Journal of Applied Research in Community Colleges


Student Satisfaction and Success in a Low-Income Community College Environment

Damon A. Bell, Olympic College
Cedric D. Hackett, California State University, Northridge
John L. Hoffman, California State University, Fullerton

This study was set at San Bernardino Community College, which—at the time of the study—was situated in the second-poorest community in the United States. Unlike much prior research where most students come from middle class and affluent families, low-income status was a condition of the environment that arguably affected all of the students at the campus. The study utilized a campus survey to examine levels of student involvement as well as student perceptions regarding the campus environment. Exploratory factor analysis was used to identify patterns of involvement within the survey data, and then relationships between emergent factors were examined. Findings reflect patterns of involvement for low-income students and students of color that are different than in prior research, likely because of the unique nature of the setting of the study. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

Keywords: community colleges; low-socioeconomic environment; low income students; satisfaction

Bella, D. A., Hackett, C. D., & Hoffman, J. L. (2016). Student satisfaction and success in a low-income community college environment. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 23(1), 1-16.

Tuning in Community Colleges: A Study of the Development and Uses of Student Learning Outcomes

Jordan E. Horowitz, Institute for Evidence-Based Change
Brad C. Phillips, Institute for Evidence-Based Change
John Yopp, Institute for Evidence- Based Change

Student learning outcomes (SLOs) are the currency for understanding and documenting student learning. National and regional accreditors have promoted the adoption of SLOs. Unfortunately, SLOs have not permeated fully throughout the nation’s community colleges. The U.S. is not alone in trying to weave SLOs into the fabric of higher education. The European Union has a long history of developing, adopting, and implementing SLOs; due in large part to the work of Tuning. The application of Tuning in the U.S. and its effect on supporting and advancing SLOs in the community colleges is the focus of this research. Administrators, faculty, and students were interviewed at colleges around the U.S. Interviews addressed the development and impact of SLOs at their institutions. Although students found explicit SLOs clearly linked to instruction and assessment to be extremely useful, considerable variation was found among faculty within and across institutions.

Keywords: tuning; student learning outcomes (SLOS) assessment; community college

Horowitz, J. E., Phillips, B. C., & Yopp, J. (2016). Tuning in community colleges: A study of the development and uses of student learning outcomes. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 23(1), 17-26.

Student Perceptions of a Summer Bridge Program for Underrepresented Students

Perla Lopez, Grossmont College

The purpose of this study was to provide insight into the effectiveness of a Summer Bridge Program (SBP) in a large, suburban community college in southern California. This study focused on one SBP designed for historically disadvantaged student populations. Feedback from SBP students, generated through individual interviews and focus groups, were used to amass recommendations for program improvement in an effort to increase student success and completion. Over the summer, many students recognized the drastic change from high school to college, mainly that they were ill-equipped to handle the increased academic responsibilities. The results of all the analyses revealed positive perceptions of program operations and indicated that the SBP was meeting its program and student learning outcomes.

Keywords: summer bridge program; underrepresented students; community college

Lopez, P. (2016). Student perceptions of a summer bridge program for underrepresented students. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 23(1), 27-39.

Student Retention in Associate Degree Nursing Programs in North Carolina

Linda Smith, Johnston Community College
Martha Engelke, East Carolina University
Melvin Swanson, East Carolina University

Understanding and predicting student retention in nursing programs is a challenge. With the nursing shortage expected to worsen over the next several years, nursing programs must not only attract qualified students but also employ strategies to retain students and graduate competent professionals. The purpose of this article is to examine the impact of socio-demographic characteristics, dispositional factors, situational factors, and institutional factors on students’ retention at the end of the first semester and successful on-time completion. The study design is correlational prospective and the sample is comprised of students in eight associate degree nursing programs. Results indicated differences in factors that predicted first semester retention and on-time completion. Nurse educators must be aware of the factors that provide support to students based on their individual background and characteristics.

Keywords: students; retention; nursing; community college

Smithy, L., Engelke, M., & Swanson, M. (2016). Student retention in associate degree nursing programs in North Carolina. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 23(1), 41-56.

Community College Student Degree Completion Using Classification and Regression Tree Analysis

J. Cody Davidson, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
Joshua L. Bush, Eastern Kentucky University

Community college leaders often look to institutional researchers to provide information to better inform their decision-making process, which guides local policy making and practice. The purpose of this paper is to acquaint community college institutional researchers with a data visualization technique called classification and regression tree (CART) analysis and demonstrate how it may be used to communicate student degree completion findings to internal and external audiences. The CART analysis provides a data-driven pictorial representation of how successful community college students are at earning an associate degree based on demographic, financial and academic variables. Using a statewide dataset, this study found grade point average, being an underrepresented minority, KEES, earned credit ratio, age, enrollment intensity, Federal Pell Grant, and gender were statistically significant variables of associate degree completion. Implications of these findings and the application of this technique are discussed.

Keywords: classification and regression tree analysis; student persistence; degree completion; community college

Davidson, J. C., & Bush, J. L. (2016). Community college student degree completion using classification and regression tree analysis. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 23(1), 57-69.

Predicting Retention and National Physical Therapy Exam Success in a Tennessee Board of Regents Community College

Patricia J. Easley, Jackson State Community College

Physical Therapist Assistant programs have more applicants than available seats, making them highly-competitive programs to gain admission. The community colleges that offer these programs are facing unprecedented challenges including the Complete College Agenda, outcomes-based funding, open- enrollment policies and high attrition rates. Given these conditions, a trend is emerging for program directors to institute standardized testing in order to select applicants whom the programs are most likely to retain and who will ultimately be successful on the licensure exam. This study examines the predictive validity of one such standardized test: the Nelson Denny Reading Assessment.

Keywords: academic success; attrition; community college; physical therapist assistant; standardized testing

Easley, P. J. (2016). Predicting retention and national physical therapy exam success in a Tennessee Board of Regents community college. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 23(1), 71-81.