Journal of Applied Research in Community Colleges

Journal of Applied Research in Community Colleges. Peer-Reviewed Since 1993

FALL 2023 - VOLUME 30, ISSUE 2

Navigating Change for New College Presidents: Community College Presidents Leading Change During Their First Five Years

Chi-Chung Keung, Rancho Santiago Community College District

Today’s community college president is a strategic thinker, fundraiser, academician, financial analyst, entrepreneur, marketer, public relations expert, and student recruiter. Community colleges face a challenge in recruiting leaders to fill the presidency and retaining them to ensure stability during seasons of change. Stable leadership in the president’s office impacts student success and, potentially, the college’s success for years to come. A new president’s ability to navigate change, especially in the first five years at an institution, will likely determine their tenure at the college.

Thirteen first-time college presidents, in their first five years, were selected for this study. The study found new college presidents were unafraid to lead and navigate change on their campuses. Participants incorporated purpose-driven leadership as necessary in becoming change agents. Although change was difficult, often bringing disruptions, disagreements, and dissent, the study found ethical leaders who put students' needs first overcame challenges to establish sustainable changes.

Keywords: community college, change leadership, president tenure, work-life balance, new president

Keung, C.-C. (2023). Navigating change for new college presidents: Community college presidents leading change during their first five years. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 3-16.

Predictability of High School GPA on Community College GPA and Math and English Course Success for Nontraditionally Aged Students

Mark A. Perkins, University of Wyoming
Jonathan W. Carrier, University of Wyoming
Joseph M. Schaffer, Laramie County Community College

Community colleges are tasked with correctly placing new students in credit-bearing or remedial coursework. Much research has been completed on the accuracy of placement measures, but little has focused on the appropriate course placement of nontraditional students. This study used path analysis to examine the effects of high school GPA on community college GPA and community college math and English grades, with years since high school graduation as a mediator. The results showed that high school GPA’s predictability lessens as students get older. Other placement approaches, such as corequisite education and guided self-placement, are recommended as an option for nontraditional community college students.

Keywords: placement; nontraditional; GPA

Perkins, M. A., Carrier, J. W., & Schaffer, J. M. (2023). Predictability of high school GPA on community college GPA and math and English course success for nontraditionally aged students. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 17-31.

Self-Reported Reasons for College Student Attrition

Jeffrey D. McCarty, Casper College
Jonathan W. Carrier, University of Wyoming
Amanda C. DeDiego, University of Wyoming
Valerie Thompson-Ebanks, University of Wyoming

Community college students frequently decide to withdraw from college without achieving their educational goals. In decades of research into student attrition and retention, very few studies have asked the students themselves why they chose to leave. This concurrent triangulation mixed-methods study adds to the literature by analyzing self-generated statements from 2,838 students who made the choice to leave college over a five-year period at a rural-serving community college in the Mountain West. The statements, collected on an exit survey, were coded and analyzed to identify reasons for complete withdrawal. The coded reasons were Money, Family, Time, College-related, Health, Transfer, Work, Moving, and Other. The codes were further examined by frequency and analyzed with two-sample z tests for proportions to compare student reasons for withdrawal among different demographic groups. Further research using student-generated reasons for withdrawal will help institutions understand how to better help students achieve their educational goals.

Keywords: attrition; community college students; complete withdrawal; retention

McCarty, J. D., Carrier, J. W., DeDiego, A. C., & Thompson-Ebanks, V. (2023). Self-reported reasons for college student attrition. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 33-50.

Predicting Post-Transfer Adjustment: The Role of Institutional Size on Vertical Transfer Students in Louisiana

Jingwen Liu, Louisiana State University
Yu April Chen, Louisiana State University

This study quantitatively examined the influence of institutional size and other relevant factors on the post-transfer adjustment of vertical transfer students attending a large, public, research-intensive university in Louisiana. We collected survey data from 266 vertical transfer students and matched it with institutional transcript data. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was used to explore the underlying constructs of institutional size. We then conducted multiple linear regressions to predict students’ post-transfer adjustment with institutional size as a key predictor. Findings highlighted the role of institutional size as an influential predictor of transfer students’ academic adjustment and social adjustment, respectively. Valuable implications were provided for higher education policy and practice.

Keywords: post-transfer adjustment; institutional size; vertical transfer; Louisiana

Liu, J., & Chen, Y. A. (2023). Predicting post-transfer adjustment: The role of institutional size on vertical transfer students in Louisiana. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 51-70.

Expanding the Workforce Using Extended Reality (XR) in Community College Career Technical Education: Faculty Perspectives

Jeannie Mitsch, Cypress College
Sunny Liu, University of La Verne

The COVID-19 pandemic and the technological revolution pushed faculty to quickly provide remote instruction to replace what was and historically had been hands on and in person. This study aimed to understand the experiences of community college Career Technical Education (CTE) faculty that used extended reality (XR) to improve their program of study and prepare students for proficiency and skill attainment in workforce development. A phenomenological approach was taken to understand the faculty’s shared experience using XR for instruction and assessment in their community college CTE courses. The findings of this study revealed four themes (evolution, connection, potential, and commitment) related to the lived experience of CTE faculty with XR in their courses. The study’s findings provide insight into the experiences of community college CTE faculty and offer implications of XR implementation and recommendations for future research.

