The role of extra-curricular activities in increasing student engagement

Asian Association of Open Universities Journal

ISSN : 2414-6994

Article publication date: 23 November 2021

Issue publication date: 14 December 2021

The first objective of this study is to review the mechanism of conducting extra-curricular activities (ECAs) in the open and distance learning (ODL) setting. To achieve this objective, the procedure of ECAs at the Virtual University of Pakistan has been studied. The second objective of this study is to find the impact of ECAs on student engagement.


This is a cross-sectional quantitative study. The questionnaire has been used to collect the data. The purposive sampling technique has been used, while this study's sample size is 970. An independent sample t -test has been used to find the difference between the groups.

This study shows a significant difference between the engagement levels of students who have been part of any ECA at university compared to the students who never participated in any ECA.

Research limitations/implications

The results have been derived from the data gathered from one university only that might hinder the generalizability of the findings. The same study can be conducted in other ODL institutions to authenticate the findings.

Practical implications

This study will help in realizing the policymakers of ODL about the importance of ECCAs. This study has also discussed an existing system of conducting ECCAs in an ODL setting that can be generalized and implemented across all the ODL universities to enhance student engagement.


This study has highlighted the importance of ECAs in ODL institutions that have been neglected since forever. This study is novel because it has highlighted the importance of social interaction of students in ODL and its relation with student engagement that has not been highlighted by any study so far.

  • Student engagement
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Co-curricular activities

Munir, S. and Zaheer, M. (2021), "The role of extra-curricular activities in increasing student engagement", Asian Association of Open Universities Journal , Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 241-254.

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Saba Munir and Muhammad Zaheer

Published in Asian Association of Open Universities Journal . Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at


The emergence of knowledge economies has made everyone realize that individuals must focus on continuous education to thrive in the current competitive environment ( Sharma, 2018 ). Open and distance learning (ODL) has been proved to be a viable source for making education accessible at minimum cost to all, removing the boundaries of gender, age, economic status or physical proximity ( Bordoloi, 2018 ). ODL has been playing an essential role in disseminating education to the masses for many decades. But its existence has become inevitable during the last couple of years that have brought a revolutionary change in the perspective and policies of the education sector across the world due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ( Almaiah et al. , 2020 ). Although distance education in terms of policies, procedures and technologies has significantly emerged, few variables in the ODL chain are still missing or are in their infancy, “Student Affairs” is one of those variables ( Dare et al. , 2005 ). Among various student-related issues, the most ignored one is extra-curricular activities (ECAs) in ODL. Along with enhancing the physical and mental abilities of students, ECAs provide multiple benefits to the concerning educational institutions including, student retention ( Flores-Gonzälez, 2000 ), better employability skills in students ( Lau et al. , 2014 ), student motivation and student engagement ( Gunuc and Kuzu, 2015 ). ODL institutions can also achieve the benefits offered by ECAs by making these a part of their academic calendar.

Few studies have highlighted the importance of ECAs in open distance education ( Foley and Marr, 2019 ; Ruth, 2005 ). However, literature still lacks in providing a widely accepted mechanism of implementing ECAs in ODL institutions and explains the impact on non-traditional students. The role of ECAs is still unclear in the ODL institutions, and there is a strong need for a better understanding of the long-term impact of ECAs ( Stuart et al. , 2011 ).

The current research attempts to study the impact of participation in ECAs on student engagement in the ODL setting. This study highlights that an ODL institute like a conventional institute can balance academic knowledge, personal development and extra-curricular engagement to provide a learning environment that facilitates students' personal and professional grooming.

To study the mechanism of conducting ECAs at an ODL institute.

To find the impact of participation in ECAs on student engagement.

Literature review

ECAs are activities that students perform other than earning a degree during their education at a particular institute. Stuart et al. (2011) defined ECAs as “all activities beyond ‘the classroom’, such as involvement in university clubs and societies, paid and voluntary employment, family commitments, religious activity.” As the name suggests, these are separate from students' primary curriculum to earn a degree. There is no second opinion about the importance of ECAs in a student's life. Via ECAs, students' employability or work skills can be enhanced ( Tran, 2017 ). Many universities worldwide have already included ECAs in their strategies to improve students' employability skills ( Al-Ansari et al. , 2016 ). ECAs allow students to work in natural settings, and according to Osman (2011) , skills gained through practical learning have a more profound impact on students. They can build better collaborative working skills. In their study on business graduates, Lau et al. (2014) found that students who participate in ECAs rate their creativity, communication skills, leadership and self-promotion skills higher than their fellow students who do not participate in ECAs. Few studies highlighted that participation in certain ECAs could help students access large firms, secure jobs, avoid unemployment and increase academic achievements ( Eide and Ronan, 2001 ). Academic achievement is the most compelling factor for the parents and the students as all students' future endeavors depend on it. Stuart et al. (2011) linked high involvement in ECAs with higher marks in academics.

