Can Student Engagement in Extracurricular Activities Facilitate the Development of Their Soft Skills?
Keywords:student experience, student engagement, extracurricular activities, soft skills, teamwork skills
Critical thinking and teamwork have never been more important than they are in the 21st century. These skills are the key to success in the job market and an essential part of the university curriculum. Educators and education policy makers around the world look for ways to develop and improve these skills, for example, through student engagement in various activities on campus. The aim of this study is to investigate the contribution of student extracurricular engagement to the development of student soft skills.
The current study is based on the project “Student experience at the research university (SERU)”. The sample involves 3,344 respondents representing undergraduate students enrolled in different majors at a Russian national research university in the academic year of 2016-2017. Binary logistic regression was used to estimate the contribution of student extracurricular engagement. Results suggest that there is a statistically significant difference between the distributions of gains in interpersonal and teamwork skills of those students who were and those who were not involved in extracurricular activities.
The purpose of the study is to show that engaging students in the activities beyond classroom but closely tied to educational process increases their human and social capital up to the level required by higher education. Extracurricular activities facilitate student interpersonal communication and help develop teamwork competency. The findings might encourage university administration and academic staff to consider creating and promoting a place where students could reflect upon what they have learned and practice their skills.