Keywords: community college; Career Technical Education (CTE); extended reality (XR); faculty

Mitsch, J., & Liu, A. (2023). Expanding the workforce using extended reality (XR) in community college career technical education: Faculty perspectives. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 71-83.

Applying the Servingness Framework to Hispanic-Serving Community Colleges: An Environmental Scan

Erin E. Doran, Iowa State University

The purpose of this study is to apply the Multidimensional Conceptual Framework for Servingness in Hispanic-Serving Institutions to specifically Hispanic-Serving community colleges (HSCCs). Utilizing an environmental scan approach, this study included an analysis of 36 HSCC websites to document the ways that these institutions build servingness into the structures of their institution in ways that can meaningfully support Latinx students. Within this subset of HSCCs, the scan found that colleges enact and/or signal a commitment to servingness in uneven, varied ways, including through mission statements, strategic planning documents, and curricular offerings. This scan has implications for existing HSCCs committed to improving their servingness as well as emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions on track to reach this federal designation.

Keywords: Hispanic-Serving community colleges; servingness; qualitative

Doran, E. E. (2023). Applying the servingness framework to Hispanic-Serving community colleges: An environmental scan. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 85-100.

Building a Two-Way Practitioner-Researcher Loop for Community College Leaders

Reynaldo García, University of Maryland Global Campus
Lawrence Nespoli, University of Maryland Global Campus
John Braxton, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University
Kenneth Ender, North Carolina State University

In this practice brief we argue for the establishment of a two-way loop to exchange a research agenda and research findings in a consumable and actionable format for community college practitioners. We present the findings of the Community College Research Exchange for Practice and Policy effort to elicit a research agenda from a series of focus groups with community college practitioners across 10 states. The dissemination of a research agenda is the completion of the first part of the two-way loop. The second part of the two-way loop involves having community college researchers use the agenda to inform the research studies they conduct. Finally, we argue for testing various media and formats beyond traditional academic journals to present the results of research studies so that those results may be more accessible and useful for community college practitioners.

Keywords: community college research agenda; community college practitioners; two-way practitioner-researcher loop

García, R., Nespoli, L., Braxton, J., & Ender, K. (2023). Building a two-way practitioner-researcher loop for community college leaders. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 103-116.

Caring in the Community: Advocacy for ESL Students Through Social Constructivism and Case Management Practices

Sydney D. Richardson, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Sharrika D. Adams, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Case management and social constructivism are two theories not often combined when providing care for nontraditional community college students; there is also a dearth of literature on ways in which the two areas relate to adult English as a Second Language (ESL) students at community colleges. In this practice brief, we explain ways in which case management via social constructivism was used by faculty and staff to advocate for, empower, and care for ESL students at one community college. We hope that this practice brief will help community college administrators develop ways to enhance an inclusive environment for ESL students utilizing case management practices.

Keywords: English as a second language; community college students; case management; social constructivism

Richardson, S. D., & Adams, S. D. (2023). Caring in the community: Advocacy for ESL students through social constructivism and case management practices. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 117-130.

FERPA and Dual Enrollment: Institutional Practice and Policy Considerations

Matthew Ison, Northern Illinois University
Joy Cobb, Ohio University
Molly C. Ward, Columbus State Community College
Samantha Hollback, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

The proliferation of dual enrollment programs throughout the community college sector has blurred the line between high school and college, complicating adherence to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations. Drawing on both professional experiences working with dual enrollment programs and the emerging scholarship on dual enrollment, this practice brief provides practical guidance for community college leaders regarding their FERPA obligations with dual enrollment students, offering recommendations for institutional practice and policy.

Keywords: dual enrollment; community colleges; FERPA

Ison, M., Cobb, J., Ward, M. C., & Hollback, S. (2023). FERPA and dual enrollment: Institutional practice and policy considerations. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 131-140.

Nontraditional Students: The Way to Improving Enrollment and Completion

Amanda Kennedy, University of Arkansas

The percentage of nontraditional students enrolled in community colleges is higher than in prior years. Additionally, the diverse makeup of nontraditional students requires a new approach to meeting their needs, which may require different support than that needed to serve traditional students. Community colleges could look to nontraditional students as an opportunity to bolster their enrollment numbers, thereby increasing funding and improving completion rates. This practice brief delves into the research regarding nontraditional students and makes recommendations for community college leadership that focus on supporting and retaining nontraditional students. Five suggestions to improve the experience of nontraditional students include performing a thorough needs assessment, including nontraditional students when constructing more flexible policies, providing professional development regarding diversity and nontraditional populations to staff, providing continual support and advising for nontraditional students, and helping alleviate financial barriers through tuition reduction.

Keywords: nontraditional students; increasing enrollments; retaining students

Kennedy, A. (2023). Nontraditional students: The way to improving enrollment and completion. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 141-149.

