Looking under the hood of student engagement with CCCSE

TRIP REPORT: Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE)

I recently visited with Kay McClenney and her team at the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE). 

Some things you might not know about CCCSE:

  • Located at UT-Austin in the Community College Leadership Program
  • Employs 28 people all working on survey administration and/or technical assistance to help colleges digest and respond to survey findings
  • Administers four surveys each year (2 student surveys, 1 faculty survey, and 1 for college leaders)
  • Have surveyed over 2M students in 819 colleges in 49 states since 2002
  • Makes “IR in a box” services available to all participating colleges

We are working with CCCSE to help them enhance their annual surveys by adding a special item module that will help us (a) better understand which specific practices individual colleges are deploying to try and improve student engagement and (b) better understand the link between student engagement and improvements in student outcomes.

Some things you might not know about this project:

  • Jointly funded with the Lumina Foundation
  • Designed to help organize and map diffusion of the various practices that colleges are employing to improve student engagement
  • Will formulate a view of “high impact” practices from a composite of special item modules embedded in all four CCCSE surveys
  • Will include a matching of survey responses to student unit record data in a subset of colleges (still TBD)
  • Includes a technical advisory panel that will fine tune survey design

The meeting was a great opportunity to get better acquainted with CCCSE’s organizational structure, mission, and vision.  Over the long term, they want to build out their institutes (perhaps taking a regional approach) that can serve as annual opportunities for community college leaders who are serious about using data to redesign a student’s first year experience (i.e. help them gain “early momentum”).

The meeting left me thinking about all of the intersections that CCCSE’s work might have with the Completion by Design project.

Other items of note:

  • Byron McClenny joined us for the last hour and gave an update on a powerrful project that he is leading for the Houston Endowment.  This is a project designed to improve the transition from high school to college in the Houston area.  The Institute for Evidence Based Change (national Cal-PASS model) is providing data support for this work.
  • Both Kay and Byron encouraged us to lengage trustees as agents of change in the completion movement.  The unique positioning of trustees creates opportunities “down” to presidents seeking support to pursue completion agendas and “up” into the state policy infrastructure.

For more about CCCSE, check out the 2010 CCCSE National Report, The  Heart of Student Success: Teaching, Learning, and College Completion.

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