The following resources provide more information on the connection between work and academics.

Civic Learning While Earning? The Role of Student Employment in Cultivating Civic Commitments and Skills

More American college students spend their time working in paid employment than in the past. Prior scholarship has focused on the relationship between work and conventional outcomes (e.g., grades, persistence, and engagement), but little is known about the impact of students’ work on civic engagement. As campuses are called to prepare students for both careers and civic life, this analysis contributes evidence regarding a potentially tenuous relationship between students’ employment and their subsequent willingness and ability to connect to their larger community. Findings reveal that on-campus jobs increase the odds that students develop civic commitments, while off-campus jobs do not.

Barnhardt, C. L., Trolian, T., An, B., Rossmann, P. D., & Morgan, D. L. (2019). Civic learning while earning? The role of student employment in cultivating civic commitments and skills. The Review of Higher Education42(2), 707-737.


Employing Student Success: A Comprehensive Examination of On-Campus Student Employment

To better understand how institutions actualize the benefits of on-campus employment, NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education conducted a landscape analysis that examined the current condition of on-campus employment opportunities and identified promising practices and components of programs characteristic of a highly impactful practice.

Burnside, O., Wesley, A., Wesaw, A., & Parnell, A. (2019). Employing Student Success: A Comprehensive Examination of On-Campus Student Employment. NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.


Balancing Work and Academics in College: Why Do Students Working 10 to 19 Hours Per Week Excel?

Given that 74% of undergraduates work an average of 25.5 hours per week while going to school, we know surprisingly little about how off-campus employment affects undergraduates and to what extent its impact varies by the number of hours worked. Our survey of undergraduates at a small liberal arts college found that the academic performance of students who worked off-campus was comparable to nonworkers. Notably, the academic performance (greater hours studied and higher grades) of students who worked 10-19 hours per week was superior to all other students, working and nonworking. We suggest that the increase in performance is due to an optimal work-college balance that establishes structure and discipline not achieved by working too few or too many hours. Yet students must balance the benefits of organization and efficiency with increased stress and reduced time for socializing (noted among students working 10+ hours per week off-campus).

Dundes, L. & Marx, J. (2007). Balancing work and academics in college: Why do students working 10 to 19 hours per week excel? Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 8(1), 107-120.


Student Employment as a Model for Experiential Learning

Evidence suggests experiential learning promotes the development of a range of transferrable skills including communication, responsibility, and social skills. However, many students are unable to participate in internships or other common forms of experiential education because they need to work for pay. University employment has been positively associated with academic success, but less is known about its potential to develop transferrable skills. This evaluation assessed the outcomes and experiences of former student workers employed by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Outreach project in a paid, university position.

Fede, J. H., Gorman, K. S., & Cimini, M. E. (2018). Student employment as a model for experiential learning. Journal of Experiential Education41(1), 107-124.


Part-Time Work and Full-Time Higher Education

This paper reports the results of a random sample survey of term-time employment amongst full-time undergraduates in four institutions. There is a belief that the incidence of employment is increasing, with detrimental effects for academic performance, but the supporting evidence is typically drawn from studies of specific institutions and/or specific groups of students. This paper offers a more widely-based estimate of the incidence of employment, analyses who works and why, and estimates the contribution of employment to student income. The paper suggests that the current focus on earnings and hours is limiting and that widely drawn 'employment profiles' need to be identified and linked to academic constraints in order to identify the range of consequences of student employment.

Ford, J., Bosworth, D., & Wilson, R. (1995). Part-time work and full-time higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 20(2), 187-202.


The Influence of Work on College Student Development

Randomly selected students at a southeastern, urban university were surveyed by telephone about their involvement in college and their employment experiences. Results indicated that students who worked 30 or more hours per week were less involved with campus activities than students who were not employed or were employed fewer than 30 hours. Students with larger work schedules also stated that they believed their work schedule negatively impacted their academic progress. Students who did not work indicated that they had more frequent interactions with faculty and were more likely to establish an important relationship with faculty. These relationships were evaluated as important in helping the student remain at this college.

Furr, S.R. & Elling, T.W. (2000). The influence of work on college student development. NASPA Journal, 37(2), 454-470.


Expanding the Student Employment Literature: Investigating the Practice of Reflection in On-Campus Student Employment

Student employment programs that focus students on making connections between their academics and work may be critical in bolstering students’ learning and personal development, especially as the number of students who are employed increases. Our findings suggest that student employment could enhance student learning more broadly by fostering reflection on how academic experiences and employment experiences connect.

Halper, L. R., Craft, C. A., & Shi, Y. (2020). Expanding the student employment literature: Investigating the practice of reflection in on-campus student employment. Journal of College Student Development61(4), 516-521.


Promoting Learning, Career Readiness, and Leadership in Student Employment

Creating a learning-centric environment for student employees enables work to contribute to student success, leadership development, and career readiness. Lessons from the IOWA GROW® and Illinois Leadership® Center programs are featured.

Hansen, S. L., & Hoag, B. A. (2018). Promoting learning, career readiness, and leadership in student employment. New Directions for Student Leadership2018(157), 85-99.


