Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Skip Trudeau

Second Advisor

Thomas Jones

Third Advisor

Scott Moeschberger


Higher Education leaders have long been interested in the relationship between the curricular and co-curricular components of a four-year undergraduate institution (Fried, 2007). Leaders of traditional four-year residential universities are especially interested in this relationship as a potential value-added factor supporting their intentionally student-focused, highly interactive program. Astin’s (1999) theory of student involvement points out that the more energy a student exerts in her or his experience, the better she or he will perform academically. Astin’s theory applies both within and outside of the classroom. Kuh’s seminal research (1995) focused on the effects of student engagement in extracurricular activities outside of the classroom and with faculty and staff in levels of student learning. His research confirmed the powerful impact of the co-curriculum on student learning (Kinzie & Kuh, 2007).

This research project was designed as a quantitative correlational study for the purpose of measuring the impact of the co-curriculum as an integral component in student academic success. It examined a group of 180 seniors at a private, liberal arts, four-year institution in the Midwest. The researcher collected and scored student essays, which measured student ability in academic outcomes. Students also completed a survey asking questions about involvement in seven areas of campus: residence hall activities, all-campus events, leadership, multicultural, spiritual, intellectual, and athletics. Scores from the essays and the surveys were matched and then analyzed. It was found that students who were more involved in the areas of the co-curriculum including multicultural, all-campus events, leadership, and residence hall events had higher outcome scores than those students who were less involved in these areas.