Washington: Not only academics but a person's analytical skills are of great importance to an employer. A new study highlights the link between an undergraduate's critical thinking skills with their academic, extra-curricular skills while studying at University.
The study published in the journal "Educational Studies" was reviewed more than 3300 Bachelor's students. The researchers tested the hypothesis that academic engagement may not be the only thing that undergraduates need and that universities should not underestimate the value of other aspects of campus life.
When the findings were analysed, this hypothesis was confirmed. Researchers found that alongside studies and research, extracurricular involvement - such as student organisations and clubs, competitions, quests, and other activities, as well as making and maintaining contacts with professional communities is essential to the development of analytical skills. Indeed, the more students are engaged in extracurricular activities, the better their critical thinking skills appear to be, contributing to academic and other achievements.
Self-assessment was used to measure the change in critical thinking skills: students were asked to estimate their critical thinking skills at enrolment and at the time of the survey on a scale of six options from 'very low' to 'excellent'. The respondents were also asked about their studies, research, and participation in student organisations (No=0; Yes=1).
The study highlighted a slew of benefits of extra-curricular activities like higher self-esteem, a higher sense of belonging and satisfaction with student life, motivation, and better academic performance. Some other advantages which came out were better teamwork and responsibility, better communication strategies and leadership skills, accumulation of social capital through connections with fellow students and broader academic, professional and business communities.
And one of the biggest highlights was that student engagement has been found to influence their early career earnings. Students involved in research and extra-curricular activities were more likely to report an increase in critical thinking skills than uninvolved peers. Binary logistic regression was used to establish a link between studies, research, and extracurricular activity.
The authors stated that higher values in most types of engagement mean higher chances of success - in this case, higher levels of critical thinking skills. For example, involvement in political organisations and creative activities has a positive effect on academic performance, whereas participation in sports and religious involvement do not affect student achievement significantly.