A Review of Best Practices in Co-Curricular

Tracking Involvement:
A Review of Best Practices in
Co-Curricular Transcripts
Lisa Endersby, M.Ed.
Carolyn Hoessler, M.A.
CASEA 2010
Montreal, Quebec
Who Are We?
• Lisa Endersby
– Over 5 years of experience in the design, delivery and
evaluation of co-curricular programming, with a focus
on leadership development and student transition, and
over 7 years of co-curricular involvement at various
• Carolyn Hoessler
– With a dual role as both an educational developer and
a Ph.D. student, this year marks the 4th year working
with teaching assistants and graduate students, and the
8th year of co-curricular involvement
What is the Co-Curricular Transcript?
Myths – What Is This Thing?
Challenges On Route
Who’s Using It? Some Examples
Best Practices: Creating an Effective CoCurricular Transcript
• Next Steps
What is the Co-Curricular
“The student development transcript holds
promise for fulfilling a variety of functions
and roles that could have value for both
institutions and the individual student, …
Depending on its form, the transcript could
serve as a record of attainments and
competencies to be used for job or future
schooling applications, much like a painter or
photographer uses a portfolio”
(Brown & Citrin, 1999, p.505-506)
• Students involved in co-curricular activities demonstrate
additional growth in interpersonal skills, leadership
abilities and professional development (Astin, 1993)
• Validating students’ co-curricular involvement through
the use of a document began in the 1970s when Robert
Brown created the ‘Student Development Transcript’ at
the University of Nebraska
• The National Association of Campus Activities (NACA)
(1986) created a Co-Curricular Transcript Library
detailing formats and programs that other institutions
could use as guidelines
• NACA (1992) also published a resource guide for
institutions looking to develop their own transcript
What are some of the beliefs about cocurricular transcript?
What comes to mind when you think about
trying to implement one?
In our own discussions, we have encountered
what we deem as myths surrounding the cocurricular transcript:
(1) What isn't already recorded could not be important
(2) Universities couldn't/shouldn't measure what
occurs outside the classroom
(3) There's no way to create a co-curricular record that
is concise and meaningful
Challenges On Route
When trying to implement a co-curricular
transcript, questions are raised as to:
(1)Why bother?
(2)Who’s responsible?
(3)What would it look like?
Challenges On Route
We’ve used these questions to frame our search
for existing approaches that have demonstrated
or reported applicability. As part of our search
we sought to consider the use, the process of
tracking and our diverse student populations to
define best practices in:
Utility  Tracking  Context
Why Bother?
• Utility - What is the
• Tracking - What information would be
important to track?
• Context – How does institutional context
affect tracking co-curricular involvement?
How do we track involvement for nontraditional student populations?
Why Bother? – Utility
• “…neither credits nor grades accurately represent all of what
students learn during college” (Kuh, 1991,p.7)
• An institution’s culture of assessment includes the assessment
of co-curricular activities (Weiner, 2009), and the NSSE
includes questions related to students’ ‘outside the classroom’
involvement (http://nsse.iub.edu/redirect.cfm)
• (Ragan, 2001) noted that co-curricular transcripts are being
developed to respond to the needs of involved students and to
provide additional motivation to students not yet involved
• Many institutions recognize the need to provide official
documentation of co-curricular learning (Cooper, Healy &
Simpson, 1994) and to acknowledge co-curricular involvement
as part of the overall education of a well rounded student
Why Bother? – Tracking
• Mentkowski (2000) defines co-curricular
involvement as “learning experiences organized as
courses … it may include planned or ad hoc student
activities, student government … [and] civic
commitments …” (p.302)
• There are many facets of co-curricular involvement
that can be tracked, including skill development,
activities, positions held, honours and awards
• This information can provide tangible recognition of
a more intangible, complex developmental process
Why Bother? – Context
• A student’s desire to take on leadership roles is strongly
influenced by the atmosphere of the institution (Kuh, 1995)
• Fullan (2002) argues that “Learning in context occurs when
principals are members of a … study team for which they
examine real problems … in their own systems. Learning out of
context … is not the kind of applied learning that really makes
a difference” (p.19).
• More traditional undergraduate student populations rate
quality of co-curricular and student involvement higher than
their non traditional student peers (Broschard, 2005)
• Ragan (1991) noted that other co-curricular transcript
programs can discriminate against non-traditional student
populations, including commuter students, graduate students
adult learners and students from diverse backgrounds through
administrative practices or prevailing development and
leadership theories
Who’s Responsible?
• Utility - If a "verified" document is needed,
whose has relevant authority/knowledge to
verify it to be the most useful?
• Tracking - How would information be added?
How would the documents be verified?