Student Workers Can Learn More on the Job

Suggestions for promoting learning in colleges' student employment programs are provided. The suggestions are to increase chances for peer collaboration and evaluation; facilitate informal interactions between students, faculty members, and administrators; encourage curriculum and cocurriculum congruence; and pair faculty and staff members in research teams focused on learning.

Lewis, J. (2008) Student workers can learn more on the job. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 54(41), A56.


Does Work Inhibit Cognitive Development During College?

A longitudinal study of 23 colleges and universities sought to estimate the impacts of on- and off-campus work on standardized measures of student cognitive development across three years. Findings suggest that, for the most part, work that does not exceed 15 or 20 hours a week does not seriously affect student cognitive development.

Pascarella, E., Edison, M., Nora, A., Hagedorn, L., & Terenzini, P. (1998). Does work inhibit cognitive development during college? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 20(2), 75-93.


Enhancing Student Learning through College Employment

As one of the first edited volumes dedicated to student employment, this book provides scholar-practitioners with pertinent information about many aspects of working during college. It is intended for those working in higher education who have responsibility for student employees. Given the breadth and depth of the chapters included in this publication, that audience may range from vice presidents and deans to students in supervisory roles. This book has utility for academic colleges and departments, student affairs divisions, auxiliary services, foundations, libraries, and facilities- essentially, all areas of the academy that employ student workers.

Perozzi, B. (Ed.). (2009). Enhancing student learning through college employment. Bloomington, IN: Association of College Unions International.


A Review of the Effects of Student Employment on Academic Achievement

Examines research on student employment and its effects on the achievement of students. After defining the variables that affect academic achievement, current literature in these areas is reviewed and discussed. Limitations in compiling these data are presented, and implications for practice for union and activities professions are offered.

Perozzi, B., Rainey, A., & Wahlquist, Z. (2003). A review of the effects of student employment on academic achievement. The Bulletin of the Association of College Unions International, 71(5), 15-20.


First-Year Students' Employment, Engagement, and Academic Achievement: Untangling the Relationship between Work and Grades

This study examined the relationships among first-year students' employment, engagement, and academic achievement using data from the 2004 National Survey of Student Engagement. A statistically significant negative relationship was found between working more than 20 hours per week and grades, even after controlling for students' characteristics and levels of engagement. An examination of the indirect relationships between work and grades revealed that working 20 hours or less on campus was significantly and positively related to grades, acting through student engagement.

Pike, G., Kuh, G., & Massa-McKinley, R. (2008). First-year students' employment, engagement, and academic achievement: Untangling the relationship between work and grades. NASPA Journal, 45(4), 560-582.


Student Employment and Higher Education: Empiricism and Contradiction

College student employment has been increasing steadily for at least four decades. At present, approximately 80% of all college students are employed while completing their undergraduate education. Even among students under the age of 24 at 4-year colleges, more than 50% are employed during the school year. Although some general trends are suggested by empirical research completed to date, studies that evaluate student employment and higher education are at times inconsistent and even contradictory. Despite the high prevalence of student employment, no theoretical models have been developed to explain the relationship between employment and student outcomes. This article briefly reviews the student employment–higher education empirical literature. Possible reasons for inconsistencies are suggested, including challenges posed by methodological issues and the absence of theoretical conceptualization. Some concluding suggestions are offered for addressing these empirical challenges.

Riggert, S.C., Boyle, M., Petrosko, J.M., Ash, D., & Rude-Parkins, C. (2006). Student employment and higher education: Empiricism and contradiction. Review of Educational Research, 76(1), 63-92.


More Than a Paycheck: Applied Learning Within a Student Employment Context

This chapter describes how student employment can be an applied learning experience by developing soft skills for future employment, working with other students from diverse backgrounds, and connecting work to academics.

Rossmann, P. (2019). More than a paycheck: Applied learning within a student employment context. New Directions for Higher Education2019(188), 43-50.


Working with Others: Student Employment and Interactions with Diversity in College

This study examines whether students’ employment experiences during college are associated with increased interactions with diverse peers, and whether these relationships differ for students from differing racial/
ethnic backgrounds. Results suggest that working on-campus during
college was positively associated with increased interactions with
diverse peers for both the full student sample and for several racial/
ethnic subsamples. Additionally, working off-campus was positively
associated with increased interactions with diverse peers for one racial/
ethnic subsample.

Rossmann, P. D., & Trolian, T. L. (2020). Working with others: Student employment and interactions with diversity in college. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice57(2), 182-196.


Connecting Students’ College Employment Experiences and Attitudes About Diversity

This study used data from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education to consider whether college student employment was associated with changes in two measures of students’ diversity attitudes: openness to diversity and challenge and universal-diverse orientation. Additionally, this study considered whether interactions with diverse peers mediated this relationship. On-campus employment was positively associated with gains in openness to diversity and challenge and universal-diverse orientation, whereas off-campus employment was not associated with gains in either measure. Additionally, the relationship between on-campus employment and attitudes toward diversity appeared to be mediated by meaningful interactions with diverse peers.

Trolian, T. L., & Rossmann, P. D. (2022). Connecting Students' College Employment Experiences and Attitudes About Diversity. Journal of College Student Development63(1), 16-33.


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