Overview of Projects
Current Research Projects
Increasing Student Success Through Improved Financial Health
The Center, working alongside existing MetLife partners, has received a MetLife Foundation grant to expand upon emerging knowledge about community college financial health—and gain new knowledge about the impact that financial health has on student engagement, a key indicator of student success and retention. The Center will conduct research—through the development, administration, and reporting of survey items—intended to assist the diverse community college student population and the leaders, faculty, and staff of community colleges as they work toward implementing policies to ensure that students with low financial education are successful. This new project builds upon the Center's Student Voices: Financial Vulnerability and Other Factors in Community College Students' Access and Success.
Completed Research Projects
Student Voices: Financial Vulnerability and Other Factors in Community College Students' Access and Success
To highlight students' perspectives and experiences related to their financial challenges, the Center produced a collection of video segments depicting community college students' financial vulnerability, a key element in their chances for postsecondary access, progress, and completion. As a companion to the video, the Center published an article in Community College Week — Speaking of Money: Students Share What They Need to Earn and Learn. A written brief, highlighting the student voice and the Center's 10-year analysis of student engagement data regarding students' financial issues offers questions for colleges to consider in order to help more students access the financial support and knowledge they need to succeed. All these products are available on the Center website.
- "Speaking of Money: Students Share What They Need To Earn and Learn," Community College Week, January 19, 2015.
- MetLife Foundation Financial Vulnerability Brief
- Engagement Matters, Volume 12, Issue 1
Starting Right: Next Steps
The Initiative is currently following a group of entering students over the course of their first academic year in community college, conducting focus groups and interviews as they begin college and as they near completion of their second semester. Those who do not persist in their studies will be interviewed to learn about the factors contributing to their departure from college. In order to deepen our understanding of the impact of initiatives that target entering students, the project includes both students who are participating in such programs or courses and students who are not.
Additionally, the Initiative is meeting with a diverse group of full-time and adjunct faculty to learn about the faculty perspective on factors that help or hinder the success of entering students, factors that help or hinder their effectiveness as instructors, and differences in perspective and experiences between full-time and adjunct faculty. The project is funded by the MetLife Foundation.
Starting Right: Walking a Mile with Community College Students
In order to better understand the entering student experience and the factors contributing to student retention and attrition in community college, the Initiative followed the same group of entering students for one academic year. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with participants four times over the course of the project: during the fall registration period before the start of classes, during the early part of participants' first semester, at the end of their first semester, and during their second semester. Interviews were conducted with those participants who did not persist in college to learn about the factors contributing to their departure. This project and the companion project described below are funded by the Houston Endowment.
Starting Right: Understanding the Pathway to College
Understanding the Pathway to College was conducted in conjunction with Walking a Mile with Community College Students. Initiative staff met with students who attended high schools that were in-district to each of the Walking a Mile community colleges. Focus groups and interviews were conducted twice with participants: during their senior year of high school and in the summer following their senior year. The project explored participants' post-high school plans, educational goals, sources of information about college options, expectations regarding the college experience, and knowledge regarding strategies and resources that might help students approach college ready to succeed.
In collaboration with the Center's launch of the Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE) and supported by the MetLife Foundation, the Initiative conducted focus groups and interviews with entering students, presidents and administrators, as well as faculty and student services staff who play a role in the entering student experience. The goal of the project was to gain an in-depth understanding "front door" college experiences by examining entering students' experiences, as well as their needs and challenges.
Building Relationships for Student Success
In an extension and expansion of the Community College Connections project (described below), focus groups and interviews at four of the award-winning MetLife Foundation Best Practice Colleges. The focus of the project was to learn more about the impact of relationships on improving student persistence, learning, and attainment.
Community College Connections
From 2002 through 2006, colleges participating in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) were recognized through the MetLife Foundation-sponsored Initiative on Student Success for exemplary performance on CCSSE's student retention index, a focus on colleges' performance on three of the CCSSE benchmarks that research and practice indicate are most closely tied to increased student retention. Over the four-year period, 16 high-performing colleges were honored as "MetLife Foundation Best Practice Colleges" and received $10,000 awards from the MetLife Foundation plus national publication of their exemplary practices.