Academic Enrichment Activities

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Intrinsic Learning Vs. Tangential Learning

Learning in afterschool academic enrichment activities is generally connected to the activity in one of two ways:

Intrinsic: The learning takes place through engaging in the activity itself (e.g. a rocketry program teaches how to calculate trajectory and account for wind speed).

Tangential: The learning is only marginally connected to the activity (e.g. students are allowed to play baseball after they write a report on a player's stats).

Of the two, we believe that intrinsic learning is more valuable to students because it engages them in the activity and enables them to see how academics can be used. Using the definitions above, please identify whether the learning opportunities in each of the following examples are intrinsic or tangential:

Activity One: Community Garden

Students maintain a community garden. They plant, pick, and sell the vegetables. The goal of this activity is for students to learn the planning and organization skills associated with math and science.



Tangential Learning

Students decide where to plant seeds based on instructions for each plant type.

Students create a mural on the wall beside the garden depicting themselves working on it.

Students plan a schedule of when to water each plant and who will do it.

Students write reports on the history of their favorite vegetables.

Students make greeting cards using vegetable prints for decorations.

Activity Two: School Store

Students run a store that sells school supplies, clothing, and food products. The intended learning outcomes of the activity are improved math, economics, and marketing skills.



Tangential Learning

Students calculate the new price of items in a 10 percent off sale.

Students create posters to advertise their store.

Students examine profit margins and sales numbers of various products to determine whether or not to cut prices.

Activity Three: School Play

Students create and perform a school play. The participants are involved in writing the script, building the sets and props, designing the costumes, making programs, advertising the event, and acting in the play. The intended learning outcomes of the activity vary depending on the job chosen by each student, but they include improvement in writing, memorization, measurement, physics/engineering, creative design, marketing, and logistics.



Tangential Learning

Students write a play in three acts, including set direction.

Students build backdrops and props for specific scenes.

Students watch a video biography of Shakespeare and write an essay on his life.

Students create a flyer to invite their parents to the production.

Students memorize and deliver lines during the play.

Activity Four: Cooking

Elementary school students bring in and cook recipes from their family's cookbooks. The primary learning goal of this activity is measurement, though students will also be learning how to read and follow directions.



Tangential Learning

Students make a collage of various foods from magazine pictures.

Students determine how much of each ingredient to use.

Students write a make-believe recipe that combines all of their favorite foods.



Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

The Academic Enrichment Project and this website are supported through the generosity of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Learning Point Associates