Kaufman and Gabler (2004) emphasized the importance of ECAs. They stated that institutions should allow their students to participate in ECAs to build their human, cultural and social capital. In a study on alumni of various UK-based universities, Stuart et al. (2011) found that alumni related their self-confidence, well-being and happiness with university's social activities. They linked the social aspect of the ECAs with the networking that ultimately helped them secure a good job. Participation in various activities like sports, music, dance and community services increases students' chances of admission to higher education institutions (HEIs). These activities increase students' self-confidence and exposure ( Kaufman and Gabler, 2004 ). Aoyagi et al. (2020) studied the factors that motivate students to participate in various ECAs. Among different factors, the prominent ones were the sense of responsibility and continuity, the spirit of challenge, and advancement. Participation in such activities enhances the students' skills and increases their motivation ( Wallhead et al. , 2014 ), and this increased motivation leads towards better academic results. These activities enhance certain skills or interests and improve affiliation with the institution.

Researchers have always focused on ECAs at the school or college level, while less work has been done on its role at the university level. The studies are scarce when we talk about the ECAs at online distance learning institutions. The academicians focus on developing learning objectives to ascertain a student's knowledge from the course work. Still, they rarely give their students a conducive environment to groom or transform personally and professionally. It is easier for traditional institutions to arrange ECAs at their premises to engage their students. In an ODL setting, geographic dispersion and time constraints make it difficult for the institutions to arrange such activities ( Fontaine and Cook, 2014 ). According to Tucker (2003) , non-traditional students are less interested in ECAs as they balance their family, degree and work obligations. Holding this view for many years, ODL institutions have ignored the importance of ECAs. But now, the trend is changing; these days, we can find diversity in ODL in terms of students. Today, in ODL institutions, we can find a young 20-year-old student who is full time perusing the bachelor's degree or a 50-year-old who is doing the MPhil to progress in career, a housewife with children, or a young girl doing her diploma in psychology. Considering this diversity, researchers and academicians have realized that non-traditional students should also be provided with the chance of participation in ECAs as it provides them with the same depth of experiential learning as the campus-based students ( Dare et al. , 2005 ). These students are also part of the institutional community, and they should be provided with all the programs or activities offered to traditional campus-based students.

Participation in ECAs increases students' affiliation with their institution, and the absence of such activities can cause a disconnection or weaken the identification with their alma mater ( Ruth, 2005 ). The lack of interaction can cause the feeling of isolation in the ODL students. In previous literature on distance learning, the relationship between student success and a sense of connection with the institution is missing. Krauth and Carbajal (1999) found a strong relationship between the sense of connection and completion and satisfaction. This connection between institution and student can be enhanced with student services and ECAs. It can be the most effective way to employ the highest level of socialization, interest, sense of achievement and involvement in the participants, enhancing student engagement.

Student engagement has gained the academic researchers' special attention as an essential source of decreasing boredom, dropout rates and increasing achievement levels ( Fredricks, 2011 ). Student engagement plays a vital role in the academic and intellectual development of the student and improves student performance ( Dassanayake and Senevirathne, 2018 ; Sun and Rueda, 2012 ).

Sense of engagement encourages students to actively participate in the classroom, ultimately leading to better academic and social outcomes ( Siddiqi, 2018 ).

Gunuc and Kuzu (2015) defined engagement as “the quality and quantity of students' psychological, cognitive, emotional and behavioral reactions to the learning process, as well as to in-class/out-of-class academic and social activities, to achieve successful learning outcomes” (p. 3). The construct of student engagement consists of three dimensions: emotional, behavioral and cognitive. Fredricks et al. (2004) conducted a comprehensive study on the concept of engagement and gave a detailed literature review of all the dimensions of engagement. They defined behavioral engagement as the student's involvement in learning and academic tasks, school-related activities and positive conduct. Emotional engagement deals with a student's feelings towards belongingness with the institution and the positive or negative reactions towards the institute and the activities.

In contrast, Fredricks et al. (2004) explained cognitive engagement as a student's level of investment in learning and acquiring complex skills. Measuring student engagement is challenging in ODL settings than traditional face-to-face learning and should be measured differently ( Henrie et al. , 2015 ). Different factors can enhance student engagement like campus environment, association with peers or institutions, etc. For this study, authors have taken ECAs as a source of student engagement.

Various ODL institutions have started offering ECAs for their students. Fontaine and Cook (2014) studied the co-curricular activities' strategy of a distance learning school of pharmacy and health professions. The school required students to get registered with any professional association to get their field's real-time experience. This model is specified to the medical profession only. Moreover, they have not included ECAs in this model.

Participation in ECAs increases student engagement.

Extra-curricular activities at the Virtual University of Pakistan

Virtual University of Pakistan (VUP) is a federal university established in 2002. Virtual University is a distance learning university having more than 200 campuses across Pakistan. VUP is catering to the educational needs of students across the country and living overseas ( Zaheer and Munir, 2020 ). Considering the need for out-of-the-class activities and their impact on students' academic performance and grooming, VUP established its ECAs plan under the platform of “LIFE At VU” in 2014. Since then, VUP has successfully conducted its annual activities named “Student Week” every year, having many students participate in clubs and societies.

