Challenges and opportunities for improving community college student success

October 4, 2010

As public concern heightens over current completion rates for students at America's community colleges, a University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher has systematically examined 25 years of rigorous research in search of explanations of success and remedies for dropouts.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies and of Sociology, points to key contributions made by institutional practices and to the important role that federal and state resources and policies play in shaping colleges' capacity to increase . Community college student success depends on altered campus environments and college operations, as well as on more effective incentives for college and student performance.

This review of social science, education and policy studies, "Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Community College Student Success," includes a discussion of 14 of the most popular and well-evaluated practices currently in use at community colleges, including learning communities, dual enrollment and incentive programs, and financial aid reforms.

Goldrick-Rab's review is published in the current issue of Review of Educational Research, one of the American Educational Research Association's six peer-reviewed journals. The full text of the article is available through the AERA Web site: www.aera.net

A former National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow, Goldrick-Rab is senior scholar at the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education, co-director of the Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study, and a 2010 William T. Grant Faculty Scholar. She has concentrated her research on college access and completion, affordability and financial aid, community and technical colleges, and higher education finance.

Explore further: Better alignment needed between high schools, community colleges

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