• Context - How would different processes
support/hinder different students from
participating due to Power, expectations,
Who’s Responsible? – Utility
• Decentralized:
– “… successful assessment of student affairs learning outcomes
requires the understanding that units are experts in their
particular field; therefore, a decentralized model of assessment,
facilitated by a coordinator or director, is most appropriate in
student affairs.“ (Green, Jones & Aloi, 2008, p.133).
• Students
– Individual students are also given the responsibility of tracking
their own activities and development, as the transcript allows
students to become aware of the intended learning outcomes of
activities and the overall learning taking place. (Bresciani, 2005)
Who’s Responsible? – Tracking
• Administration and Staff:
– Activities are accepted for inclusion on the transcript via an application
process by the activity coordinator (e.g. department head, club president) to
the department or office housing transcript administration
– These learning outcomes and competencies are further defined by student
affairs or student life staff
– Activities and other transcript information can be verified by a staff member
working within a student life department, either as part of the co-curricular
transcript team or within their overall duties
• Students:
– Students are often responsible for identifying and reporting the activities they
are involved in.
• Advisors, supervisors or student leaders:
– Verifiers can include advisors and supervisors involved in the
organization or overseeing the activity.
– Student leaders should be responsible for informing campus
administrators of what skills students on campus need to learn
(Striffolino & Saunders, 1989)
Who’s Responsible?
- Context
• Administrative location, personnel, level of responsibility given
to students or individual organizations varies to fit with local
needs and structure.
• Generally related to issues of access to co-curricular
• BEAMS (Building Engagement and Attainment for Minority
Students) schools have demonstrated, in part, that emphasis
on co-curricular activities can result in increased student
engagement and success (Hazeur, 2008).
• There is also a noticeable gender difference in how
engagement affects student success (Ullah & Wilson, 2007).
What Would It Look Like?
• Utility - What presentation format(s) are useful for
students during and after? Is it more useful for it to be
"official" with stamps or verification?
• Tracking - Of the information tracked, how much and
what is presented in the document?
• Context - How would different presentations
support/hinder the goals/uses for different students due
to (e.g.) career plans, next location, access to
opportunities, need to demonstrate ability?
What Would It Look like? –
• Ragan (2001) offers three (3) potential formats for cocurricular transcripts:
– Student Portfolio
– Experiential Checklist
– Competency-Based Checklist
• Most transcripts are labelled with the university’s name and
crest/logo to identify it as a university document.
• Ragan’s (2001) survey of employers indicated strong interest
in reviewing potential hires’ co-curricular involvement.
• Participation in co-curricular activities benefits students’
retention rates and educational outcomes in college (Tan &
Pope, 2007).
What Would It Look like? –
Online tracking provides 24/7 access for students to check and review
their involvement.
Astin (1985) argued that “the acknowledgement of student
involvement as a major determinant of positive collegian outcomes
provides support for leadership involvement” (p.339).
The majority of co-curricular transcript models track student
engagement in loosely defined by the following categories:
• On Campus Involvement (e.g. clubs, sports, councils)
• Community Service
• ‘One Off’ Activities and Events (e.g. activities participated in
or attended but not part of a larger, ongoing commitment)
• Honours and Awards (including certificates and training)
In most cases, transcripts resemble experiential checklists, while
some also include competencies and/or associated learning outcomes
for each activity listed.
What Would It Look like? –
Co-curricular programs must also address the needs of different and
diverse student populations (McIntire, 1989).
A co-curricular transcript may be viewed as part of a larger ‘cocurricular programming’ framework within the institution, subject to
the same considerations of program development
Online access provides students who are currently not on campus
during business hours.
Online content can be provided in a format that is accessible and
meets universal instructional design guidelines.
Official print-based documents can be requested to meet any
requirements for physical copies by potential employers, graduate
and professional schools.
Example Sites
“Existing programs offer templates by which these ideals can be achieved.”
(Best practices related to interdisciplinary education, p. 90)
Example Site 1
Wilfred Laurier University
Co-Curricular Record (CCR)
“An institutionally recognized chronicle of student engagement and
student leadership involvement”
• Activity administrators must first apply to have their activity or
program included on the transcript by demonstrating that it provides
students with meaningful transformational leadership opportunities
• CCR ambassadors assist groups and individuals in applying to have
their activity included through an ‘application for recognition’ form
• Students include activities by identifying Levels of Achievement
generated as Learning Outcomes
• When a validator approves the inclusion of an activity, then the
activity and related learning outcomes can appear on the student's
printed CCR
Example Site 2
McMaster University
MacStAR (McMaster Student Activity Record)
“As partners in learning we provide our students with opportunities to
discover, learn and grow.To record these non-academic student
accomplishments MacStAR was developed to help students
document and showcase their many achievements outside the
classroom to potential employers, graduate and professional
• Students enter their activity or role with a campus department on an
online record housed within the Centre for Student Development
• A ‘verifier’ must authenticate the student’s participation in the
particular role or activity
• The student’s activities are included in official transcripts upon
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