How Does Involvement in Student Organizations Relate to Learning Outcomes?
Higher education researchers have long understood the role student organization involvement plays in supporting student success. Classic higher education theorists, including Astin, Tinto, Pascarella, Terenzini, and Kuh have cited involvement, peers, social cohesion, and leadership development as positive influences in such areas as commitment, satisfaction and academic performance.
To that end, this research note explores the relationship of student organization membership to the broader student experience using a dataset of over 9,000 undergraduate student leaders from over 20 institutions.
About the Data
The data used in this research note are from the 2016-2017 ACUI/Benchworks Student Activities Assessment. The survey was jointly designed by ACUI and the survey development team at Skyfactor. This survey enables institutions to evaluate the experiences of students who participate in student organizations and activities, specifically focusing on importance of educational and social activities; satisfaction with student government and programming boards; role of student activities in contributing to key learning outcomes; and learning related to overall university experiences. In total, 9,382 undergraduate students from 22 institution responded to the assessment during the 2016-2017 academic year.
Key Questions about Student Organization Involvement:
- How many organizations are students involved in?
- Are students who participate in student organizations more likely to achieve key learning outcomes than students who do not participate in student organizations?
- Is there a relationship between the number of organizations a student is involved in and key measures of learning and satisfaction?
- Four out of five students report being currently involved in at least one student organization
- Students who are involved in at least one organization are more likely to report high level of learning related to their college experience than students who do not participate in organizations
- There is a positive relationship between measures of learning and satisfaction and the number of organizations a student is currently a member of.
Student Organization Involvement and College Learning Outcomes
Part of the analysis for this study compared students who participated in at least one student organization to those who did not participate in any student organizations, in particular on a set of broad learning outcomes of a typical college experience. In general, students who participated in at least one student organization were more likely to report high learning outcomes related to their broader college experience than students who did not participate in any student organizations.