More Degrees Must Also Mean More Learning, New CCCSE Report Asserts
A new report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement, The Heart of Student Success: Teaching, Learning, and College Completion, explores community college students’ goals for degree attainment, their achievement of these goals, and the types of learning experiences that are shown to make a difference in student success. Using data from three surveys the center conducted in 2010—the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), the Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (CCFSSE), and the Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE)—the report examines the classroom experiences that promote student engagement, investigates the percentages of students who encounter these experiences at their institutions, and describes contrasts in faculty perceptions of and student reports of engaged learning practices. The report especially focuses on practices it defines as “deep learning—broadly applicable thinking, reasoning, and judgment skills…that allow individuals to apply information, develop a coherent world view, and interact in more meaningful ways.” Results show that there is much room for improvement in the percentages of student who are exposed to deep learning practices on a regular basis in the classroom—only 45 percent of students reported, for example, that they “often” or “very often” learned something that changed their viewpoint about an issue or concept.
Student Goals and Perceptions
- About half (52 percent) of CCSSE respondents indicated that completing a certificate program is a goal for them, and 84 percent indicated that completing an associate degree is a goal.
- Three-quarters of CCSSE respondents would like to transfer to a four-year institution.
- While only 19 percent of CCSSE students reported that being academically unprepared would likely or very likely cause them to withdraw from college, 79 percent of faculty members (as measured by the CCFSSE) believe it is likely or very likely that academic unpreparedness would cause students to withdraw.
Deep Learning Activities
- Most CCSSE respondents had worked together with other students on assignments during class; only 12 percent reported never working with others. However, 40 percent of students reported that they never worked with other students outside of class on class assignments.
- When asked to indicate how much of their coursework emphasized certain activities, the most common response among CCSSE respondents was “analyzing the basic elements of an idea, experience, or theory” (67 percent said “quite a bit” or “very much”). However, the second most common activity cited was “memorizing facts, ideas, or methods…so you can repeat them in pretty much the same form” (65 percent).
- Forty-one percent of CCSSE respondents said they have not done, nor have plans to do, an internship, field experience, or clinical assignment. But 87 percent of faculty respondents say it is somewhat or very important for students to have these experiences in order to deepen their learning.
- Fewer than half of CCSSE respondents (43 percent) indicated that they “often” or “very often” included diverse perspectives from different races, religions, genders, etc. in class discussions or assignments.
Use and Value of Support Services
- More than one-third of CCSSE respondents (34 percent) report rarely or never using academic advising services, even though 64 percent said academic advising was very important.
- Equal numbers (51 percent) of students said career counseling was very important, and reported rarely or never using it.
- SENSE respondents valued student success courses highly, with 74 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing that the courses helped them learn about available support services, and 69 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing that the courses helped them develop skills to become a better student.
The entire report may be downloaded in PDF format. For more research on engaged and deep learning practices, see AAC&U’s latest LEAP report, Five High-Impact Practices: Research on Learning Outcomes, Completion, and Quality.
- More than half of beginning students (52 percent) reported that their family, friends, and other students were their main source of academic advising.
- Thirty-seven percent of full-time students reported spending fewer than five hours per week preparing for their classes.
- Two-thirds (66 percent) of faculty members reported that they never engaged their students in experiential learning. Only 2 percent reported that they never engaged in lecture.