Supporting Students in the Transition from an Adult Education High School Equivalency Program to a Community College Credit Program

Rebecca J. Warren, University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville

This practice brief highlights the importance of supporting students transitioning from adult education programs for high school equivalency students to community college credit programs. It emphasizes the decline in community college enrollment since the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to focus on recruiting and retaining nontraditional students, including high school equivalency completers. The brief discusses the challenges faced by high school equivalency graduates in terms of low college enrollment and completion rates and explores strategies for supporting their successful transition to community college programs. The recommendations provided in the brief are organized according to Schlossberg's Transition Theory. By implementing the recommended strategies, community colleges can effectively support high school equivalency graduates in their transition to college and enhance enrollment and completion rates among this student population.

Keywords: community colleges; High School Equivalency; transition

Warren, R. J. (2023). Supporting students in the transition from an adult education high school equivalency program to a community college credit program. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 151-161.

Developing an Equity-Focused Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program for Community College Social Science Students

Marissa C. Vasquez, San Diego State University
Cassandra Horg-Aaron, University of North Texas
Danielle Huddlestun, San Diego State University
Fernando Garcia, University of California, Los Angeles
Brayan Astorga, San Diego State University
Naomi Ramirez, San Diego State University

California community colleges serve a diverse student population, including many first-generation students and students of color. As equity-minded leaders, we must reimagine community college structures that create opportunities for students to transfer, earn baccalaureate degrees, and prepare for graduate school. One such opportunity is access to undergraduate research, which scholars have found fosters confidence, communication skills, and positive interactions with faculty and helps students develop clearly defined career goals. In this practice brief, we describe the establishment of the SEMILLAS Research Fellowship

Program, an undergraduate research fellowship for first-generation community college students. We describe the intentionality of the program design, including student recruitment, seminar material and readings, guest speakers, mentorship, research project, timing, and incentives. We close with recommendations for educators looking to create similar environments or programs that foster learning, community, and a sense of belonging for first-generation community college students.

Keywords: community colleges; undergraduate research; equity; first-generation

Vasquez, M. C., Horg-Aaron, C., Huddlestun, D., Garcia, F., Astorga, B., & Ramirez, N. (2023). Developing an equity-focused undergraduate research fellowship program for community college social science students. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 163-173.

Applying Guiding Principles to Assist in Overcoming the Wicked Problems of Black Single Mother Students in Community Colleges

Crystal DeVon Branch, University of Arkansas

This practice brief investigates the educational experiences and wicked problems of Black single mother students enrolled at Arkansas community colleges and highlights strategies for encouraging them to stay in college and finish their program. The second goal is to provide community college practitioners with informative solutions to explore in assisting and abetting efforts to enable Black single mothers to complete their postsecondary education. The Bolman and Deal framework is used in this brief to provide community colleges with recommendations regarding supporting Black single mother student populations so that future generations of Black single mother students can continue on and achieve great success in higher education.

Keywords: community colleges; racial microaggressions; wicked problems; Black single mother students; BSM students

Branch, C. D. (2023). Applying guiding principles to assist in overcoming the wicked problems of Black single mother students in community colleges. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 175-188.

Playing the Long Game: Using Communications Theory to Create Community College Faculty Support for Assessment of Student Learning

Ashley Rader, Johnson County Community College

Assessment of student learning at community colleges has become a crucial factor in earning accreditation. However, faculty support and participation in student learning initiatives can be difficult for leaders to obtain and can be a rhetorical pain point. This practice brief presents literature regarding the overall landscape of assessment of student learning at community colleges, and solutions are provided regarding creating more receptive assessment cultures and faculty support. By taking a specific approach, leadership at community colleges can move away from compliance-based approaches and toward strategies that might make a greater long-term impact as well as faculty ownership of assessment. Furthermore, alternative solutions rooted in theories widely used in psychology, communication studies, marketing, and other disciplines are presented to help bridge the gap between assessment reporting needs and faculty support and active participation at community colleges.

Keywords: assessment of student learning; community colleges; faculty support

Rader, A. (2023). Playing the long game: Using communications theory to create community college faculty support for assessment of student learning. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 189-198.

Navigating Prison Education: A Guide to Establishing a College in Prison Program

Chris McBeath, Connors State College

A college-in-prison program offers a range of benefits to both people who are incarcerated and wider society. Providing access to higher education allows people who are incarcerated to gain new skills and knowledge, increasing their employability and reducing the likelihood of them reoffending, resulting in lower recidivism rates and cost saving for the criminal justice system. College-in-prison programs can also contribute to broader social justice goals by promoting equal access to education and breaking down barriers for underprivileged communities. When colleges create prison education programs, they can help address inequality issues and provide a path to upward mobility. Navigating the policies and procedures required to implement a college-in-prison education program is challenging. This practice brief offers guidance and insight to those interested in establishing a college-in-prison program.

Keywords: community colleges; prison education programs; access

McBeath, C. (2023). Navigating prison education: A guide to establishing a college in prison program. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 30(2), 199-208.