Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess the educational value of cumulative participation over four years in intensive co-curricular experiences at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. We compared responses to the National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE) institutional-contribution-to-gains and satisfaction items for 103 senior co-curricular participants and a matched group of nonparticipants. Participants reported significantly greater gains than their nonparticipant peers in nine areas of personal development, with moderateeffect sizes on developing a personal code of values/ethics and contributing to the welfare of your community, and smaller-effect sizes for the seven remaining areas. Among co-curricular participants, the number of years of co-curricular experience was significantly and positively correlated with gains in understanding people of other racial/ethnic backgrounds, deepened sense of spirituality, and agreement that if they had it to do over they would choose the same institution. This study provides a model for assessing the value of out-of-class experiences, while addressing common challenges with such assessments.

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