Student Success Aaron Thompson, PhD
Student Diversity in America’s Community Colleges • There are 13 million students currently enrolled in approximately 1,150 community colleges in the United States; they account for almost half of all first-year college students in America today. • More than 630,000 community college students will earn an associate degree this year, and more than 425,000 will earn a certificate. • Most first-year community college students are employed either part or full time and attend college part time. • The average age of the American community college student is 28. • Almost 42 percent of all community college students are the first in their family to attend college. • More than 37 percent of community college students are members of minority racial or ethnic groups. • Close to 6 percent of international students attend America’s community colleges Source: American Association of Community Colleges (2012).
As educators we need to inform students of the importance of the benefits of a: • college experience • college degree or certificate • learning commitment
Why College Is Worth It • Career Benefits • Economic Advantages • Advanced Intellectual Skills • Better Physical Health • Social Benefits • Emotional Benefits • Effective Citizenship • Higher Quality of Life for Their Children
Career Benefits • Security and stability—lower rates of unemployment • Versatility and mobility—more flexibility to move out of a position and into other positions • Advancement—more opportunity to move up to higher professional positions • Interest—more likely to find their work stimulating and challenging • Autonomy—greater independence and opportunity to be their own boss • Satisfaction—more enjoyment of their work and the feel that it allows them to use their special talents • Prestige—higher-status positions (i.e., careers that more socially desirable and respected)
Economic Advantages • Make better consumer choices and decisions • Make wiser long-term investments • Receive greater pension benefits • Earn higher income
Advanced Intellectual Skills • Greater knowledge • More effective problem-solving skills • Better ability to deal with complex and ambiguous (uncertain) problems • Greater openness to new ideas • More advanced levels of moral reasoning • Clearer sense of self-identity and greater awareness and knowledge of personal talents, interests, values, and needs • Greater likelihood to continue learning throughout life
Better Physical Health • Better health insurance—more comprehensive coverage and greater likelihood of being covered • Better dietary habits • More regular exercise • Lower rates of obesity • Longer and healthier life
Social Benefits • Higher social self-confidence • Better understanding and more effective communication with others • Greater popularity • More effective leadership skills • Greater marital satisfaction
Emotional Benefits • Lower levels of anxiety • Higher levels of self-esteem • Greater sense of self-efficacy and belief that they have more influence and control over their life • Higher levels of psychological well-being • Higher levels of personal happiness
Effective Citizenship • Greater interest in national issues, both social and political • Greater knowledge of current affairs • Higher voting participation rates • Higher rates of participation in civic affairs and community service
Higher Quality of Life for Their Children • Less likelihood of smoking during pregnancy • Better health care for their children • More time spent with their children • More likely to involve their children in educational activities that stimulate their mental development • More likely to save money for their children to go to college • More likely that their children will graduate from college • More likely that their children will attain high-status and higher-paying careers
Why Do Students Leave? • Academic Reasons • Personal Reasons • Financial Reasons
Academic Reasons • Not challenged academically • Not academically prepared (underprepared students graduate about half the rate a prepared student does in 6 years) • Lack of academic focus • Desired major unavailable
Personal Reasons • Institution isn’t a good personal fit • Medical issues (personal, parent, spouse, child) • Relationship issues (parents, significant other) • Poor social adjustment (lacking friends) • No sense of belonging • Lack of clear goals and purpose of college • Lack of discipline • Homesick
Financial Reasons • Unrealized expectations (thought they were getting something else, wasn’t worth the cost) • Had to go to work for family or other reasons (especially true for adult learners) • Insufficient financial aid (ran out of money)
Principles of College Success • Research on human learning and student development indicates four powerful principles of college success: • Active Involvement • Use of Campus Resources • Interpersonal Interaction and Collaboration • Personal Reflection and Self-Awareness (Astin, 1993; Kuh, 2000; Light, 2001; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005; Tinto, 1993). Thriving in College & Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development (Cuseo, Thompson, & Fecas, 2010)
Active Involvement • Research indicates active involvement may be the most powerful principle of human learning and college success. The principle of active involvement includes the following pair of processes: • The amount of personal time a student devotes to learning during the college experience • The degree of personal effort or energy (mental and physical) students put into the learning process Thriving in College & Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development (Cuseo, Thompson, & Fecas, 2010)
Student Success and Interpersonal Interaction • Four particular forms of interpersonal interaction have been found to be strongly associated with student learning and motivation in college: • Student-Faculty Interaction • Student-Advisor Interaction • Student-Mentor Interaction • Student-Student Interaction Thriving in College & Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development (Cuseo, Thompson, & Fecas, 2010)
Student-Faculty Interaction • Studies repeatedly show that college success is influenced heavily by the quality and quantity of student-faculty interaction outside the classroom. Such contact is positively associated with the following positive outcomes for college students: • Improved academic performance • Increased critical thinking skills • Greater satisfaction with the college experience • Increased likelihood of completing a college degree • Stronger desire to seek education beyond college (Astin, 1993; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005). Thriving in College & Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development (Cuseo, Thompson, & Fecas, 2010)
Student-Faculty Interaction • Further, research studies demonstrate that students’ success is heavily influenced by the quality and quantity of their interaction with faculty members outside of the classroom. More specifically, student-faculty contact outside of class is positively associated with the following student developments: • Improved academic performance • Increased critical thinking skills • Greater satisfaction with the educational experience • Stronger desire to further education beyond high school • Involvement in own academic and personal success • How students interpret messages received from family, school, and community • Making choices that are in the best interest of their success
Student-Student Interaction • Studies of college students repeatedly point to the power of the peer group as a source of social and academic support (Pascarella, 2005). • Peer interaction is especially important during the first term of college. At this stage of the college experience, new students have a strong need for belongingness and social acceptance.
