The Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) has just released their 2007 report, which studies many aspects of engagement from orientation and advising to instructional techniques and use of classroom time. It recognizes five key lessons learned:
- “Be intentional” — For most community college students, engagement will not just happen.
- Engagement matters for all, but it matters more for certain groups of students who need extra attention.
- Embrace part-timers (students and faculty), and make sure that strategies don’t neglect them.
- Good data are key to understanding and improving performance.
- Look beyond the data for actual causes.
In addition, the report lists “Five Strategies That Work”:
- Setting high expectations and clear goals
- Focusing on the “front door” (reducing 1st-year attrition)
- Pouring more resources into developmental/remedial education for underprepared students
- Using instructional approaches that involve active and collaborative thinking on the part of students
- Making engagement inescapable
Reading this report reminded us how EMSI’s services to colleges can be used in several ways to increase student engagement, especially by keeping them motivated to learn and by informing them of regional career options.
First, EMSI’s Socioeconomic Impact (SEIM) Study uses hard facts and analysis to show students that the time and money they invest in a community college education will pay them back several times over through the course of their career. If a student pays $10,000 in tuition/fees, books, and “opportunity cost” (wages they could have made by working instead of going to class), they might see a $150,000 increase in their lifetime earnings — that’s assuming their education nets them a raise of merely $2.50 per hour.
Second, EMSI’s Career Clusters data can give students excellent advice about their educational goals. Students can choose a broad career area and then explore career ladders (or “pathways”) within it at various educational attainment levels, seeing the regional job outlook and median earnings for occupations at every rung of the ladder. This can show them a clear path to map their educational goals — for example, from “home health aide” (short-term on-the-job training, $11/hour) to LPN (postsecondary award, $19/hour), to RN (associate’s, $29/hour).