Extracurriculum? Cocurriculum? Role of Student Affairs?

I would really like your thinking on an article I’m writing for the NASPA Journal of College and Character, edited by Jon Dalton and Pam Crosby.  My working title is really long and describes what I want to write about: “Connecting and Collaborating with Students on Self-regulating Behavioral That Promote Academic Success and Further the Intellectual, Civic, and Moral Purposes of Higher Education.”

When I was asked to write the article, the editors used the term “extracurriculum.” When I asked a colleague for thoughts on the subject, in the response the term “cocurriculum” was used and the programs and activities described sounded as if they would complement and support the academic curriculum. 

If the term “extracurriculum” was purposely used, is there a role for student affairs in the extracurriculum to promote academic success and further the development of these qualities of citizenship? Or is the extracurriculum what students do on their own without input from student affairs?

Do you have any examples of student affairs promoting the moral purposes of higher education? Is this something that student affairs dare attempt in a public institution? 

I hear that the work of student affairs is more purposeful than ever before. To what purposes do we in student affairs aspire in contemporary higher education? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2 responses to “Extracurriculum? Cocurriculum? Role of Student Affairs?

  1. Hi Gwen, your post gave me many things to think about, so here are my somewhat random responses:
    *I’m not sure the programs/services Student Affairs provide are structured sufficiently to warrant being called a curriculum. It seems to me that what we provide, when done well, are educational opportunities. In that way, we are like our academic colleagues, we provide opportunities for learning, set expectations, etc., but students have to choose to engage in the process and be open to learning. Why not call what we do education and not worry about whether it’s ‘extra’ or ‘co’. It’s one part of the whole collegiate experience.
    *I’m intrigued by the question of whether we dare attempt promoting a moral purpose in higher education. I guess it depends on the way use the term. I think it is important that we pay attention to and talk about values, ethics and purpose in our work no matter the kind of institution. Of course, there are different boundaries in different kinds of schools.
    *I wonder if some of our challenges in the conversation about education today are due to shying away from talking about the ideas of the public good and citizenship as a shared responsibility.

    Good luck with this. I look forward to reading the finished article and any blog posts along the way.

    I hope all is well with you,


  2. Hey Gage! You are wonderful to throw me a life line here. You raise some excellent questions and you give me a lot of food for thought. I’ve been working on the piece all day and I had not thought about not using the term “curriculum.” That really is something to ponder. The issue about attempting to promote moral values seems to fall within our obligations around modeling and fostering ethical behavior. We have to know when we’re influencing values and when we are providing ways for students to reflect on their values, I believe. The trick is, as you say, to know the boundaries. A couple of people sent me emails with their ideas about what we do to promote the civic purposes of education, but it seems that we’re pretty much siloed in our efforts. NASPA is working with the nationl launch on the civic learning and democratic engagement initiative, and I believe a year from now the student affairs work in this arena will be more visible. Thanks so much for being in touch. I’m doing just great! Just need to find more time to just sit and think.

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