Brock University (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN17 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 10436-10446
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.0978
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Demographic trends in North America forewarn of a decline in the typical university age population, with an estimated decline of 10% in Canada over the next several years, rebounding only by 2030 (AUCC, 2011). Along with stagnant or declining government support, this poses significant budgetary challenges for many universities and colleges.

As a result, student retention and institutional affinity have become of greater concern and research into the impact of student engagement and its effects on student satisfaction and retention, along with institutional affinity, has experienced a renewed focus (Finn and Zimmer, 2012; Lawson and Lawson, 2013). Student engagement, however, encompasses a wide variety of academic and non-academic activities.
One somewhat limited subset of the literature concerns the impact of engagement in discipline based student organizations and clubs.

Although the amount of involvement can have a varied effect on student’s performance (Avi and Fobert, 2014) engagement in student clubs can have a positive impact on academic performance and satisfaction (Cheong and Ong, 2016), enhance related academic learning (Pittaway et al., 2015), and strengthen professional commitment (Zauwiyah et al., 2012). In addition, an increased sense of belongingness can be particularly important for international students and the fostering of cross-cultural interaction (Glass and Westmont, 2014).

Personality traits, socio-economic and ethnic factors have also been found to play a role in student club engagement (Ferrari et al., 2009; Toma, 2015) along with a variety of personal learning goals (Culic et al., 2016). In addition, a student’s engagement typology (Coates, 2007; Lizzo and Wilson, 2009) and the institutional typology (Pike and Kuh, 2005) would appear to impact the extent of a student’s club/socialization activities (Flynn, 2014).

The topic of alumni engagement and giving has received a fair amount of attention with a particular focus on the factors that predict philanthropic contributions. In addition to cultural dimensions, important differences have been noted in terms of program of study (Holmes, 2009). Although a renewed interest in the relationship of student engagement and subsequent alumni giving (Volin, 2016; Rao and Erwin, 2015; Freeland et al., 2015 among others) is noted, the impact of prior student club involvement on institutional affinity and alumni engagement has, however, received little specific focus.

This paper outlines the experience of the Goodman School of Business (GSB) at Brock University, Canada in promoting engagement and affinity through student clubs. In 2010 the GSB established a staff position with the goal of developing and implementing a strategic plan regarding student engagement. In collaboration with the school’s manager of marketing, communications and alumni, the initiative fostered a noted increase in school engagement, affinity and alumni engagement. The paper outlines the processes and procedures that fostered growth in student and alumni engagement over a six year period, measured against suggested working principles for the advancement of engagement (Zepke and Leach, 2010; Coates, 2010; Jankowska and Atlay, 2008; Krause, 2005). Finally several questions for future research are posed.
Student clubs, student engagement, affinity, alumni.