ERIC Identifier: ED394443
Publication Date: 1994-00-00
Author: Kuh, George D. - And Others
Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC.| BBB32577 _ George Washington
Univ. Washington DC. Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
Student Learning Outside the Classroom: Transcending Artificial
Boundaries. ERIC Digest.
Learning and personal development during the undergraduate years occurs as a
result of students engaging in both academic and non-academic activities, inside
and outside the classroom (Astin, 1993; Pascarella and Terenzini, 1991). To
enhance student learning, institutions must make classroom experiences more
productive and also encourage students to devote more of their time outside the
classroom to educationally purposeful activities (Kuh, Schuh, Whitt and
WHAT DO OUT-OF-CLASS EXPERIENCES CONTRIBUTE TO VALUED OUTCOMES OF COLLEGE?
This Report summarizes the research on the
contributions of out-of-class experiences to valued outcomes of postsecondary
education, including (a) cognitive complexity (e.g., critical thinking,
intellectual flexibility, reflective judgment); (b) knowledge acquisition and
application; (c) humanitarianism (e.g., interest in the welfare of others); (d)
interpersonal and intrapersonal competence (e.g., self-confidence, identity,
ability to relate to others); and (e) practical competence (e.g., decision
making, vocational preparation) (Kuh, 1993). In addition, out-of-class
experiences linked to persistence and educational attainment also are discussed.
Students who expend more effort in a variety of activities benefit the most
intellectually and in the personal development domain (Astin, 1993; Chickering
and Reisser, 1993; Pascarella and Terenzini, 1991). Some experiences, however,
are more likely than others to foster desired outcomes. For example, living in
an academic-theme residence is associated with gains in critical thinking,
intellectual development, and aesthetic appreciation; involvement in student
government has been linked to gains in student understanding and appreciation of
WHAT CONDITIONS FOSTER STUDENT LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM?
The following institutional conditions encourage students to
use their out-of-class experiences to educational advantage:
1. Clear, coherent, and consistently expressed educational purposes;
2. A guiding institutional philosophy that values talent development as a
primary goal of undergraduate education;
3. Complementary institutional policies and practices congruent with
students' characteristics and needs;
4. High, clear expectations for student performance;
5. Use of effective teaching approaches;
6. Systematic assessment of student performance and institutional
environments, policies, and practices;
7. Ample opportunities for student involvement in meaningful out-of-class
8. Human scale settings characterized by ethics of membership and care; and
9. An ethos of learning that pervades all aspects of the institution.
HOW CAN INSTITUTIONS ENHANCE STUDENT LEARNING?
institution can enhance student learning by using its existing resources more
effectively. The key tasks in transcending the artificial boundaries between
in-class and out-of-class learning experiences are (a) to break down the
barriers between various units (e.g., academic departments, administrative
services, student affairs) and (b) to create situations in which students
examine the connections between their studies and life outside the classroom and
to apply what they are learning. Key steps are for institutions to address the
importance of out-of-class experiences explicitly in the institution's mission,
develop a common understanding of the desired outcomes of undergraduate
education and the combination of institutional conditions and student
experiences most likely to produce these outcomes, assess regularly the impact
of out-of-class environments on students, and shape student cultures in ways
that foster responsible behavior.
What Can Governing Boards and Presidents Do? Governing boards positively
influence student learning beyond the classroom when they support such
experiences financially, base institutional policies on accurate data about the
quality of students' experiences, and hire a president who values undergraduate
education and understands and appreciates the contributions of life outside the
classroom to institutional and student goals. The president should periodically
remind stakeholders about the value of out-of-class experiences and make
decisions based on accurate information about students and their learning.
WHAT CAN ACADEMIC AND STUDENT AFFAIRS ADMINISTRATORS
Senior institutional officers help create an ethos of learning when they
send consistent messages about the complementarity of in-class and out-of-class
experiences, establish strong working relations with each other and
communication links with the faculty, translate what the institution values into
behavioral terms for student performance outside the classroom, disseminate data
about students and their experiences, and ask students to think about, and
apply, what they are learning in class to life outside the classroom, and vice
WHAT CAN FACULTY MEMBERS DO?
Faculty influence out-of-class
learning environments by the nature and amount of academic work they assign. To
link the curriculum and academic goals more closely with student life outside
the classroom, faculty can structure assignments that require students to
illustrate how they are using class material in other areas of their lives, use
active learning and other effective pedagogical strategies, hold students to
high expectations, and indicate clearly what they must do to succeed
WHAT CAN STUDENTS DO?
Students take responsibility for
their own learning when they participate in out-of-class activities and events
that enrich the educational experience (e.g., orientation, guest lectures,
internships), develop a portfolio of out-of-class learning experiences and
associated benefits, and discuss with others their academic progress and how
what they are learning in classes applies to other aspects of their life.
HOW CAN ARTIFICIAL BOUNDARIES BETWEEN CLASSROOMS AND OUT-OF-CLASS EXPERIENCES BE TRANSCENDED?
The conditions that foster
student learning outside the classroom cannot be created by any one individual.
However, an institution can increase the likelihood that students will
experience college as a seamless web of learning across classroom and
out-of-class settings by linking programs and activities across the academic and
out-of-class dimensions of students' lives and removing obstacles to students'
pursuit of their academic and personal goals. For this to occur, faculty,
administrators, and others must challenge students and each other to view
learning as continuous and contagious in the biology lab, library, academic
advisors' office, residence hall lounge, place of employment, student union,
community service, and playing fields.
Astin, A.W. (1993). What Matters in
College: Four Critical Years Revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Chickering, A.W., and L. Reisser. (1993). Education and Identity. 2nd ed. San
Kuh, G. (1993). "In Their Own Words: What Students Learn Outside the
Classroom." American Educational Research Journal 30, 277-304.
Kuh, G., J. Schuh, E. Whitt and Associates. (1991). Involving Colleges:
Successful Approaches to Fostering Student Learning and Development Outside the
Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pascarella, E., and P. Terenzini. (1991). How College Affects Students:
Findings and Insights From Twenty Years of Research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
This ERIC digest is based on a full-length report in the ASHE-ERIC Higher
Education Report series 94-8, Student Learning Outside the Classroom:
Transcending Artificial Boundaries by George D. Kuh, Katie Branch Douglas, Jon
P. Lund, and Jackie Ramin-Gyurnek.