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  1. 1. Student Outcomes 1Running head: COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENT OUTCOMES Factors Influencing Community College Student Outcomes Robin Garza Texas State University-San Marcos
  2. 2. Student Outcomes 2 Factors Influencing Community College Student Outcomes Community college student outcomes are a measurement of the success rate ofcommunity college students achieving their goals. Community college student outcomes may bemeasured in several ways. Many vocational fields require the graduate to hold a license.Determining the passing rate of a credentialing exam is one way to measure outcomes.Calculating the rate of employment in the field of education is another. Students who areplanning to earn an associate’s degree and transfer to a university, the rate at which either or bothof these happen are another way to measure outcomes (Cohen & Brawer, 2008). Institutionalfactors have been identified, as well as some student factors. Determining what factors areinfluencing the outcomes at each institution will enable the institution to improve the studentoutcomes by making changes in either the governance of the institution, teaching methodsemployed, or in the programs that assist the students. Definitions of Terms The community college student was defined as successful if they obtained any degree, ortransferred to a four-year institution (Bailey, Calcagno, Jenkins, Kienzel, & Leinbach, 2005).Cohen (1993) defined transfer rate as all students entering community college in a given yearwith no prior college experience and completed at least 12 college credit hours divided by thenumber of that group who take one or more classes at a university within four-years. Contingentfaculty is defined by Jaeger (2008) as full-time tenured ineligible faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, full-time administrators and part-time faculty. Calcagno, Crosta, Bailey &Jenkins (2007a) defined the older student as those that enter college for the first time and are 25years old or older. The student-right-to-know (SRK) method of calculating graduation rates is
  3. 3. Student Outcomes 3based on first time full-time students entering at one time and finishing within 150% of the timethey would be expected to graduate. Nontraditional students are defined as students who holdfull-time jobs, have family responsibilities, and typically do not have external financial supportfor their studies (Philibert, Allen, & Elleven (2008). Stopped out is defined as studentstemporarily leaving college (Calcagno, et al. 2007a). Measurements of Outcomes Community colleges differ from four-year colleges in that some community collegestudents already have university degrees. The mission of the community college is different thanthe mission of the four-year university. The community college mission is broader andencompasses career and occupational programs, developmental education, and transfer coursesfor science or liberal arts (Seybert, 2002).General Education Outcomes General education outcomes can be assessed by standardized tests, follow up surveys,student portfolios, final projects, and capstone experiences and courses. Researchers will also usetransfer rates to assess general education outcomes.Transfer Outcomes Outcomes from transfer students from two-year to four-year colleges are assessedthrough surveys and academic performance data. One model evaluated how community collegestudents did in a particular course compared to those who took the prerequisite course at auniversity. The results were similar (Quanty, Dixon, & Ridley 1998). The research model wascalled a course based model of transfer success. A comparison of all transfer students from community colleges in Kansas to all four-yearcolleges in Kansas found that there was little difference between the community college students
  4. 4. Student Outcomes 4and the all four-year university students except for a temporary drop in grade point average(GPA). The all four-year college students graduated at a higher rate than the transfer students(Seybert, 2002). The lateral transfer of students from one community college to another may adverselyaffect the outcomes of the college from which the student transferred. The student may bereflected as a drop out rather than transferring out and give the college a higher attrition rate(Bahr, 2009; Bailey, Calcagno, Jenkins, Leinbach, & Kienzel, 2006).Career and Occupational Outcomes Measurement of career and occupational outcomes may be done by survey of employersand graduates. Placement in the work force and salary information determines outcome. Passingof credentialing exams is another good way to assess outcome. Career and occupationaloutcomes have had greater success in that there are more concrete ways to evaluate the studentoutcomes (Seybert, 2002). Institutional Factors Institutional characteristics influence the success or failure of the students. Someinstitutional characteristics are tutoring, size, number of contingent faculty, balance betweencertificate and degrees awarded, and the governance of the community college. Institutionalfinances and how finances influenced student graduation rates was a consideration.Tutoring A study conducted by Hendrikson, Yang, Love, & Hall (2005) demonstrated thatacademic support services such as, one on one tutoring, study groups, computer aided instructionand helping students develop learning strategies improved student outcomes. Researcherscompared the tutored students to the nontutored students and found that tutored students had a