This section provides the overall procedure of conducting ECAs at VUP.


Currently, 15 societies/clubs are working at VUP to promote students' physical, intellectual, ethical and leadership abilities. These societies/clubs cater to students' extra-curricular needs in competitions like photography, debates, sports, dramatics, entrepreneurship and voluntarism.

How it works

The VUP is an online distance learning institution. It is critical to involve students in ECAs to enhance their physical and mental growth and give them an experience of excitement and thrill associated with activities other than coursework and studies.

Activities where no physical presence is required.

Activities where the physical presence of the students is required.

Activities with no physical presence

VUP designed its system utilizing information technology (IT) in a way that maximum students could participate. A web portal is created where students can submit their creative material online. Every student has been assigned a unique VU-ID that can be used to log in to the portal or get registered in any competition or be a member of any club/society. Students who want to be part of Camera Club, Literary Club, IT Club or Society for the rising entrepreneurs are the main focus of this portal.

This paper will take the camera club as an example and discuss its functionality in distance learning institute.

Announcement of competition

Every year before the commencement of Student Week, Camera Club announces a competition where a theme is given. All the students of VUP (national and international) are invited to submit three photographs on the given theme. According to the theme, a tab for photo competition (as shown in the below-given image) is available on the website (, where students submit original photographs taken by them (see Figure 1 ).

After the due date, initial screening is done, and shortlisted photographs (original, according to the theme) are uploaded on the website, and voting is opened for all the students. Each student from VUP can vote for one picture. Meanwhile, the expert photographers make the evaluation. The result is declared with the percentage of experts' opinion and voting of students, as shown in Figure 2 .

During this whole competition, the students are not required to visit any campus; students can submit their creative work online without the limitation of time and place.

The same procedure is followed for other societies where physical presence is not required like, essay competitions, poetry competitions, programming and idea competitions, etc.

Activities where the physical presence of the students is required

Few activities need the physical presence of students like sports and performing arts. These activities need a different approach. VUP has its presence across the country by its campuses in more than 100 cities of Pakistan that have been divided into five regions, and every region is further divided into sub-regions.

Announcement of competitions

Every year during “student week” competitions are announced in all the categories like debates, short play, singing and sports activities (cricket, badminton, table tennis etc.). For this study, we shall take cricket as an example of physical presence-based activities in ODL.

After the competition announcement, all the sportsmen/sportswomen must register themselves on society's web portal ( ) under the relevant competition. Every campus manager can see the registered students of his/her campus. After the deadline, all the sub-regions' students are called for trials where a sub-region team is selected. A tournament is conducted at each region where all the teams of sub-regions compete to represent a region. In the grand event conducted at the central level, five teams representing each region compete for Student Week's winning trophy.

The same procedure is followed for debating competitions, singing competitions, painting competitions and other sports activities.

VUP has been conducting ECAs successfully through this system since 2014 and has engaged thousands of students in various competitions.


This is an explanatory study using a cross-sectional design. Individual students of VUP are unit of analysis in the study. It is a quantitative study in which survey research has been employed using an online structured questionnaire.

Target population

This study's target population is all the students enrolled at VUP during the year 2013–2018. Virtual University started its ECAs in 2014, so the starting year has been set as 2013. Due to COVID-19, student week has been suspended since 2019, so 2018 has been selected as the end year.

Sampling technique and sample size

Purposive sampling has been used to collect the data. With the IT department's help at VUP, the online questionnaire link was sent through e-mail to all the students enrolled during 2013–18. An e-mail was also sent to all the students registered in any society at the “Life at VU” web portal. Campus managers were also involved in getting maximum response from the students. Around 1,500 responses were received; after excluding the missing data and incomplete responses and responses of students who were not part of VUP during 2013–18, the data of 907 students were available for further analysis.

Data collection

A survey questionnaire has been used to get the responses from students. Different researchers have developed questionnaires to measure student engagement at the university level, while few authors attempted to measure engagement in ODL settings like Dixson (2015) and ( Yang, 2011 ). But these questionnaires have focused on the content or procedures of the curriculum. Considering the study's unique nature, which focuses on ECAs, none of the questionnaires used in ODL related research could be used. However, an instrument developed by Gunuc and Kuzu (2015) that measures students' psychological engagement, cognitive engagement and emotional engagement was used in the study. This study is being conducted on the ODL students; so, only one dimension, “psychological engagement”, has been measured, using two sub-dimensions: valuing and sense of belonging. The questionnaire consisted of 14 items.

Reliability analysis

The questionnaire consisted of 14 items, 3 items measured valuing, and 11 items measured belongingness.

The instrument's reliability has been 0.921, which is considered very good. This high-reliability score indicates that the instrument was consistent in measuring the underlying concepts.

Data analysis

The primary aim of this study is to measure the effects of ECAs on student engagement. For this purpose, two groups have been identified—those who have never participated in any ECA and those who participated in any such activity.

Table 1 shows group statistics. Code “1” was assigned to those who participated in ECAs, and code “2” was given to those who did not participate in the ECAs.

