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Research: Why have a CCR?

There have been numerous empirical and conceptual research studies that supports the benefits of student engagement in co-curricular activities. Below is some information that captures some of the theories, studies, and research that demonstrates the correlation between involvement and student success, satisfaction, and retention.


Alexander Astin

Theory of Involvement: "Student involvement refers to the quantity and quality of the physical and psychological energy that students invest in the college experience. Such involvement takes many forms, such as absorption in academic work, participation in extracurricular activities, and interaction with faculty and other institutional personnel. According to the theory, the greater the student's involvement in college, the greater will be the amount of student learning and personal development" (Astin, 1999, p. 528-529).

Input-Environment-Outcome Model (I-E-O): This model evaluates the relationship between student inputs, institutional environment, and student outcomes (Astin, 1993a). This model suggests postsecondary institutions can impact a student's growth and development, and contribute to their outcomes. By placing emphasis on co-curricular engagement through a Co-Curricular Record, the university can influence outcomes by encouraging a more holistic understanding of involvement and success.

Vincent Tinto

Retention Theory: Tinto argues that the more integrated the student is with the "fabric of the institution," the more likely they are to persist through to degree completion. Without this integration, students feel at odds with the institution (Tinto, 1987). Engagement within the university increases student interaction with staff, faculty, and peers, enhancing a greater sense of belonging and inclusion, and raises awareness of the different supports and services available to students. Involvement within the institution can thus contribute to student satisfaction and retention.

Arthur W. Chickering

Theory of Identity: Students go through a series of seven stages of development, including developing competence, managing emotions, and moving through autonomy towards independence (Chickering, 1969). This theory suggests that involvement in institutional opportunities can help students realize their identity, and contribute to their growth and development.

Benefits of Co-Curricular Engagement

  • Involvement in student clubs and organizations significantly and positively influenced students' leadership and public-speaking skills (Astin, 1993b).
  • Interaction among peers with diverse religious, political, ethnic, philosophical backgrounds, had a positive impact on self-reported gains in career preparation. (Whitt, Edison, Pascarella, Nora, and Terenzini, 1999)
  • Students who were involved demonstrated greater leadership skills, are more thoughtful in their ethical decisions, and were better able to articulate the benefits from their involvement (Burt, et al., 2011). 
  • Students who were engaged in postsecondary co-curricular activities had a higher GPA, were more satisfied with their college experience, more self-confident, better able to manage emotions, and more emotionally independent from their parents than students who were not involved (Elliott, 2009).
  • There is a positive correlation between student participation in co-curricular activities and student development (Ewing, Bruce, & Ricketts, 2009).
  • Student-student interaction that played a significant influence on leadership development, and that involved students were better able to develop a purpose, lifestyle planning, and life management (Haber & Komives, 2009).
  • In making hiring decisions, employers and corporate recruiters were found to place considerable weight on student co-curricular engagement during postsecondary education, particularly leardership positions (Albrecht, Carpenter, and Sivo, 1994; Rearson, Lenz, and Folsom, 1998).
  • In the National Association of Colleges and Employers' (NACE) Job Outlook 2009 study, employers rated the influence of attributes when deciding between two equally qualified candidates. Ranked in order, employers noted that the following attributes very much influenced their decisions: major, has held a leadership position, high GPA (3.0 or above), and has been involved in extracurricular activities (clubs, sports, student government, etc.) (Causer, 2009).
  • "[Employers] looking at what you have gotten out of the college experience and that's where you really have a chance to step out from the crowd" (Causer, 2009).



Albrecht, D., Carpenter, D., Sivo, S. (1994). The effect of college activities and grades on job placement potential. NASPA Journal, 31, 290-296.
Astin, A. (1993a). What matters in college? Four critical years revisited. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass.
Astin, A. (1993b). Diversity and multiculturalism on the campus. How are students affected? Change, 25, 44-49.
Astin, A. (1999). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Development, 40(5), 518-529.
Burt, B.A., Carpenter, D.D., Finelli, C.J., Harding, T.S., Sutkus, J., Holsapple, M., Bielby, R.M., Ra, E. (2011). Outcomes of engaging engineering undergraduates
     in co-curricular experiences. American Society for Engineering Education.

Chickering, A. (1969). Education and identity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Causer, C. (2009). G.P.EH? Grading the attributes that set candidates apart. IEEE Potentials, May/June 2009, 17-18, 43.
Elliot, J.R. (2009). The Relationship of Involvement in Co-Curricular Programs on Community College Student Success and Development. Open Access Theses
     and Dissertations from the College of Education and Human Sciences. Paper 44.

Ewing, J.C., Bruce, J.A., & Ricketts, K.G. (2009). Effective Leadership Development for Undergraduates: How Important is Active Participation in College
     Organizations? Journal of Leadership Education, 7(3), 118-132

Haber, P. & Komives, S.R. (2009) Predicting the Individual Values of the Social Change Model of Leadership Development: The Role of College Students'  
     Leadership and Involvement Experiences. Journal of Leadership Education, 7(3), 133-166.

Reardon, R., Lenz, J., & Folsom, B. (1998). Employer ratings of student participation in non-classroom-based activities: Findings from a campus survey. Journal of
    Career Planning and Employment, 58,

Tinto, V. (1987). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Whitt, E., Edison, M., Pascarella, E., Nora, A., & Terenzini, P. (1999). Interaction with peers and objective and self-reported cognitive outcomes across three years
     of college. Journal of College Student Development, 40, 61-78.