This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Overwhelmed and Under Pressure: The Influence of Extracurricular Over-Involvement on Academic Success and Student-Faculty Relationships




Koehler, Jessica

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Involvement in extracurricular activities is an oft-studied element of the college experience, especially as it has been linked to positive academic and non-academic measures. Yet, the possible limits of involvement’s benefit suggest by Astin (1999) have not been scrutinized heavily. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between undergraduate involvement, particularly at high levels, and student success measures (GPA, retention, persistence, duration of study, graduation rates, academic challenge, and faculty interactions). The participants were freshmen and seniors selected from those who took the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in the spring of 2008 at a large southeaster university. Based on their response to the question, “About how many hours do you spend in a typical 7-day week participating in co-curricular activities (organization, campus publications, student government, fraternity or sorority, intercollegiate or intramural sports, etc.),” three involvement groups were created. Over-involved students (n=246) were those who reported 11 or more hours a week on extracurriculars, involved students (n=267) were those who reported between 1 and 10 hours a week, and uninvolved students (n=308) were those reported spending zero hours a week on extracurriculars. These participants were assessed on their responses to the NSSE benchmark of Level of Academic Challenge (LAC) and the composite measure Faculty-Student Interactions (FACRX). Institutional data concerning GPA, matriculation and graduation dates, and retention, and persistence were also gathered. One-way ANOVAs were conducted to determine if there were differences on success measures as a function of involvement level. For all measures, a significant difference was discovered between the groups. Two-way ANOVAs were also utilized to examine the influence of gender and class rank on the found relationships. The results uncovered several varying relationships when comparing genders and class ranks. Although few concrete patterns did not arise, potential limits of over-involvement, especially for seniors, was revealed.