Fraternity and sorority life is a common aspect of many college students’ experiences. And, there are significant resources put towards coordinating and overseeing these organizations on college campuses. Despite their prevalence, little research exists to demonstrate or measure the impact of involvement on student learning. This research note explores the experiences of students who participate in fraternities and sororities using a national data set from over two dozen colleges and universities in the United States, exploring measures of indirect learning to determine what aspects of the fraternity/sorority experience most closely relate to learning from that experience.
Overall Learning in Fraternity and Sorority Life
The overall learning factor in the AFA/Benchworks Fraternity/Sorority Assessment contains questions asking students how their fraternity/sorority experience contributed to key outcomes related to learning. Figure 1 in this research note details the responses of fraternity and sorority members to questions in the overall learning factor.
- Fraternity and sorority members report high overall learning as a result of their experience.
- The amount of time spent in chapter activities and community service was closely related to overall learning.
- Overall learning was also closely related to other outcomes, including intrapersonal skills, practical competencies, and healthy behaviors.
Overall, students report that their fraternity/sorority experience contributed significantly to key learning outcomes such as setting academic goals, self-discipline, and academic success. On average, about six out of ten students said their fraternity/sorority experience extremely contributed to achieving these and other learning outcomes, with less than 10% of students reporting their experience did not at all contribute to learning related to key outcomes.
The average score across these questions feeds the overall learning factor score. Figure 2 below shows the distribution of students across this factor score, with an average score of higher than 6 being labeled as “high overall learning,” between 3 and 6 labeled as “moderate overall learning,” and less than 3 as “low overall learning.” Just over half of respondents had a high overall learning factor score, 43% had a moderate score, and 4% had a low score.
To access all the data in this robust research note, just fill out the form to the right. Looking for more insights on the impact of fraternity and sororities in higher education? Check out our research note, “Who is Involved in a Fraternity/Sorority After Graduation?.”