Understanding the Role of Social Interactions in the Development of an Extracurricular University Volunteer Activity in a Developing Country

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jun 19;17(12):4422. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17124422.


The relevance of participating in structured extracurricular activities (ECA from here onwords) in higher education is increasing. Involvement in these activities helps students develop personal and social skills that positively affect academic and professional training, well-being, and the development of attitudes toward community involvement. This study analyzes the role of social interactions in the perceived benefits of students, who have participated in an ECA in a developing country. Moreover, this research aspires to explore whether students perceive that these interactions positively impact academic training, professional development, and adjustment to the university context, psychological well-being, and development of community involvement attitudes. As a result, 46 in-depth interviews were conducted with 23 students who participated in the experience. 23 in-depth interviews were conducted before the experience and another 23 after it. Data analysis was carried out using the IRaMuTeQ software to conduct a descending hierarchical classification (DHC). This study highlights the value of social interactions in an ECA to increase the motivation of students to improve academic and professional performance, to build shared knowledge with others, and to develop personal and social skills that contribute to the integral development of participants. ECAs help students reflect on their actions and privileges and develop positive attitudes toward themselves and others. This fact is linked to the achievement of high levels of well-being that allow the enhancement of the students' self-esteem. Finally, this experience has allowed volunteers to become aware of other sociocultural realities and to reflect on the possible ways of contributing to the development of a more sustainable society.

Keywords: academic performance; adaptation to university life; attitude toward social transformation; extracurricular activities; professional development; social interactions; volunteering; well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Students* / psychology
  • Universities
  • Volunteers*