

whether means on a dependent variable are significantly different among groups, and it is

significant and a factor has more than two levels, follow-up tests which are known as post hoc

multiple comparisons, are conducted by comparing pairs of group means. Green & Salkind

(2011) also added that the ANOVA F test evaluates whether the group means on the dependent

variable differ significantly from each other. The statistical assumptions that are applied to this

application are the assumptions underlying the one-way ANOVA as laid out by Green & Salkind

(2011). The first assumption is that the dependent variable is normally distributed for each of the

populations as defined by the different levels of the factor; the second assumption is that the

variances of the dependent variable are the same for all populations; and the third and final

assumption is that the cases represent random samples from the populations and the scores on the

test variable are independent of each other (Green & Salkind, 2011).

The result indicates that we fail to reject the null hypothesis if p is less than .05. This

would mean that there is no significant difference in academic achievement in 8th grade social

studies according to participation in after school program. If the overall F test was significant,

follow-up test was conducted to evaluate pairwise differences among the means. By using the

post hoc procedures, the Tukey HSD test was conducted and the post hoc comparison is

analyzed.

Limitations
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The study will be limited in terms of its generalizability to the total population of students

from grade K to 12. The study was only conducted on 8th grade students and the effect on

academic achievement is limited only to social studies in the 8th grade.

In agreement with Huan st al. (2008), outcome studies of afterschool programs typically

are designed to compare participants with non-participants based on any program attendance.

Consequently, participants may attend one day in an afterschool program and still be included in

the treatment group. Furthermore, non-participants may have been enrolled in other afterschool

activities and still be included in a control group. As stated in a report by Frankel and Daley

(2007), two very important issues are ignored by most studies: First, “How did the non-

participants spend their time afterschool?” and second, “How intensive was the participants’

program attendance?” (p. 12). Expanding on Frankel and Daley’s strategy and addressing their

concerns, this study used statistical strategies to reduce selection bias, this study could be

designed as a mixed method, where supplemental information can be obtained by implementing

a qualitative study to address the two important issues above.

The administration of the tests can pose a threat to validity some students may require

modification or accommodations when taking these tests. External evaluators can be employed

to ensure quality assurance.

Ethical concerns

This study will be collecting data from 8th grade students. The data collection and

handling would be designed in accordance with the National Institutes of Health Protecting

Research Participants certification, which is required as a standard to obtain NIH funding

(Protecting Human Research Participants, 2008). These guidelines maintain the overarching

themes of Respect for Persons, Beneficence, and Justice (Protecting Human Research
Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 18

Participants, 2008) and conform to the U.S. Department of Health and Human codes (U.S.

Department of Health and Human Services, 2011).

This study measures test scores of social studies as academic achievement. This should

not be the whole construction of the meaning of academic achievement and readers and

participants of this study must not unduly discriminate when there are other forms of benefits

that relates to participation of after school programs, which are also associated with higher

classroom grades, higher math and reading scores, increased day school attendance, lower

dropout rates, higher homework completion rates, and higher graduation rates.

One important concern that needs to be considered is the non-participation of after

school program in the control group. Students who needs after school assistance may be denied

such services and be left unsupervised. The statistical control, such as removal of the sample can

be considered.

Significance of the study

The findings of this study could have far reaching significant consequences. The study

will contribute to the expanding knowledgebase of academic achievement. An additional study

is conducted on the relationship between participation in after school program and academic

achievement, which will assist in showing consistency in the direction the results have produced,

despite the Huang et al (2008) contention that previous research in after school programs is

inconclusive.

My study would fill the gap of providing data on academic achievement specifically on

8th grade students and the social studies subject. The results would provide additional data to

future research and given the opportunity to expand my study by analyzing a different variable

such as motivation to learn. My research can be used to support additional funding on improving
Running Head: Final Project: Developing a Quantitative Research Plan 19

after school programs, which may reduce juvenile crimes, parental stress, increase student

performance, academic performance, instill a sense of community involvement, form positive

social relationships with adults and peers, lessening truancy, and increase parents involvement.

The ultimate goal is to establish a feasible after school program that will benefit students

all over United States or even a model for students all over the world. Such benefits may be

identified by utilizing education as a tool to improve the quality of life for these children and

them being our future, we want to instill good practices, safety, morals and values so that the

society of the future would not fail.

References

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