Table 1 shows that 429 students participated in ECAs while 478 did not take part in ECAs. The mean of student engagement for participating students is 4.077 and for non-participating students is 3.927.

To check if the mean difference between the two groups shown in Table 1 is statistically significant, an independent sample t -test has been applied to measure the differences in students' engagement level with their institution. The data set complied with all the assumptions of the t -test. Dependent variable engagement is measured on a continuous scale; the independent variable is participation, a categorical variable, observations were independent of each other, the dependent variable is normally distributed. Homogeneity of variance is established through Levene's test ( Pallant, 2011 ).

Table 2 shows the results of the t -test.

Levene's test shows that both groups came from populations with equal variances as p -value 0.377 is greater than 0.05. It exhibits that one of the assumptions of the t -test, homogeneity of variance, is established. The t -test results indicate a statistically significant difference in the students' overall engagement, who participate and who do not participate in the ECAs. This result shows that taking part in ECAs significantly affects students' engagement in distance learning.

Student engagement is made up of two sub-categories valuing and belongingness. After establishing the overall significance of student engagement of participating and non-participating students in ECAs, the statistical significance of valuing and belongingness is discussed individually.

Table 3 shows the t -test result of valuing.

Participation in ECAs does not affect the valuing of the students towards their institution. It implies that students appreciate their alma mater in any case, whether they participate or do not participate in ECAs.

Table 4 shows the independent sample t -test regarding the students' belongingness towards their institution.

It is evident from Table 4 that participation and non-participation in ECAs are highly significantly different phenomena. The mean score of those who participated in the ECAs was 3.9018, while those who did not participate was 3.6213. The difference was highly significant, showing that participation enhances students' sense of belongingness towards their institution.

It is a common belief that a healthy body keeps a healthy mind, and to act upon this universal advice, educational institutes conduct ECAs for their students. The conduct of such activities in traditional on-campus institutions is a norm and routine. But arranging these activities in a distance learning institute where students are separated by time and space is a big challenge. The VUP accepted this challenge and initiated ECAs at the university in 2014. These activities range from indoor games like online gaming, painting and badminton to outdoor games like cricket and futsal.

Moreover, competitions like debating, drama and fine arts are also being held. Students from all over the country and overseas participate in these games and contests. Arrangement of all these activities, which are termed “Student Week”, has been a new trend in distance learning institutions. This is a unique practice that has made students more enthusiastic and connected.

This study also focused on the students' reaction towards participation in ECAs. The study results show that student participation in ECAs positively affects the overall student engagement with the university. For this study, participation is an independent categorical variable, and psychological engagement has been taken as a dependent variable comprised of two dimensions, valuing and belongingness. Valuing is defined as students' feelings towards their institution and the value they associate with being part of that institution ( Gunuc and Kuzu, 2015 ). While, belongingness is defined as the feelings of students that they are accepted by other members of their institution (teachers, students) ( Goodenow, 1992 ). Ndudzo (2013) found that students' engagement in ODL is driven by the communication between students and universities and the relationship between students. These ECAs are a source of interaction between peers and the universities. The same has been found in our study. Table 5 shows a significant difference in students' belongingness who participated in ECAs compared to those who did not. It explains that communication and interaction between students and the university can increase students' engagement and affiliation with their institution. Foley and Marr (2019) found that students' participation in ECAs enhances the sense of belonging to a community in ODL setting. Henrie et al. (2015) also observed that participation in society/clubs could improve students' belongingness, supporting the findings of the current study.

In contrast, no significant difference in the “Valuing” dimension of engagement has been found in the participation or non-participation group. It shows that students give value to their university irrespective of their participation in any ECAs. It can be inferred that taking part in ECAs does not affect the value they give to their institution, as getting admission reflects the value given to their choice.

When the composite variable “Engagement” comprising valuing and belongingness was tested, it was statistically significant, as shown in Table 3 . Students who participated in ECAs showed a higher mean score of 4.0772 than those who did not, with a mean score of 3.9275. This result confirms the proposed hypothesis that participation in ECAs increases student engagement. If an institution wants to increase student engagement, ECAs are among the many sources that can be used. These activities increase student engagement, self-confidence, employability skills and motivation, which is the educational institution's ultimate objective.

Though a large number of students participate in ECAs, still many students do not participate. There are certain reasons for non-participation in ECAs. VUP is an online distance learning institute where students get admission due to flexibility and ease of study. Many students are working professionals who are unable to join ECAs due to their job commitments. Tran (2017) also identified students' job commitments as a reason of less participation in ECAs. Location can pose a barrier for student participation ( Dickinson et al. , 2021 ). Due to cultural barriers, the travel of female students becomes an impediment to participation in ECAs. However, by participating in online competitions, some students compensate for their absence in games that require physical presence.

