Retrospective measurement of students’ extracurricular activities with a self- administered calendar instrument

With the expansion of all-day schooling in Germany, students’ extracurricular activities are being brought into greater focus in educational and social sciences. However, the diverse range of activities and individual biographies makes it difficult to gather data on the variety and periods of extracurricular activities in classroom-based surveys. This paper introduces a tailored calendar instrument that was applied by the Study on the Development of All-Day Schools (StEG) to retrospectively survey the activities of senior students since the fifth grade. Unlike other calendar applications, the calendar was not filled in by trained staff but self-administered by the students in a group setting. We discuss methodological issues regarding this procedure by examining the current state of research and by sharing experiences of tests of the instrument prior to the survey. By further analysing the survey data, we find no indication that the calendar task induces higher non-response as a result of overburdening the respondents. Calendar elements with an open-ended format resulted in heterogeneous reports, which were nonetheless mostly suitable for further analysis. According to our findings, the number of reported activities does not vary for students with longer intervals of retrospection. From our results, we conclude that a calendar instrument can be successfully applied in classroom-based surveys but should be implemented with a step-by-step procedure under a supervisor’s guidance