Browsing “International Developments in Research on Extended Education” by Sang Hoon Bae, Joseph L. Mahoney, Sabine Maschke and Ludwig Stecher (eds.)

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Concepts, Models, and Research of Extended Education[1]

by Sang Hoon Bae

International Developments in Research on Extended Education. Perspectives on extracurricular activities, after-school programmes, and all-day schools by Sang Hoon Bae, Joseph L. Mahoney, Sabine Maschke and Ludwig Stecher (eds.)

 

1       Introduction: Concepts and Research of Extended Education

The goal of all science is to better understand the world in which we live. No matter what fields researchers are engaged in, one of their ultimate goals is to find general explanations to phenomena that interest them. In other words, researchers conduct scientific studies to establish and develop “theories” in their respective areas.

Theory is a set of interconnected concepts, assumptions, and propositions that serves to describe and explain regularities and predict the future as much as possible (Kerlinger, 1986). Concepts are the core component of theories. Therefore, it is not surprising that re- searchers begin to explore concepts related to their research topics before they establish hypotheses or assumptions to be investigated and tested.

Concepts are by nature abstract. They are expressed by terms, i.e., words, which generally contain certain connotations. For a better understanding of concepts, therefore, it is essential to have a good grasp of the meaning of terms particularly in the real-world setting. Nonetheless, it is true that due to abstraction and simplicity neither concepts nor terms alone are enough to describe and explain reality. In addition, the meaning given to terms is socially constructed and institutionalized. Once constructed, people tend to maintain the mode of understanding and interpreting the meaning of the terms. They are treated like social norms.

Another feature of concepts is that they manifest heritage and contain “historicity.” In other words, concepts are a product of history. Consequently, to explore the meaning of concepts, it is essential to understand the social context and historical background in which the concepts are established, used, and interpreted.

The notions discussed above hold true for research in extended education. Although “extended education” was created as an umbrella term, its features and manifestations are greatly diverse and dynamic across nations. Each nation and region has developed its own extended education in response to its unique social, political, and educational needs. Even though the concept of extended education is shared among scholars and practitioners, the terms and names used to describe it vary greatly among countries – e.g., programmes, activities, offering. To summarise, extended education in each country has its own heritage, historicity, social background, and therefore, name.

Extended education has become one of the fastest growing fields in education systems. During the past few decades, there have been an increasing number of studies in this area. However, as mentioned earlier, extended education in each country and region has evolved with its own term, historicity, and social background. A variety of programmes exist from early childhood to adult education levels. The diverse and dynamic nature of extended education is the most fascinating aspect of research in this area. However, it is also true that research in extended education may not progress further if we fail to conceptualise its meaning and scope.

The purpose of this paper is threefold. First, this study set out to investigate the terms that indicate extended education in each country and region. The cases of nine countries and regions were examined – Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, England, Sweden, The US, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. Research focus was given to the kind of connotations the terms contain, intentionally or unintentionally, and why they were chosen. Second, the extended education development models were suggested. As stated earlier, extended education in each nation has its own heritage and historicity coupled with social, political, and educational backgrounds. In this context, the models were suggested to present the reasons for which a certain type of extended education was introduced and developed as one of the legitimate educational arrangements. Theories were examined to support each model.  Third, this study attempted to explore the common features of extended education. By doing so, the study aimed to conceptualise extended education as a topic or an area of re- search.

 

2       Terms for Extended Education

To conduct research about extended education, it is necessary to understand the terms that explain and describe the concept to be studied. It is particularly true when international comparative studies are performed. This is because each nation has developed its own terms, which contain certain connotations and heritage. By examining them, we may learn what purposes and perspective are overtly and covertly incorporated and embedded in their practices and policies implemented under the name of extended education.

There are a variety of terms used to describe extended education and related phenomena across each nation and culture. Of the many that exist, this study examined three themes that help understand the institutional features of extended education.

 

2.1      Out-of-school time (OST)

“Out-of-school time (OST)” is one of the most widely used terms employed to explain the concepts of extended education. OST suggests that learning and developmental opportunities provided by extended education may take place outside the typical school day. More specifically, the scope of OST includes before school, after school, weekends, or seasonal breaks. Among them, afterschool programmes are the most prevalent in many countries such as Korea and the US (Bae & Jeon, 2013; Mahoney, 2016).

The term OST reflects independence and difference from the conventional public schooling and regular classes in terms of when, what, how, and where children and youth learn. Therefore, it is a particularly narrow understanding of OST to only emphasize the difference in time (when) and place (where) between OST and the traditional education set- ting. The term OST incorporates the concept of expanded learning in terms of the goal and content of learning (what and why) and way of teaching (how). Accordingly, it is obvious that the wide use of the term OST contributed to developing a broader concept of learning and development among education researchers. Meanwhile, the OST activity trend may be understood in relation to the liberalist tradition of education philosophy. The underlying ideas of OST may be “resisting educational standards and preserving local control of education” (Labaree, 2000). Since a great deal of research has revealed that a major reason for the achievement gap among different socio-economic status groups is the availability of opportunities to learn and develop outside the regular school time, greater policy support is given to OST activities and programs, particularly for students at risk (Mahoney, 2016).

