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A Matter Of Priorities: Effects Of Increased Opportunities For Extracurricular And Non Traditional Learning Experiences On Student Time Management And Attitudes

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Engineering Education Research and Assessment III

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.51.1 - 10.51.9



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Paper Authors

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Daniel Bailey

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Andrew Ricke

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David Spurlock

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Susan Murray

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Matter of Priorities: Effects of Increased Opportunities for Extracurricular and Non-traditional Learning Experiences on Student Time Management and Attitudes David G. Spurlock, Ph.D., Daniel J. Bailey, Susan Murray, Ph.D., and Andrew S. Ricke Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Department University of Missouri-Rolla


Many schools are emphasizing non-traditional and extracurricular learning experiences for undergraduate engineering students. These include activities such as incorporating service- learning projects into the classroom, involving students in design competitions (e.g., solar car, formula car races), and promoting involvement in traditional campus organizations. Often this emphasis is in response to changes in ABET requirements, desires of future employers, and needs to improve student retention. What are the effects of emphasizing these sorts of activities on student attitudes and time management decisions? We examine the influences on students’ priorities for allocating their time and their perceptions of the relative importance of available activities, especially traditional coursework. We present data relating key personality and motivational factors to patterns of student social involvement, organizational commitment, academic performance, and work habits and attitudes. Implications for educators and potential cost-benefit trade-offs for particular student subpopulations are also presented.


Today’s engineering undergraduates, like their predecessors, are confronted with the relatively heavy demands on their time necessary to master the academic fundamentals of their disciplines. In addition, it seems that they are exposed to an ever-growing array of opportunities and expectations to engage in university-sponsored extracurricular activities. These activities are promoted as avenues to foster the development and demonstration of social, communication, and leadership skills. University administrators count among their major missions the recruitment and retention of students and may see promotion of student activities and organizations as an effective path to meeting enrollment goals. Conversely, grade inflation, initiatives to reduce credit hours required for degrees, disparities between faculty and student expectations for time spent on course work, and technological advances that reduce the need for actual class attendance all contribute to a perception among at least some students and faculty that traditional coursework may be waning in perceived importance.

Casual observations and anecdotes about how students divide their time between traditional course work and other worthwhile activities motivated us to examine more systematically what our students are doing with their time and what the costs and benefits of emphasizing extracurricular activities might be. In this paper we outline some of the issues of student time

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Bailey, D., & Ricke, A., & Spurlock, D., & Murray, S. (2005, June), A Matter Of Priorities: Effects Of Increased Opportunities For Extracurricular And Non Traditional Learning Experiences On Student Time Management And Attitudes Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14436

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