To increase the participation of students in ECAs, VUP is using multiple sources like e-mails, text messages or social media. Social media is an effective source to increase students' interest in various activities ( Robbins and Singer, 2014 ). Considering the importance of social media, VUP has launched an independent Facebook page of “Life at VU” with the aim to provide students with a platform where they can share their experiences of various competitions and socialize with other students. The social media presence of ODL institutes can enhance student engagement and participation ( Morton et al. , 2019 ).

Limitations and directions for future research

The results of this study have been derived from the data gathered from one university only that might hinder the generalizability of the findings. Future studies can replicate the same study in other ODL institutions to authenticate the findings. The mechanism of ECAs discussed in this study is developed based on the available resource and cultural and structural dynamics of the institution and the country. ODL institutions of other countries can design it as per their dynamics. Moreover, a comparative study of different countries can be conducted in future to see the differences in approach of conducting ECAs and student engagement.

This study found that ECAs in ODL can be conducted successfully. Students in ODL complain about being socially disconnected; such practices can mitigate these negative perceptions towards ODL as VUP has been conducting such activities for the last seven years.

It was also found that participation in ECAs enhances students' belongingness to their institution, resulting in student retention and lowers the dropout rate in ODL.

This study attempts to bring into light an important factor of student engagement in ODL that has been ignored. This study has provided empirical evidence that ECAs are equally crucial for conventional and non-conventional learners.

research paper on co curricular activities

Life at VU portal

research paper on co curricular activities

Photo competition

Group statistics

Independent samples test (Valuing)

Independent samples test (Belonging)

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This study aimed to examine the relationship between students’ personalities with their level of engagement in co-curricular activities in schools around the Kuala Lumpur  Sentul  Zone. This quantitative study used survey questionnaires and involved 35 1  respondents consisting of selected Form 4 students from four selected schools. Correlation analysis showed that there was a significant relationship (r = 0.762,  p  = 0.00) between students’ personalities and their engagement in co-curricular activities among students. The results showed that students’ personalities can be developed and their level of engagement in co-curricular activities can also be determined.

Student Personality , Student Engagement and Co-Curriculum

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1. Introduction

Recently, new changes in Malaysian education system emerged as the Malaysian Education Development Plan (PPPM) 2013-2025 is gradually being implemented. The plan is designed to reflect the national education philosophy of “ ongoing effort to further develop the potential of a holistic and integrated individual in creating intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced citizen based on trust and obedience to God.” The policy by Malaysian’s Minister of Education (MOE) also focuses on shaping and developing students’ personalities. The curriculum and co-curricular systems are created by the MOE is clear in shaping students’ personalities in schools. The personalities are not only shaped through the education system but also with various factors including families, friends, cultural influences, breeds, body shapes, intelligence and emotions (Yahaya et al., 2008) . Therefore, factors that influence personality development will produce different characters or personalities since the source of the development varies. According to Malek (2005) , Halim & Chieng (2016) and Kwai (2010) , the process in building an individual’s personality must be continuous and comprehensive without any separation between curriculum and co-curriculum. The development of students’ personalities and generic skills in schools varies in many ways and strongly associated with involvement in co-curricular activities (Esa et al., 2004) . An example given by Smith & Comyn (2004) and Blumenthal (2009) shows that students who engaged in co-curricular activities were able to manage time and become more disciplined. This is because co-curriculum education emphasized on the aspect of self-discipline. Therefore, educational psychology needs to be emphasized in schools so that students’ daily lives are better managed in line with the national education philosophy.

2. Problem Statement

In terms of personality, Mustafa et al. (2014) reported that current students’ personalities were at a moderate level. Students have a variety of personalities and require some efforts to acquire superior personalities. However, it is not possible to form a superior personality even if their engagement in co-curricular activities is at a moderate level. In terms of students’ engagement in co-curricular activities, Hasan et al. (2013) and Jemaan (2013) stated that students’ engagement in co-curricular activities was at moderate level even though it was conducted throughout the year. Muamat (2016) supported the finding by stating that students’ engagement in co-curricular activities was inconsistent throughout the year and focused only on programs or competitions. Allen et al. (2015) reported that students who did not engage in any co-curricular activities were affecting their level of personalities. In the light of such situations, the main question that needs to be addressed is whether personality is formed through co-curricular activities in schools and if yes, why the students were still not acquiring the best personalities even though they have been following co-curricular activities for a long time. Next, whether the cause of the current problems that occur is due to 1) how the system was developed, 2) the methods used by school’s administration, 3) the students’ problematic personalities on their own, 4) the social influences encounter by the students or 5) other possible issues that may influence the students. To overcome the problems, the researchers decided to identify whether the students’ personalities were developed through the co-curricular activities and the relationship between the students’ personalities and their engagement in co-curricular activities. Therefore, this study focused on the impact between different types of students’ personality and their level of engagement in co-curricular activities in school.

3. Research Objectives

1) To identify the types of personality among Form 4 students in Secondary Schools around Kuala Lumpur Sentul Zone.

2) To identify the level of engagement in co-curricular activities among Form 4 students in Secondary Schools around Kuala Lumpur Sentul Zone.

3) To identify the relationship between personality and engagement in co-curricular activities among Form 4 students in Secondary Schools around the Kuala Lumpur Sentul Zone.