 

2.2      Activities vs. Programs vs. Offering

Extended education in most countries employs one of these three terms. However, the con- notations of each term differ. Compared to “programmes,” the term “activities” implicitly shows the participant-oriented nature of extended education and often anticipates the “accidental learning” of children. Examples are summer camp, play, sport club, arts club, and leisure time activities. The most frequently cited theory supporting children-centered ex- tended education activities might be the positive youth development theory (Benson, Scales, Hamilton, & Sesma, 2006). Those who support this idea also tend to believe that playing and having free time outside school time, albeit with the supervision of adult professionals, are a child’s right. Meaning-making from the activities is emphasised. A case in point is the school-age childcare services provided at leisure-time centres in Sweden (Narvanen & Elvstrand, 2015; Klerfelt & Haglund, 2014).

However, when researchers, practitioners, and parents use “programmes,” the term tends to emphasise pedagogically designed and instruction-engaged practices often having clearly specified goals. In other words, in comparison to the term “activities,” the term “programmes” contains the connotation of “intentionality,” indicating that extended education pursues certain goals accomplished by collaboration between students and qualified professionals. It is also notable that “programmes” generally consist of a series of learning processes or steps, not a one-time event. The afterschool programme in Korea is a typical case. For instance, in many countries, afterschool programmes have been introduced as an educational reform initiative for responding to students’ diverse needs and changing educational environment. In most cases, they began to promote the academic achievement of students, particularly students at risk. In recent years, however, they are implemented for wider purposes such as the socio-emotional development, health, and well-being of students.

When it comes to “offering,” the oxford dictionary defines it as “a thing offered, especially as a gift or contribution.” With this definition, it may be perceived as a provider-led initiative even though it does not intend to deliver the sense of “provider-oriented intervention.” While “activities” are more likely to be student-centred service, “offering” has the connotation of a school-centred approach. Further investigations on the origin of this term may be of interest.

Finally, whether it is called activities, programmes, or offering, what is important is that they are not part of the regular curriculum, and they are offered outside the school hours. In addition, the providers include not only schools but also a variety of private vendors.

 

2.3      Extended schools and Expanded schools

Whereas the two terms, activities and programmes, pursue student-centred educational and recreational arrangements, the other two terms, “extended schools” and “expanded schools,” are related to the new trend about the wider roles of public schools. They have been introduced in England and the US respectively as one of the education reform initiatives that encourages local schools to extend and expand time, space, and responsibility in response to the increasing and diverse needs of students, families, and the community (Dyson & Jones, 2014). In this case, schools are expected to actively interact with the community. Advocates suggest that these schools would contribute to “comprehensive school reforms that restructure the school day” (Mahoney, 2014, p. 64).

Accordingly, this concept of extended education emphasises the strong partnership and mutually beneficial relationships between schools and the community. In the case of East Asian countries such as Korea and Japan, this idea has been developed in relation to the movement in education toward school-community collaboration (Bae & Kanefuji, 2018) and “the Village-based Education Community” (Kim, 2015). Place-based education (Sobel, 2005), community-based learning (Kim, 2015), and area-based learning (Kerr & Dyson, 2014) may also be included in the concept of extended schools that aim to take advantage of a community’s local educational assets to promote the learning and development of children and youth.

 

2.4      Private supplementary tutoring (Shadow education)

Undoubtedly, private supplementary tutoring, also known as shadow education, is a major part of extended education. It has been widely examined as a dominant education system because it has huge impact on individual participants as well as the entire society in terms of educational equality and excellence, as the mainstream formal education system does. Researchers (Bray, 2013; Bray & Lykins, 2012; Mori & Baker, 2010) contend that it is be- coming increasingly normative and is being institutionalised across many societies. It was explored as a major educational phenomenon in East Asia but is currently viewed as a global phenomenon. According to Bray (2013), it has three distinctive features compared to formal education in public schools. The first feature is “supplementation,” indicating that tutoring covers subjects that are already taught in schools. The second is “privateness,” which suggests that tutoring is offered by private vendors and individuals for profit-making purposes. The last is “academic subject-focused,” meaning that its main purpose is to help participants raise their test scores in academic subjects and compete for better grades and entrance to prestigious institutions. It differs from other kinds of extended education pro- grams that aim to promote the growth and development of children and youth and contribute to the shaping of educational and social values such as equality of education, family support, community development, and social cohesion.

 

[1] The original manuscript of this chapter was published in IJREE issue 2/2018.

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