  5. 5. Student Outcomes 5higher grade point average and retention rate. The researchers did not address the fact thatstudents going to tutoring may be more motivated to succeed than nontutored students.Size Past research (Bailey, et al. 2005; Bailey, et al. 2006) found that graduation rates godown as the school size increases. Smaller institutions have the ability to personalize the collegeexperience for the students. Research demonstrated that community college size benefited thetraditional age student using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988.Number of contingent faculty There are lower graduation rates in colleges with more part-time faculty (Bailey, et al.2005). A study conducted by Jaeger (2008) found that a student that had between 76-100% oftheir first year credits taught by contingent faculty were significantly less likely to persist thanthose students with less than 25% contingent faculty taught coursework. Student exposure tocontingent faculty of gatekeeper coursework had a negative effect on student persistence. In thisstudy, for every 10% of exposure to a contingent faculty member there was a 1% drop instudents’ likelihood to earn a bachelor’s degree. The average community college student spends50% of their time with contingent faculty; therefore this indicates a 5% decrease in their chancesof completing an associate degree. The effect of contingent faculty on students’ likeliness totransfer to four-year degree university doubled their chances of not transferring. Two possiblereasons were identified in this study. One reason is students who have access to their instructorsdo better, and contingent faculty are not as available as full-time faculty. Another reason is lackof institutional support for part-time faculty as in office space, computers, and technologicalsupport.Financial
  6. 6. Student Outcomes 6 Examining SRK data, it was determined that a greater instructional expenditure per full-time equivalents is related to higher graduation rates (Bailey, et al. 2006). The data collected wasprovided by the institutions. The method of data collection created weaknesses that wererecognized by the researchers, making it important to do further research in this area.Corporatization A greater emphasis on occupational training or workforce development lowers graduationrates (Bailey, et al. 2005). Researchers indicated this was the result of a greater share ofcertificates awarded to students who did not graduate with a degree. Corporatization of community colleges results in the overuse of contingent faculty. Full-time faculty salaries are kept low because there is a large pool of adjunct faculty to teach thecourses. The overuse of contingent faculty overloads the full-time faculty with administrativeduties. The overuse of contingent faculty is detrimental to faculty, students and the quality ofeducation (Jones, 2008). Student FactorsAge A study conducted by Calcagno, et al. (2007a), used a sample of 29,421 traditional agestudents of 17-20 year olds and a sample of 5,652 older students of 25-65 year olds. The studyfound that older students were more likely to complete a degree after accounting for andcontrolling for cognitive mathematics ability. Prior research suggested that older students wereless likely to complete a degree. Calcagno et al. removed factors that sometimes contribute to notcompleting community college, like part-time students, students with children, and stopping out.Calcagno et al. confirmed that older students graduate less but not because they were older, butbecause they needed to refresh their math skills. Researchers did not include socioeconomic
  7. 7. Student Outcomes 7information. Instead, the researchers used an indicator as in those students who received a PellGrant. Calcagno, Crosta, Bailey, & Jenkins (2007b) conducted additional research using thesame data. On entrance exams the traditional age students scored higher in math and the olderstudents scored higher in English. On five separate measures or milestone, younger studentscompleted a higher percentage of programs than the older students. Enrolling in remedialeducation had more of a negative impact on younger students than it did on older students. Theresearchers found that after controlling for ability, older students were more likely to graduate.Traditional age students who reached the milestones of 10 or 20 credits were more likely toachieve a degree than traditional age students who did not reach these milestones early.Minorities Colleges with greater numbers of minority students have lower graduation rates (Bailey,et al. 2005, 2006). A study conducted by Jenkins (2007) found that minority students have moresuccess at colleges that have programs targeted to making minorities feel welcome, such as, aminority inclusive campus environment and specialized retention services for minorities. Somerespondents of the survey in this study felt that all community college students face obstacles andspecial treatment should not be given to minority students. Others interviewed felt that as long asthere is a gap in the success rate between minority and white students, special efforts are needed.Nontraditional Students In a study conducted by Philibert, Allen & Elleven (2008) it was found that thenontraditional student made up 73% of undergraduate students. Sixty-four percent of thesenontraditional students attended community college. Only 11 of the total 311 respondents in thissurvey were strictly traditional students. Age was not used as a factor in classifying the
