April 23, 2021
April 23, 2021
April 25, 2021
There are many studies supporting the importance of informal education opportunities for college students. For many engineering and computer science students, informal educational opportunities often come in the form of co-curricular activities, such as student clubs. These co-curricular activities give space for students to put their studies into context, help students build identities as engineers or computer scientists, and provide social outlets where students can find emotional support, peer accountability and immediate feedback.
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo is a primarily undergraduate polytechnic university with a strong student club culture. We wanted to understand the importance of co-curricular activities to Cal Poly undergraduates. To begin this study, we employed the PosSE survey which is a validated instrument for measuring out-of-class engagement of engineering students to help provide a profile of out-of-class activities by Cal Poly undergraduates. We compare the PosSE survey data from Cal Poly against a predominately white institution (presumably R1) located in a Mid-Atlantic university.
We find remarkable similarities between out-of-class activities between the two different student populations, despite the different missions of the two universities. Similarities include the types of out-of-class activities, reasons for participating in out-of-class activities, and barriers to participating in out-of-class activities. A highlight of some of the differences include: research activities were more highly valued at the R1 school, where design competition teams were more highly valued at Cal Poly. It also appears that Cal Poly’s strong club culture promotes a greater sense of belonging to the college than in the R1 school, whereas students at the R1 school were more likely to appreciate professional and intellectual development.
COVID-19 has provided a unique opportunity. We conducted the PosSE survey at the very early stages of the COVID pandemic. Future work includes re-issuing the PosSE survey to measure the impact that COVID has had on out-of-class activities, and future survey will hopefully measure the recuperation of out-of-class activities that were impacted by the pandemic.
Oliver, J. Y., & Hoellwarth, C., & Almeida, D., & Thompson, L. L., & Epps, M., & Bettencourt, J. (2021, April), Paper [ENGAGE: Co-curricular Profile for Engineering Students at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo] Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption", Virtual. https://peer.asee.org/38242
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