4. Literature Review

This study was based on the Big Five Personality Theory (Goldberg, 1992) . The theory is described as a comprehensive framework to measure one’s personality. The theory was developed through a comprehensive dimension known as “OCEAN” namely Open-ness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Each of the dimension would be analyzed into high scores or low scores. A person’s personality score can be determined based on a scale. For example, if you have a high extraversion score, you are more likely to make friends. Meanwhile if you have a low extraversion scores, you have the tendency to pull away from hanging out with people around (Lounsbury et al., 2003; Iskandar, 2013) . The OCEAN model introduces dimensions that are likely related to the changes in personality traits of an individual that could affect one’s goals for life and self-concept (McCrae & Costa, 1994) . The dimensions of the “Big Five” and their aspects are intertwined with individuals that could influence the behavior of future generations that could generally affect the balance of life (Jang et al., 2002; Roberts & Del Vecchio, 2000) . According to Noftle & Robins (2007) , the Big Five Personality Theory is the most widely used approach to explain students’ behavior in learning and achievement. Meanwhile, in terms of implementation, most activities are carried out throughout the year with schools aiming at developing students with superior personalities. It would be in line with the national educational goal, aiming at producing and shaping balanced and holistic behaviors and personalities in an individual. Implementation of these co-curricular activities can be done in or outside of the classroom as appropriate to the situation. Implementation of co-curricular activities should include prior preparations and past experiences in order to develop interests, physical, spiritual, mental, and other values. According to Ashaari (2007) , schools need to carry out co-curricular activities that focus on the development of the individual’s potential in terms of improving personality, discipline, well-being and communication skills. Previous study by Hasan et al. (2013) , found that students’ engagement in co-curricular activities was moderate even though it was conducted throughout the year. He added that the students were also less interested and did not fully commit themselves to participate in the co-curricular activities. Muamat (2016) found that students’ involvement in co-curricular activities was inconsistent throughout the year and focused only on programs or competitions. Jemaan (2013) found that students’ engagement in co-curricular activities was moderate. This indicates that students’ engagement in co-curricular activities is inactive. However, many studies have shown that involvement in co-curricular activities has positive effects on students’ self-esteem. Hassan & Safar (2010) stated that engaging in co-curricular activities had a positive effect on the development of students’ personalities. Pulford & Sohal (2006) , Richardson et al. (2012) and Haron & Idris (2010) pointed out that students who engaged in co-curricular activities were able to manage their time, became more disciplined and further shaped a disciplinary personality within the individual. This is crucial as it could directly educate an individual’s personality, which will further influence their performance. Thus, it can be concluded that there is a link between students’ personalities and their engagement in co-curricular activities.

5. Methodology

In this study, the researcher used a quantitative research method by using questionnaire as the instrument to obtain the research data. The research sample involved a total of 351 respondents through random sampling technique. The population was taken among Form 4 students from four selected schools around Kuala Lumpur Sentul Zone. The pilot study used Cronbach’s alpha to obtain reliability scores. The mean value of the 30 student personality items was 0.79. Meanwhile, 33 co-curriculum items showed a Cronbach’s alpha value of 0.89. Both of these values indicate that the reliability of the study is good and appropriate. This is because according to Guilford’s Rule of Thumb (Guilford & Fruchter, 1973) , alpha values > 0.9 are excellent and alpha values > 0.8 are good. In addition, this study used descriptive statistics instruments to describe the types of personality and the level of engagement in co-curriculum activities by looking at the value of frequency scores, percentages, mean and standard deviation. Meanwhile, the inference statistics used Pearson Correlation analysis to examine the relationship between types of personality and engagement in co-curricular activities among secondary school students around Kuala Lumpur.

6. Findings and Discussions

The findings of this study were divided into three sections. The first section was to determine the types of personality among Form 4 students in secondary schools around the Kuala Lumpur Sentul zone. The second section was to determine the level of engagement in co-curricular activities among Form 4 students at the Secondary School Kuala Lumpur Sentul Zone. Finally, the third section was to determine the relationship or correlation between the personality and engagement in co-curricular activities among the Form 4 students at the Secondary School Kuala Lumpur Sentul Zone.

6.1. Types of Personality

The analysis results of types of personality among Form 4 students in selected secondary schools in Kuala Lumpur Sentul Zone are shown in Table 1 . The results showed that the overall personality of the students was at a moderate to

Table 1 . Mean and standard deviation for types of personality.

high level with an overall mean value (Mean = 3.605, SD = 0.513). The finding is in line with the study by Mustafa et al. (2014) , who found that students’ level of personalities was at moderate level. However, the differences in personalities that exist between students are considered normal because psychodynamic scholars consider differences in personality traits are not permanent and have the tendency to become stable (John & Srivastava, 1999) . The data also detailed the mean and standard deviation scores for the types of personality according to the Big Five Personality model—all of which were at moderate to high levels.

