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Fifth Dimension, The

Fifth Dimension, The: An After-School Program Built on Diversity

Michael Cole
the Distributed Literacy Consortium
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Fifth Dimension, The
    Book Description:

    The significant increase in the number of working mothers over the last twenty years has led to widespread worries about the plight of “latchkey kids,” who return from school each day to empty homes. Concerned that unsupervised children might be at greater risk of delinquency, schools and communities across the nation began providing after-school activities. But many of these programs were hastily devised with little understanding of what constitutes a quality program that meets children’s developmental needs. The Fifth Dimension explores and evaluates one of the country’s most successful and innovative after-school programs, providing insightful and practical lessons about what works and doesn’t work after-school. The Fifth Dimension program was established in the 1980s as a partnership between community centers and local colleges to establish an educational after-school program. With an emphasis on diversity and computer technology, the program incorporates the latest theories about child development and gives college students the opportunity to apply their textbook understanding of child development to real learning environments. The Fifth Dimension explores the design, implementation, and evaluation of this thriving program. The authors attribute the success of the Fifth Dimension to several factors. First, the program offers a balance of intellectually enriching exercises with development enhancing games. Second, by engaging undergraduates as active participants in both learning and social activities, the program gives local community organizations a large infusion of high-quality help for their educational efforts. Third, by rewarding children for their achievements and good behavior with greater flexibility in choosing their own schedules, the Fifth Dimension acts as a powerful, enduring motivator. The Fifth Dimension program serves as a model for what an enriching after-school program can be. The product of years of innovation and careful assessment, The Fifth Dimension is a valuable resource for all who are interested in developing successful community-based learning programs.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-129-2
    Subjects: Education, Psychology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Lucy N. Friedman

    When Mike Cole and I met about five years ago in a diner in San Diego, I felt simultaneously wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket and refreshed by a blast of crisp New York autumn air. Warm and fuzzy because Mike’s conversation was infused with concern about the young people attending the Fifth Dimension–UC Links programs, and refreshing because he took such an open, critical, and intense view of the programs he had spawned. This book, which reflects more than twenty years of experience, is a treasure trove for all of us who are interested in helping the after-school...

  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Gillian McNamee

    For the past decade, a group of college professors and their students have been gathering several days a week with elementary school children at various after-school centers to take part in an unusual educational experience. They play games and puzzle over homework problems. They write to each other and to whimsical characters that live in the Internet, and they chat about what it is like at college and what they think about the latest Harry Potter movie. The official reason the college professors are engaged in these pursuits is to provide undergraduates with a rich practicum course related to their...

  6. Chapter 2 The Intellectual Foundations of the Fifth Dimension
    (pp. 15-33)
    William Blanton and Donald Bremme

    As noted in chapter 1, the disciplinary backgrounds we brought to the design of our local after-school systems varied considerably, but we all adhered to a core set of concepts that placed a premium on the idea that individual development is a part of, and depends on, participation in a culturally organized social context viewed within its larger socio-ecological context. Within this family of theories, some theorists have focused on analyzing institutionalized educational activities for children and determining which tools are most effective for deliberate instruction, while others have approached learning as a natural by-product of the collective activity of...

  7. Chapter 3 Portraits of After-School Systems in Flux
    (pp. 34-65)
    Katherine Brown, Mary E. Brenner, Richard Duran, Gillian McNamee and Scott Woodbridge

    The previous two chapters described some of the early history of efforts to develop after-school educational enrichment activities and summarized the central theoretical ideas that guided our efforts at program design, implementation, and evaluation. Our goal in this chapter is to describe the projects that generated the data we use to evaluate our successes and failures. Although these portraits, of necessity, are brief, we hope that they will provide the reader with sufficient “local” information to evaluate critically the results presented in subsequent chapters. In each case, we describe the research focus of local Fifth Dimension implementers, the distinctive features...