  8. 8. Student Outcomes 8nontraditional student by these researchers. The findings suggest that the number of youngstudents with the burdens and baggage previously associated with older students is more thanexpected. Student populations differ in how they approach the requirements of the classroom.This research suggested that institutions that tailor their requirements to the traditional studentshould reevaluate and consider the needs of the nontraditional student.Socioeconomics A study conducted by Bailey, et al. (2005) found that the financial resources of acommunity college did not influence outcomes. Individual characteristics play a greater role inoutcomes than institutional factors. Well prepared students with economic resources are likely todo well. Students with personal and financial responsibility challenges have a greater degree ofdifficulty even in a strong college.Remediation According to a study by Bettinger and Long (2005), 55% of first year students oftraditional age in community college take remedial courses. Sixty percent of these studentsenrolled in remedial math and 40% enrolled in remedial English. A larger percentage of thestudents in remedial classes are minorities. Full-time students who were in remediation complete5.4 fewer college credits than students not in remediation. Students who were in remediationwere 15% more likely to have stopped out of college and not receive a two-year degree.Remedial math students were also less likely to transfer to a university and 4% less likely tocomplete a four-year degree. Similar findings were discovered for students that had takenremedial English. Comparing students in remediation to students with similar precollege testscore who did not take remedial classes demonstrated a 15% increase in students transferring to auniversity. English remediation did not show any conclusive results one way or another.
  9. 9. Student Outcomes 9 Conclusion Measuring outcomes of community colleges is different than measuring outcomes ofsecondary or university programs. Community colleges have a different mission and cater to aunique set of students. Students making lateral transfers can also make determining outcomesdifficult. A student may leave one institution and complete a program or degree at anotherinstitution. This will result in a successful outcome only for the second institution. Vocationalprograms have very measurable outcomes because the students, in most cases, need to pass acredentialing exam. It can be a little more difficult to follow every student as they enter theworkforce. Determining the reasons for good or poor outcomes is important so that institutionsand faculty can make adjustments to improve the success rate of the students. This literature review focused on the institutional factors and student factors thatinfluenced outcomes. Tutoring is an institutional factor that has a direct impact on students.Tutoring has shown to raise students GPA and also increase their retention rates; however, manycommunity colleges offer free tutoring to its students or prospective students. Students that doattend tutoring are often more motivated learners. Motivated students may influence the resultsof research on tutoring and outcomes. The size of the community college seems to influence thegraduation rate in that graduation rates go down as the community college size goes up. Theresearch reviewed did not offer an explanation for this. There needs to be further research toidentify the causes of the affect of community college size on graduation rates. The greater thenumber of part-time faculty in an institution adversely affects the quality of education. It is welldocumented in current research that the student persistence rate and the likelihood of a studentobtaining a degree decreased with an increased number of contingent faculty. Many communitycolleges use a large number of part-time faculty. There needs to be more research in this area to
  10. 10. Student Outcomes 10help affect change in the governance of community colleges, by hiring more full-time faculty.Examining SRK data it was determined that greater expenditure per full-time equivalent, thehigher the graduation rates. There should be more research in this area. More financial supportfor community college is proposed to be available by the federal government. Before moremoney is added to the community college coffers, it is important to know what type ofinstitutional factors will improve community college student outcomes. Many communitycolleges are training workers for the community. Many of these programs use part-time faculty.Part-time faculty often, also work in local companies part-time while they teach. They are paidless than full-time faculty and they dont receive benefits. Community colleges that have agreater emphasis on workforce education are shown to have lower graduation rates, possiblybecause of the greater number of part-time faculty. More research in this area should beconducted to determine the reason for the lower graduation rates of these community colleges. Research suggests that older students were less likely to complete a degree, however,research that eliminated factors that contribute to not completing a degree found that olderstudents are more likely to complete a degree. Factors that contribute to a student not completinga degree are financial responsibilities, family responsibilities, and working and going to school.These are all things more commonly affecting the older student, but Philibert, Allen, and Elleven(2008) found that more and more younger students are affected by these issues also. Researchalso shows that older students returning to school have weak math skills. This is speculated to bebecause of the student being rusty in math because they have not used math as much as they useEnglish skills in their day to day life. A possible result of this research is for community collegesto offer math refresher courses or workshops instead of a whole semester of remedial education.Research shows that traditional aged students who require remedial English have less of a chance
