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By Paul Bradley  /  
2014 September 18 - 03:42 am

Report Urges Redesign of Student Experience

CCCSE Says Colleges Should Create Pathways for Students

At Miami Dade College, educators are trying to take the guesswork out of academic planning so students don’t waste time and money on unneeded coursework. The college is developing degree pathways with highly structured course sequences in the college’s most popular academic programs.

At the City College of New York, creation of the Accelerated Studies in Associate Programs (ASAP) has led to consistently higher graduation rates by combining multiple high-impact educational practices into a highly structured student experience.

The Alamo Colleges in Texas have created the Alamo Institutes, where students will be grouped into one of six institutes, each providing embedded advisors, contextualized courses and stackable credentials.

Each of these colleges is taking aggressive steps to improve student outcomes by embedding promising educational practices into the student experience.  The schools and their efforts are cited in a new report released by the Center for Community College Student Engagement.

Titled “A Matter of Degrees: Practices to Pathways,” the report is the third in a series identifying and promoting high-impact educational practices. The new report urges colleges to move beyond small-scale interventions and toward larger-scale redesign of the student experience. It was funded by the Lumina Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The report describes relationships between student outcomes and student participation in high-impact educational practices, such as mandatory orientation, student success courses and academic goal-setting and planning.

The report says community college students would greatly benefit from have less choice and more structure in plotting their academic journey. Colleges can do that by creating specific academic pathways for all students, based on their needs and interests, the report says.

“By their nature, pathways reduce the number of choices students have to make, particularly when they first enter college,” the report says. “Today’s community college students must choose from dozens of majors and hundreds of course options. Having this many choices is not serving them well. Indeed, for most students it is interfering with having a coherent—and complete—college experience.”

Said Kay McClenney, who retired as CCSSE’s director earlier this year and now has the title of director emeritus: “Attending college should not be a series of disconnected classes and experiences, but instead it should be a complete — and completed — educational journey.”

The new report documents positive relationships between high-impact practices and outcomes critical to student success. For example, developmental students who reported that instructors clearly explained a class attendance policy were three times more likely to complete a development math course. Non-developmental students who registered for all courses before classes began were four times more likely to persist fall-to-spring and 11 times more likely to persist fall-to-fall.

The report said that students are more successful when high-impact practices are intentionally integrated into coherent educational pathways.

“However, these findings do not offer a checklist, and the goal shouldn’t be to have one of each practices,” said center Director Evelyn Waiwaiole. “Instead, the goal should be to improve student engagement and success by intentionally building multiple high-impact practices into every student’s educational experience.”

The full report can be downloaded http://www.ccssee.org/Matter_of_Degrees_3.pdf.


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