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4 Tips for Student Engagement Outside the Classroom

Co-curricular experiences in college are critical for students’ “intellectual skill development, overall college adjustment, practical skill growth, and positive self-images” according to Dr. Audrey Murrell, Associate Dean of Pitt Business. Unfortunately, many students don’t think they have time outside of their schoolwork for co-curricular activities or they don’t realize outside-the-classroom experiences are necessary until it’s too late. Below are some tips for engaging your students in your outside-the-classroom curriculum.

  1. Emphasize the value of learning outside-the-classroom.

    Oftentimes students are discouraged from spending their time outside-the-classroom on co-curricular activities, because of the misconception that their time should be focused on solely their academics. Emily Rapport, a senior at Davidson College in North Carolina, admits in her edSurge article entitled “Why Course Credits Don’t Reflect What I Learn” that “[she] often hear[s] the message from faculty and administrators that [her] co-curricular activities compete with [her] learning, or make [her] an ‘overcommitted’ student who is distracted from her pursuits in the classroom.” Of course a degree is one of the outcomes of pursuing a post-secondary education, but isn’t the ultimate outcome to accrue valuable knowledge? Learning should be encouraged, whether or not it takes place inside a classroom. Help students understand the value of extending their pursuit of knowledge beyond the walls of the classroom and how it will benefit their long term success.

  1. Provide actionable advice.

    All is well and good if students are participating in your outside-the-classroom curriculum, but if they don’t understand how to apply their skills to the outside world the students missed an opportunity. Have your students track their co-curricular activities, help them reflect on how their co-curricular activities differentiate them from other students, and provide context as to how completing these activities makes them more qualified candidates.

  1. Incentivize and encourage friendly competition.

    We attribute a large part of our high engagement numbers at our partner schools to the competitive spirit of student organizations. Suitable’s student organization leaderboard makes rewarding incentives to highly involved student organizations easier than ever. Through Suitable’s student organization ranking algorithm student orgs are ranked based on their engagement numbers, not just the amount of activities they have completed, recognizing smaller student organizations for their hard work. Our partner schools provide the top performing student organizations with a monetary reward at the end of the academic year to go toward the club’s programming.

  1. Recognize and reward success.

    Reinforcing positive behavior is an important aspect of engaging students. Students who go above and beyond the call of duty should be recognized for their work, whether you reward them with prizes, like gift cards, or commend students on social media. The recognition you give outstanding students will reinforce their actions and lead to favorable action in the future.


There is no quick fix, but we’ve seen these methods help increase student engagement outside the classroom. If you’re interested in learning more about engaging your students outside the classroom, sign up here for our webinar on February 25th at 2:00 pm EST.

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