Student-Student Interaction • A study conducted by Light (2001) found that students who formed or participated in small groups was a strong determinant in their college success. • Students who participated in study groups once weekly were more engaged, showed increased class preparation, and learned significantly more than students who worked alone.
Interaction with an Advisor • Can be an effective referral agent who can direct students to, and connect students with, campus support services that best meet their needs • An individual students should meet with more regularly than course instructors
Interaction with a Mentor • Research in higher education demonstrates that a mentor can make first-year students feel significant and enable them to stay on track until they complete their college degree (Campbell & Campbell, 1997; Knox, 2008).
Self-Reflection • Important step in achieving success in college • Involves self-assessment, self-monitoring, reflecting on feedback, and reflecting on the future Thriving in College & Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development (Cuseo, Thompson, & Fecas, 2010)
Self-Assessment • Process of evaluating personal characteristics, traits, habits, and their relative strengths and weaknesses • Include personal interests, personal values, personal abilities or aptitudes, learning habits, learning styles, personality traits, and academic self-concept (personal beliefs about what kind of student he/she is are and how they perceive him/herself as a learner) Thriving in College & Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development (Cuseo, Thompson, & Fecas, 2010)
Self-Monitoring • Maintaining an awareness of how effectively you are learning, if you are learning what you are attempting to learn, and what you are attempting to learn • Good habits mean periodically having students ask themselves the following questions: Thriving in College & Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development (Cuseo, Thompson, & Fecas, 2010)
The Future of America Although minorities now make up approximately 1/3 of the population, they are expected to be the majority by 2042 and projected to be 54% of the population by 2050. By 2023, minorities will comprise more than half of all children.
The Future of America The population of non-Hispanic whites is expected to be only slightly larger by 2050 than in 2008. This group is projected to lose population in the 2030s and 2040s and comprise 46% of the population by 2050, down from 66% in 2008.
The Future of America In contrast, the Hispanic population is expected to triple from 46.7 million to 132.8 million during the 2008-2050 time period. The black population is expected to increase from 14% in 2008 to 15% in 2050. The Asian population is expected to increase from 5.1% in 2008 to 9.2% in 2050.
Community Colleges Will be the Access and Success Venues for Many of These Students
Diversity Strengthens Development of Learning & Thinking Skills • Research on first-year college students shows that students who experience the highest level of exposure to different dimensions of diversity (e.g. interactions and friendships with peers of different races, or participating in multicultural courses and events on campus) report the greatest gains in: • thinking complexity – the ability to think about all parts and all sides of an issue (Gurin, 1999), • reflective thinking – the ability to think deeply (Kitchener et al., 2000), and • critical thinking – the ability to think logically (Pascarella et al., 2001).
Diversity Increases the Power of a Liberal Arts Education • There is no way to gain a global perspective without understanding human diversity. • Another perspective that should be developed as part of a liberal arts education is a national perspective, which involves understanding and appreciating your own nation. • Because of the increasing diversity of the U.S., “multicultural competence” – the ability to understand cultural differences and to interact effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds – has become an important liberal art skill that is critical for success in today's’ world (Pope et. al., 2005).
Diversity Promotes Creative Thinking • Experiencing diversity can enhance your ability to think creatively. • Diversity experiences supply us with different thinking styles that can help us to be aware of our own cultural framework. • These experiences also help us to be aware of our perceptual “blind spots” and avoid the dangers of group think – the tendency for tight, like-minded groups of people to think so much alike that they overlook the flaws in their own thinking – which can lead to poor choices and faulty decisions (Janis, 1982).