6.2. Level of Engagement in Co-Curricular Activities

The analysis results of level of engagement in co-curriculum activities among Form 4 students in selected secondary schools in Kuala Lumpur Sentul Zone are shown in Table 2 . In overall, the findings indicated that the student’s engagement in co-curricular activities was at a moderate-to-high level with an overall mean value (Mean = 3.710, SD = 0.600). The data indicated that all items were at the highest to moderate level, while the lowest and highest means were each recorded a mean score of (Mean = 3.297, SD = 0.980) and (Mean = 3.954, SD = 0.954). This finding showed that there was a lack of effort in ensuring that all students were fully engaged in co-curricular activities. This is in line with the study of Hasan et al. (2013) and Jemaan (2013) , who found that students’ engagement in co-curricularactivities was at moderate level even though it was conducted throughout the year.

6.3. Relationship between Personality and Engagement in Co-Curricular Activities

The relationship between personalities and involvement in co-curriculum activities among Form 4 students in selected secondary schools in Kuala Lumpur Sentul Zone was tested using Pearson correlation. The results of the correlation test are shown in Table 3 . The results showed that there was a significant positive relationship (r = 0.76, p = 0.00) between personalities and engagement in co-curricular activities among students. This showed that the type of personality plays a role in determining the level of involvement in co-curricular activities among students. Positive engagement resulted with positive impacts in personalities’ development. This explained how involvement in co-curriculum activities

Table 2 . Mean and standard deviation for level of engagement in co-curricular activities.

Table 3 . Relationship between personality and engagement in co-curricular activities.

could shape students’ personalities. The results can be supported by Hassan & Safar (2010) , Harun & Salamuddin (2010) and Bar-On (2000) that personalities can be constructed with engagement in co-curricular activities as students’ performances and personalities are related and influenced by one another. Laborde et al. (2015) stated that the construction of personal personality can be enhanced through students’ involvement in co-curricular activities. Allen et al. (2015) added that physical activity in co-curriculum activities could lead to positive changes for students while at the same time helpful in changing the stability of a student’s personality.

7. Implications

This study found that differences in personality traits are due to two main factors—geneticfactor and environmental factor. The genetic factor is derived from the offspring of the paternal family from the paternal side. According to Yahaya & Ahmad (2010) , the genetic factor influences more on the development of body shape or physical condition but not on the development behavior itself. Development of behavior is influenced by environmental factor such as family, friends, school, and community. For example, families with positive values will influence their children with positive personality development. Therefore, the development of students’ personalities should be emphasized through these two key factors in order to produce a holistic and balanced generation in the future. This study also found that there was a lack of resources to ensure that all students are fully engaged in co-curricular activities. The moderate level of engagement was due to students being less interested and not fully committed to participate in co-curricular activities. This is supported by Muamat (2016) , Che-Ani (2017) and Annamalai (2012) , stating that students are less interested to engage in co-curricular activities in addition to their inconsistent engagement throughout the year. This issue is needed to be addressed seriously as such condition could affect the development of students’ personalities. This study also discovered that the level of engagement in co-curricular activities plays a role in determining students’ personalities. There was a strong link between personality and engagement in co-curricular activities as it could shape one’s personality. Akhir et al. (2017) reported that engaging in a co-curricular activity is one of the mediums to develop personality domains such as social, effective and psychomotor. Students could also develop leadership and professionalism traits (Hassan & Safar, 2010; Shahiri & Adnan, 2015; Amin et al. 2017; Ghozali & Kamri, 2017) . The combination of these aspects could lead to the success of an organization, school or local community.

8. Conclusion

Based on the explanations presented in this study, it can be concluded that students need to develop their personalities by engaging in co-curricular activities. It is important for schools, District Education Office, State Education Office and Ministry of Education Malaysia (MOE) to conduct in-depth researches on co-curricular activities embedded with the aspects of personality development in schools. In conclusion, engagement in co-curricular activities could influence the development of students’ personalities and it is important to take immediate action to ensure engagement is consistent at a higher rate and impactful in developing students’ personalities.

This research is supported by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia under research “Dana Penyelidikan FPend” scheme No. PP-FPEND-2019.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.

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The Importance of Co-Curricular Programs in Student Success

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Co-curricular activities in higher education aid in boosting student success. As students engage with clubs and programs, they can strengthen their academic knowledge and gain valuable skills they may otherwise not have. Colleges and universities can build these programs to aid in student comprehension and create a more fulfilling experience on campus. Discover the importance of co-curricular programs in student success from Watermark. 

What Are Co-Curricular Activities?

Co-curricular activities in school take place outside the classroom and supplement course materials. Students perform these activities without grades or academic credit but still learn new information or reinforce current knowledge. These activities occur outside class hours and typically happen through the same institution where the student receives instruction. Examples of co-curricular activities could be newspaper clubs, student councils, musical performances, debate competitions, engineering teams, art shows, and robotics groups.

Co-Curricular vs. Extracurricular Activities: What's the Difference?

You may hear the terms “co-curricular” and “extracurricular” used interchangeably. Both occur outside the classroom and provide students with additional experience in some form or another. However, these terms have a fundamental distinction, though one institution may classify an activity as co-curricular while another may consider it extracurricular. 

