This chapter provides a review of the literature related to after school programs. The literature review is organized into the following categories: History of After School Programs, Need for After School Programs, Effectiveness of After School Programs, Frequency and Duration, and Middle School After School Programs. This section also reviews the theoretical framework for this research.
Constructivism is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own knowledge of the world we live in (Au & Carrol, 1996). Learning is simply the process of adjusting what we already know to accommodate new experiences. Constructivism can be traced to the eighteenth century and the work of Giambattista (Bhattacharya & Han, 2001). Bhattacharya and Han maintained that humans are able to understand only what they themselves have constructed. Many philosophers and educators have worked with these ideas, but the first to develop a clear idea of what constructivism consists of were Jean Piaget and John Dewey.
Von Glaserfield (1990) acknowledged that constructivism means “knowledge is not passively received.” Piaget (1973) stated that students are not just “empty heads” that can be filled with facts from packaged curriculum that is given out my teachers. Constructivism does not depend on a standardized curriculum. Instead, it promotes using curriculum customized to the students’ prior knowledge. Also, it emphasizes real world problem solving, experiments, reasoning and communication (Au & Carrol , 1997). Constructivism gives students the power to make connections, reformulate ideas, and reach conclusions (Brewer & Daane, 2002). After school programs often focus on teaching students critical thinking skills and how to make connections between content, such as mathematics and real life.
In a constructivist approach to teaching, teachers implement strategies that require student responses and encourage students to analyze, interpret, and predict information (Brewer & Daane). The constructivist teacher sets up problems and monitors student exploration, guides student inquiry and promotes new patterns of thinking (Au & Carroll, 1997). In after school programs, teachers typically are not bound “by the bell” so therefore they can spend additional time allowing students to explore, experiment, and participate in problem-based learning.
History of After-school Programs
After-school programs began as centers to help build relationships between communities and schools. Now they play an integral part in assisting students with improving academically. John Dewey (1899) in his book entitled School and Society, concentrated improving society in American public schools. Dewey thought that many unmet needs that could be eliminated if schools were available to the community.
In 1911 the National Society for the Study of Education produced a book that discussed the significance of schools being...