  8. Chapter 4 Evaluating the Model Activity Systems: General Methodological Considerations
    (pp. 66-84)
    Margaret Gallego, Luis C. Moll and Robert Rueda

    Evaluating the Fifth Dimension is a complex challenge. In light of the goals and design of our project, our evaluation efforts have addressed these questions:

    What are the effects of Fifth Dimension participation on children’s learning, and how do those effects emerge?

    What are the effects of Fifth Dimension participation on undergraduates’ learning, and how do those effects emerge?

    What factors contribute to the sustainability or demise of Fifth Dimension programs?

    These questions are, of course, interrelated. In general, Fifth Dimension projects are more likely to be sustained if they are enjoyed by participating children and undergraduates and enhance their...

  9. Chapter 5 The Quantitative Effects of Fifth Dimension Participation on Children’s Cognitive and Academic Skills
    (pp. 85-106)
    William Blanton, Richard Mayer, Gillian McNamee and Miriam Schustack

    A Fifth Dimension site in operation creates a strong impression that good things are happening and that children are learning. Children and their undergraduate partners chatter away, problems get solved, and reading and writing abound. However, more than good impressions are needed to provide convincing evidence that the program is effective and deserving of continued support. Despite consistent claims for some time now that educational technology is a powerful tool to further learning, researchers have not found corresponding evidence that exposure to computer-based learning environments is sufficient to produce positive academic consequences (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1996; Cuban...

  10. Chapter 6 The Dynamics of Change in Children’s Learning
    (pp. 107-128)
    Donald Bremme, William Blanton, Margaret Gallego, Luis C. Moll, Robert Rueda and Olga Vásquez

    The evaluation studies in chapter 5 provide ample evidence that participation in the Fifth Dimension has a positive impact on a range of children’s academic skills, but they do not provide direct evidence about the sorts of interactions that could plausibly be linked to these desirable outcomes.¹ The purpose of this chapter is to provide such evidence, based on the research of the process evaluation team.

    The process evaluation team’s work answers two questions. First, was the program implemented as designed or intended in the different sites? Second, what accounts for the success of each program, as measured by the...

  11. Chapter 7 The Effects of Fifth Dimension Participation on Undergraduates
    (pp. 129-159)
    William Blanton, Donald Bremme and Honorine Nocon

    Chapters 5 and 6 demonstrated the Fifth Dimension’s success in enhancing children’s educational achievement during the after-school hours. In this chapter, we discuss the effects of Fifth Dimension participation on a second group of learners: the undergraduate students who assist the children. Reports by the undergraduates themselves, program implementers, and other observers informally but consistently suggest that undergraduates benefit in many ways from their involvement in the Fifth Dimension. Here we focus on the impact of Fifth Dimension participation on undergraduates’ learning as part of their university coursework.

    Chapter 1 presented a general description of the university courses associated with...

  12. Chapter 8 The Diffusion of the Fifth Dimension
    (pp. 160-170)
    Honorine Nocon

    Up to this point, we have concentrated on describing the design and implementation of Fifth Dimension after-school programs that were all funded by the Mellon Foundation and participants in the research plan laid out in earlier chapters. In this chapter, we go beyond these early programs to describe events that we could not have predicted at the outset and that speak to the question of the viability of the Fifth Dimension as a form of after-school educational enrichment. As we have seen, some of the original Fifth Dimensions failed even when funding from the foundation was available, but it also...

  13. Chapter 9 Lessons Learned
    (pp. 171-202)
    Katherine Brown

    Having provided an account of our multiyear attempt to design, implement, and sustain Fifth Dimension–UC Links after-school programs and their associated courses in colleges and universities, it is time to return to our starting point to reflect on what we have accomplished, where we have failed, and the lessons others might draw from our experience.

    Our experience with the Fifth Dimension has strongly reinforced our belief that understanding issues of designing, implementing, and evaluating after-school activity programs requires constant attention not only to aspects of the activity designed for children but to the institutional arrangements that form the necessary...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 203-206)
  15. References
    (pp. 207-216)
  16. About the Authors
    (pp. 217-218)
  17. Index
    (pp. 219-232)