  11. 11. Student Outcomes 11of completing a degree. Researchers suggested that high schools should do a better job inpreparing these students for college. It is not clear whether the students who need remedialeducation are less likely to complete a degree because of time constraints or because of lack ofability. More research should be done in this area. More focused and of shorter duration type ofremedial classes may be more helpful. Community colleges with greater numbers of minoritystudents have a lower graduation rate. Research did not clearly identify the cause of this. Onecommunity college had targeted programs to make the minority feel more welcome. The collegesalso had specialized retention services geared toward minority students improving the graduationrates at these community colleges for minority students. More research should be conducted inthis area to determine the cause of the difficulties that minority students have in communitycollege. In the mean time, more community colleges should make efforts to have programs thatare more inclusive of minority students. While institutional factors are important, the greater role in outcomes comes from theindividual students. The well prepared students with economic resources and have parents thatalso attended college are most likely to complete their goals.
  12. 12. Student Outcomes 12 ReferencesBahr, P. R. (2009). College hopping: Exploring the occurrence, frequency, and consequences of lateral transfer. The Community College Review, 36, 271-298. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Bailey, T. Calcagno, J. C., Jenkins, D., Kienzel, G. & Leinbach, T. (2005, October). Community college student success: What institutional characteristics make a difference? Community College Research Center (Working Paper No. 3). Columbia University, New York, Teachers College. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Bailey, T. Calcagno, J. C., Jenkins, D., Leinbach, T., & Kienzel, G. (2006). Is student right to know all you should know? An analysis of community college graduation rates. Research in Higher Education, 47, 491-519. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Bettinger, E. P., & Long, B. T. (2005, April). Remediation at the community college: Student participation and outcomes. In C. A. Kozeracki (Ed.), New Directions for Community Colleges, no. 129: Responding to the challenges of developmental education (pp. 17-26). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Calcagno, J. C., Crosta, P., Bailey, T., & Jenkins, D. (2007a). Does age of entrance affect community college completion probabilities? Evidence from a discrete time hazard model. Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 29, 218-236. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Calcagno, J. C., Crosta, P., Bailey, T., & Jenkins, D. (2007b). Stepping stones to a degree: The impact of enrollment pathways and milestones on community college student outcomes.
  13. 13. Student Outcomes 13 Research in Higher Education, 48, 775-801. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Cohen, A. M. (1993, April). Analyzing community college student transfer rates. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Atlanta, GA. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Cohen, A. M., & Brawer, F. B. (2008). The American community college (5th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Hendrikson, S. I., Yang, L., Love, B., & Hall, M. C. (2005). Assessing academic support: The effects of tutoring on student learning outcomes. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 35(2), 56-65. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Jaeger, A. J. (2008). Contingent faculty and student outcomes. Academe, 94(6), 42-43. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Jenkins, D. (2007). Institutional effectiveness and student success: A study of high and low impact community colleges. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 31, 945-962. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Jones, J. A. (2008). Foundations of corporatization: Lessons from the community college. The History Teacher, 41, 213-217. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Philibert, N., Allen, J., & Elleven, R. (2008). Nontraditional students in community colleges and the model of college outcomes for adults. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 32, 582-596. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.Quanty, M., Dixon, R., & Ridley, D. (1998). A new paradigm for evaluating transfer success. Assessment Update, 10(2), 12-13.
  14. 14. Student Outcomes 14Seybert, J. A. (2002, May). Assessing student learning outcomes. In T. H. Bers & H. D. Calhoun (Eds.), New Directions for Community Colleges, no. 117: Next steps for the community college (pp. 55-65). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Retrieved July 13, 2009, from ERIC from Ebsco database.