June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Educational Research and Methods
23.1085.1 - 23.1085.19
Engineering and Computer Science Students outside the Classroom: The Role of the Institution in Defining Extracurricular ActivityParticipation in extracurricular activities often has a positive impact on the academic experienceof students in middle and high school, as well as during the undergraduate years. Whileengineering majors may report lower satisfaction with the college experience than some othermajors, the source of that dissatisfaction does not appear to be reflected in involvement inextracurricular activities. In fact, undergraduate engineering majors are on par with other majorsin the amount of time spent on extracurricular activities. Extracurricular involvement can covera wide range of activities with different academic benefits (and some drawbacks), but little isknown about the nature of extracurricular involvement specifically among engineering students,how it evolves year-to-year, and how it differs according to gender, ethnicity, and institutionalculture.This paper examines the time spent in and the nature of extracurricular activities amongengineering and computer science students at five diverse higher education institutions. Theinstitutions involved in this research represent three types of Carnegie 2010 classifications (Bac-Diverse, Master’s L, and RU-VH); geographical locations in the Northwest, Northeast, Midwest,and Southeast United States; both public and private institutions; and undergraduate enrollmentsvarying from 3,500 to 29,000 students (total for all majors). This analysis is situated within alarger study at these five institutions focused on understanding connections among belonging,community, and engagement within STEM populations. The role of extracurricular activities inthe underlying theoretical framework guiding this research is shown in Figure 1.Survey data were collected from a total of nearly 700 students across the five institutions throughLikert-scale and short-answer questions. The total amount of time that engineering andcomputer science students spend on extracurricular activities each week, as well as the level ofactivity in popular extracurricular activities (including sports, on-line communities, shared livinggroups, and several other non-academic communities) were captured and analyzed. Correlationanalysis, t-tests, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and other standard statistical analysistechniques were used to understand variations in institutional culture and characteristics, as wellas student characteristics as they relate to extracurricular participation and involvement.Our findings indicate that within an institution, the extent of involvement in extracurricularactivities is remarkably consistent among different types of students. Significant differenceswere found only within personality type (introvert or extravert) and one ethnic group (Asianstudents, whether Asian-American or Asian-International). However, variation in extracurricularinvolvement varies broadly across institutions. While the two larger institutions demonstrateextracurricular involvement on par with national averages (as measured by the National Surveyon Student Engagement), the three smaller institutions demonstrate wide variations from thisaverage. Although this research is cross-sectional and not longitudinal in nature, we concludefrom our results that institutional culture, rather than student characteristics, has the strongestinfluence on what undergraduate students do and how often they do it in regard to extracurricularcommunities.Figure 1: Theoretical Framework for this Study(This study focuses on non-major activities, termed Extracurricular in the concept map below).
Wilson, D., & Allendoerfer, C., & Kim, M. J., & Burpee, E., & Bates, R. A., & Smith, T. F., & Plett, M., & Veilleux, N. M. (2013, June), STEM Students outside the Classroom: The Role of the Institution in Defining Extracurricular Activity Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22470
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