Can Student Engagement in Extracurricular Activities Facilitate the Development of Their Soft Skills?
Such abilities as to think critically and collaborate with others have never been more important than in the 21st century. These skills constitute a fundamental element of success in the job market, and become an essential aspect of the universities curriculum. Educators and policy makers around the world are in search for ways to develop and improve these skills through student engagement in various activities on campus. The aim of this study is to investigate the contribution of students’ extracurricular engagement to the fostering academic outcomes such as interpersonal and teamwork skills.
The current study is based on the Student Experience in Research University (SERU) Project. The sample consists of undergraduate students of different majors enrolled at a Russian research-intensive university in the academic year 2016-2017 and equals to 3,344 respondents. Binary logistic regression was used to estimate the contribution of students’ involvement in extracurricular activities in developing interpersonal and teamwork skills.
The results suggest that there is a statistically significant difference between the underlying distributions of gains in interpersonal and teamwork skills of students who were involved in extracurricular activities and those who were not.
A premise of this work is that engaging students in activities beyond the classroom but related to academic curriculum would increase their human and social capital to the normative importance that university places on higher education beyond the Bachelor’s degree. Engagement in extracurricular activities offered by universities fosters students’ interpersonal and teamwork skills. Our research findings should encourage administrators and faculty to consider creating and promoting the avenues available to undergraduates to help them make sense of the material they learned, set connections between prior and new knowledge, and practice skills.