Sunday, November 5, 2017

Knowledge, Creativity, and Extracurricular Activities

By Howard Rambsy II and Rae’Jean Spears

A couple of weeks ago, we spoke with nearly 50 first-year African American students about their extracurricular activities at SIUE. In our studies and conversations related to our Creativity @ SIUE project, we became interested in how apparent non-academic participation is shaping the intellectual and social experiences of students.

Most important, we learned that many students, at least the ones we spoke with, were struggling to identify quality extracurricular activities. Several of them were highly active in projects as high school students, but perhaps as first-year college students, they have yet to find or decide on a community that they want to associate. One of the positive results of having small group discussions about extracurricular participation on campus was that students learned they were not alone in their search for activities.

Some students, in fact, had identified groups, and they had become active in those organizations. For instance, one student is an active member of the dance team. She dedicates roughly 12 hours per week to practices.

There were a number of students in faith based organizations such as 9:02, the Gospel Choir, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. A few other organizations that students are involved in include: the competitive cheer team, the Black Student Union, and Black Girls Rock. While students are not involved in a large number of organizations, the organizations they are involved in appear to be the same ones.

We will next need to talk with second-, third-, and fourth-year students to get a sense of how their levels of participation shifted over the years. Did they struggle to identify extracurricular groups, or did their involvement occur smoothly? How has their involvement with a single group or various groups shaped their development at the university over the years? These are the kinds of questions we’ll plan to ask various upper-level students moving forward.

Creativity @ SIUE

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