Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Faye Belgrave


The purpose of this study was to test whether the influence of after school activities upon school commitment and academic achievement among a sample of 146 African American adolescents was mediated by affiliation with prosocial peers. The study also examined whether risky peer affiliation mediated the effects of negative school experiences upon school commitment and academic achievement. Participants were recruited from middle schools within the greater metropolitan area of a mid-sized Mid-Atlantic city and a surrounding rural community. Participants completed a questionnaire with several measures. Academic achievement was measured by a one-item self report school of grades. School commitment was measured by the Commitment to School Measure. Prosocial peers was measured by the Teacher Checklist of Social Behavior. Risky peers was measured by the Peer Problem Behavior Scale. Participation in after school activities was measured by the Neighborhood Involvement Scale. Negative school experiences was measured by an item from the School Transition Stress Scale. An abbreviated version of Silverberg’s Parental Monitoring Scale was used to measure parental monitoring, a covariate. Hierarchical linear regression was used to test for direct and mediation relationships. Participation in after school activities predicted prosocial peer affiliation and was positively correlated with academic achievement and commitment to school. Prosocial peer affiliation predicted both academic achievement and school commitment. However, there was not a direct effect of after school activities upon academic achievement or school commitment. Negative school experiences predicted risky peer affiliation and was negatively correlated with academic achievement. However, there were no direct effects of negative school experiences upon academic achievement. Secondary analyses found that high levels of parental monitoring was predictive of low levels of risky peers, but did not predict prosocial peers. Findings showed some support for peer cluster theory although mediation hypotheses were not supported. One program implication is for program developers to consider cultivation of prosocial peer affiliations as a strategy to increase a possible wide range of positive individual youth outcomes, including attitudes toward school, positive student-teacher relationships and reduced problem behaviors. Further research is needed to identify factors that help explain how participation in after school activities can increase the likelihood of positive and prosocial peer affiliations.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2010

Available for download on Friday, December 21, 2210

Included in

Psychology Commons