In general, the difference between these is that extracurricular activities do not necessarily reinforce academic learning. While co-curricular activities relate to educational resources, strengthen comprehension, or connect students with learning in some way, extracurricular activities do not. Examples of extracurricular activities could include participating on a sports team not associated with the school, church-related activities, or Scouting. These activities are unrelated to the school, and the instructors or group leaders are not teachers, faculty members, or other school staff. 

The Value of Student Success

Student success  encompasses many facets of the academic experience. Some aspects include academics, persistence, goal achievement, core competencies, satisfaction, soft and hard skill possession, and career or life readiness after graduation. 

Your institution may define student success differently from other higher education institutions. For example, some colleges may define student success by graduation rate or program completion, while a university evaluates student advancement and academic achievement. Regardless of your institution's definition, student success plays a vital role in higher education. 

Student success involves ensuring each student has the resources they need to excel. Offering assistance in writing centers, internship offices, mentor programs, course scheduling help, holistic success pathways, and co-curricular activities can boost student success. When your students have help and support, they're more likely to continue their studies, feel satisfied on campus, and see graduation at the end of their program. 

On top of upholding your promise to deliver quality education to current students, student success helps incoming students prepare for the next phase in their academic journey. As high school juniors and seniors debate which institution they want to attend, they can refer to your student success rates. If they recognize that your institution goes above and beyond to guide students to their goals, they may be more likely to enroll. Comparatively, low student success may steer students to other institutions they feel fit their needs better. 

Why Are Co-Curricular Activities Important for Student Success?

Why Are Co-Curricular Activities Important for Student Success?

The student experience outside the classroom is essential for students. Co-curricular programs and groups can be an excellent way for students to make friends, meet people, interact with new ideas, and connect with their interests. The impact of co-curricular activities leads to  improved academic performance , multicultural awareness, cognitive development, psychological well-being, and leadership development. Other benefits of co-curricular activities include the following.

  • Improving social skills:  Co-curricular involvement encourages students to collaborate with peers and gain experience working as a team. Additionally, clubs and organizations are an excellent way to meet people with similar interests and goals. 
  • Relieving stress:  Coursework can be challenging, and students who experience anxiety can alleviate some of these unwanted feelings by participating in co-curricular activities. Students can enjoy their favorite pastimes while building skills and making friends. 
  • Strengthening applications:  These activities give students many experiences to list on job and graduate school applications. Co-curricular activities can help set students apart and highlight their remarkable qualities. 
  • Improving academic performance:  Participating in clubs and programs can teach time-management skills and improve focus. Students can benefit from the additional skills and see a boost in their coursework performance. 

Impacting Career Readiness

Co-curricular involvement fills resumes and applications with experience. As students apply for jobs and graduate school, they can use their time in co-curricular activities to exemplify their knowledge and skills. They can show evidence of team building, leadership, organization, and other skills that exhibit their ability to succeed in many roles. Studies show employers prefer to hire students who were at least minimally involved in co-curricular activities  over those without these experiences. 

Co-curricular activities paint a picture of the student beyond the classroom. Here, students can discuss their interests and what matters most to them, giving employers a deeper understanding of what drives them. Employers are looking for candidates who can be ambitious and possess well-rounded skill sets. When students show their ability to work with others, leadership roles, and advanced knowledge or skills, they become more marketable to future employers. 

Changing the Student Experience

Students can develop different skills outside and inside the classroom. Students who only attend classes lose the valuable opportunity to gain an experiential education. Those who participate in co-curricular activities can develop a more balanced experience and increase their overall satisfaction. 

When students pursue co-curricular activities, they can:

  • Build confidence
  • Increase collaboration
  • Gain new skills
  • Improve problem-solving abilities
  • Develop resilience
  • Form relationships

Boosting Student Persistence

Student involvement correlates to student success and satisfaction. When students are satisfied with their campus experience, they're more likely to re-enroll for the following semesters, effectively increasing persistence and, upon program completion,  student retention at your institution . Along with creating a balanced experience, students can get higher grades and GPAs. 

Additionally, co-curricular activities help build other skill sets that boost academic performance. For instance, students can learn time-management and focus skills they can apply to their coursework. As they create schedules for themselves and ensure they fit all tasks into their day, they can hone skills they will carry through their time on campus and into their careers. 

Implement Co-Curricular Activities With Watermark

Watermark turns insights into actions. We've been building innovative software solutions for more than 20 years, so higher education institutions can drive change and boost student success. We made our solutions for higher education, and you can use them to connect with your students and meet them where they are. 

We use data to drive our missions and want to help you do the same. With our software solutions, you won't only be checking a box — you'll be making a difference. Other institutions that have worked with Watermark saw increased engagement and  boosted retention within the first year , and you can, too. 

Browse our solutions  to discover how we can help your institution, or  request a demo of our unique software  to experience our solutions for yourself. 

Implement Co-Curricular Activities With Watermark

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