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Implementation Guides


Freshman Orientation | First Year Trip | Second Year Exchange | Small Group Meeting | All Bonner Meeting | Supplementary Resources


The Co-Curricular Area is in many ways the backbone of the Bonner Program, alongside with service. It is the area where Bonner Program staff may have the most power and immediate impact to shape the intentional learning experiences of students in the program. Through Co-Curricular structures such as Orientation, Retreats, Class Meetings, All Bonner Meetings, structured reflection, and enrichment sessions, the program takes on an identity and purpose for students. In addition, many programs introduce their own innovative approaches to supporting student development, like the Bonner Buddies (Pfeiffer), intensive reflection sessions (Emory & Henry and University of Richmond) and trips in each year (West Virginia Wesleyan). In essence, the Co-Curricular programming promotes students’ participation in activities that supplements developmental goals through issue-oriented and educational programs and skill-building opportunities. In these settings, the student can learn a wide range of professional, leadership, and life skills.
The Student Developmental Model is a foundation for the structure of the Co-Curricular area. The 5 E’s (expectation, explore, experience, example, and expertise) represent the notion of a continued path of development for students, reinforced by complementary service, co-curricular, and curricular experience. The Common Commitments (Civic Engagement, Community Building, International Perspective, Diversity, Spiritual Exploration, and Social Justice) represent the core areas of value and knowledge exploration that underlie the Bonner Programs. On top of this, there are several more concrete areas of skill and knowledge development we strive to cover through the Bonner Programs. These include the baseline areas below, which may be applied by campuses in different ways, complemented by their own additional skill and knowledge areas of focus:
  • Freshmen Year (Explore): setting clear expectations around student behavior and performance, setting goals & objectives, time management, community knowledge, and personal exploration.
  • Sophomore Year (Experience): project planning, multiculturalism and diversity awareness, group dynamics/conflict resolution, and critical thinking
  • Junior Year (Example): project coordination, resource development, leading reflection and inquiry, and articulating personal and civic values (understanding of engaged citizenship)
  • Senior Year (Excellence/Expertise): networking, public speaking, evaluation, management, and career planning


Bonner Scholar Programs have the opportunity to map these skills into a four-year developmental plan, while Bonner Leader Programs map these skills into a two-year plan, at minimum (and increasingly four-year also). When doing so, campus programs can take advantage of their own campus-based, local, regional, national and international networks.
In addition, experience has shown us that the many elements that make up the Co-Curricular Area can be vital ways to build identity and unity, support student full participation and retention, and deepen a student’s motivation. The purpose of this Resource Document is to better describe what makes these Co-Curricular elements effective and excellent. It can be used by Bonner Staff, student leaders, and others on campus to ensure that the planning and implementation of your Co-Curricular programming supports positive outcomes for students.

Best Practices covered at this time:


Back to Implementation Guides Index.


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