August 9, 2018
Ilana Sacknovitz, Ex Libris
Approximately 40% of undergraduate college students in the United States today attend community colleges rather than universities. The majority of these students are studying part time, while struggling to support both themselves and dependents. According to a Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) study, 30-37% of students spend 11 hours or more per week caring for dependents, and 19-41% spend more than 30 hours per week working. With the challenges that these students face, it is of little surprise that when asked about their plans after their current semester in college, nearly a quarter of CCSSE respondents reported that they were uncertain about returning to college. Indeed, fewer than 40% of community college undergraduate students manage to earn a degree from a two- or four-year institution within six years.
Meeting the Challenge
How can community colleges overcome these challenges? A study by the Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University (CEPA) suggests that “understanding how students actually progress through their college programs is essential in developing strategies and choosing appropriate interventions to improve student outcomes.”
By understanding students’ pathways in college and developing strategies to assist students with their coursework and academic plans, institutions can improve their students’ chances of successfully completing their studies.
By understanding students’ pathways in college, institutions can improve their students’ chances of successfully completing their studies.
Aligning the selection and provision of course materials with learning objectives and putting students’ needs at the center of decision-making regarding the selection and delivery of course materials can play a key role in helping students fulfill their academic requirements.
By using course resource list tools that are integrated with the library’s management system, community colleges can guide students through course material in a way that best supports their learning objectives and complements their classroom experience, providing them with a number of benefits:
- Easy access to all course material from one place so that students do not have to spend time obtaining materials from multiple sources or dealing with authentication barriers.
- Lower cost of course materials for students through the identification of relevant library-owned resources and open-access materials. By fully leveraging the college library’s collection, instructors can help students avoid the unnecessary purchase of course materials.
- Greater ability of students to plan ahead and pace themselves properly for their course requirements.
Equally important, providing a collaborative environment for instructors to interact with students through course resource lists allows instructors and the college library to monitor how students are engaging with the assigned materials. Instructors can use this collaborative learning environment to identify students’ challenges with the assigned materials and adjust and improve course resources accordingly.