Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Initiative on Student Success?

The Center uses two approaches to better understand students' community college experiences: the CCSSE and SENSE surveys, which provide detailed quantitative data, and the Initiative on Student Success, which provides qualitative data. The Center first analyzes survey data, and then, through the Initiative, asks focus group and interview participants to describe more fully the experiences behind what they're telling us in their survey responses. The surveys' rich data help college leaders better understand what is happening in students' community college experience. Data from the focus groups and interviews can help college leaders learn specifically what experiences lead to students' survey responses and which college practices help or hinder students' success.

In addition, through the Initiative, the Center frequently invites faculty, administrators, and staff to participate in focus groups so that college leaders can better understand what perceptions and experiences lie behind faculty responses on the Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement and how students, faculty, and staff perspectives compare to one another.

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How are colleges selected for Initiative projects?

A select group of colleges are invited to participate in each project in accordance with parameters of the research design, and based on factors such as location, enrollment, and student population.

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My college would like to participate in an Initiative project. Whom do I contact?

Colleges interested in participating in an Initiative project should contact the Center at info@cccse.org.

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How much does it cost for a college to participate in an Initiative project?

Due to the generous support of our funders, the MetLife Foundation and Houston Endowment, Inc., there is no fee for institutional participation in Initiative projects.

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What are the institutional benefits for participation in an Initiative project?

Participating institutions will receive reports highlighting information gathered from focus groups and interviews with their participants. These reports, along with the CCSSE and SENSE data, help institutions target areas in which they can improve the student experience and help more students succeed.

Additionally, education leaders nationwide utilize findings from focus groups and interviews that are shared with a broader audience via national publications, conference and workshop presentations, and online at the Center's website and YouTube.

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I was recruited to participate in an upcoming Initiative focus group project. What can I expect?

Initiative staff will interview a group of approximately seven to nine students, faculty, or staff from the college. The group will be asked questions about your experiences at the college and their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes about the college and education more broadly. Participants also will be asked to complete a short questionnaire related to the conversation. Focus groups and interviews are videotaped in order to share what we learn from our conversations.

Findings from the focus groups at your college will be reported back to the college and to education leaders nationwide. Conversations with us are confidential; written publications will exclude all identifying information. Video products will also exclude identifying information such as name and college; however, it is possible that participants will be recognized in a video segment.

For more information about being a participant in an Initiative project, please contact the Center at info@cccse.org.

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Why are Initiative projects videotaped and how is the video used?

A special and unique feature of the Initiative is its emphasis on bringing forth student voices. Through video segments, the Initiative brings to life the student experience. As college leaders work together to improve the success of their students, the power of the student voice – as seen and heard in these representative video segments – prompts rich conversations among those seeing the videos and helps college leaders better understand and act upon the students' experiences. Video segments are shared in workshop or national conference presentations and are posted on the Center's website and YouTube.

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What if I have additional questions?

Please contact us.

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Center for Community College Student Engagement
—a Research and Service Initiative—
Program in Higher Education Leadership | Department of Educational Leadership and Policy  | College of Education
The University of Texas at Austin
Comments to: webmaster@cccse.org