A study of elementary student voice in a school-based after school program
After school programs have been around for many years and play a role in the lives of many elementary age students. Although the makeup of programs is vast and differing, so many of them impact students on a daily basis. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate how participants describe and experience their after school program. Specifically looking at one elementary after school program and what parts of the program students enjoyed along with what they believed to be less favorable. Participants of the study included elementary students within the after school program. The students were in grades pre kindergarten through fifth graders. There were 27 students interviewed within the six student focus groups. There was one adult focus group containing two staff members. In all, observations along with seven focus group interviews were conducted in order to cover the makeup of an after school program. The data were analyzed using Mitra's (2004) student voice framework. This microstructure refers to Carver's (1997) ABC's of youth development. These concepts help give a better understanding of the foundation of student voice. The three concepts are agency (decision making), belonging (relationships), and competence (what they learned). They are all important to the structure, focus, and outcomes of this study. Implications of the study included moving after school programming from traditional to student-centered. In addition, after school programs incorporating student voice per Mitra's (2004) framework of agency, belonging, and competence.