Tactics That Engage Community-College Students Get Few Takers, Study Finds

"Most community colleges have begun using a suite of expert-approved strategies to get more students to graduation. But those programs are often just window dressing, as relatively few students participate in them.  Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/10/17/community-college-completion-strategies-lack-scale-report-finds#ixzz2hzE3Mnqe  at Inside Higher Ed

That’s the central finding of a new report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement. And Kay McClenney, the center’s director, places blame for the shallow adoption of “high impact” completion practices squarely on colleges and their leaders, rather than on students.  “Requiring students to take part in activities likely to enhance their success is a step community colleges can readily take,” McClenney said in a written statement. “They just need to decide to do it.”  The study draws from three national surveys that seek to measure student engagement at community colleges that collectively account for 80 percent of the sector’s enrollment. One is the center’s flagship survey -- the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE)....The 13 strategies include the use of academic goal-setting, student orientation, tutoring, accelerated remedial education tracks and student success courses (see box for full list). While experts and faculty members might not agree on whether all of the practices work well, there is an emerging body of evidence that they help boost completion rates.

For example, 84 percent of two-year colleges offer student success courses, which are designed to help new students navigate college and get off to a good start. The courses are particularly helpful to large numbers of lower-income, first-generation college students who attend community college, and who rarely get the support of family members who know the skinny on how college works.  Yet only 20 percent of surveyed students took a success courses during their first term, according to the report.  The other 12 practices showed similar gaps between being offered and being used. Take tutoring, which has obvious benefits to struggling students. Fully 99 percent of the surveyed colleges offer some form of tutoring, but the report found that only 27 percent of students had taken advantage of it during the current academic year."

Asking students to volunteer for service will not work.  They don[t want to face stigma for doing so, they don[t have time for activities that conflict with their two or three part time jobs they have to pay for tuition, and for all the others commitments in their life.  The solution is Universal Design for Learning where essential services and support are built directly into classes and required for all students.