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ERIC Number: ED498358
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Aug
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 28
New Data Needed: Improving Survey Research on Two-Year College Experiences. Issues & Answers. REL 2007-No. 015
Rosenbaum, James E.
Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest
Two-year colleges used to be a small part of higher education, but they now enroll almost half of all entering college students. This report suggests new data is needed on this evolving sector of academe, including: (1) What are the unseen barriers in two-year-colleges?; (2) What are the unseen college options?; (3) What are the implications of new pathways through college?; and (4) What are the ways that college can improve labor market outcomes? The report identifies the kinds of information that research can obtain to answer these questions and how that information can be useful for understanding new college realities and improving college procedures and policies. This report uses prior studies of two-year colleges and students to identify information not frequently collected from national surveys, that may help researchers understand students' two-year college experiences, and it outlines what information is not being obtained from current national surveys. The author advocates that surveys need to collect better information about new programs, new colleges, new degrees, noncredit courses, test scores alignment, and job placement. Also needed are new indicators of attainment (such as skill relevance and timely completion). Programs that are preparatory, exploratory, or recreational in college and occupational programs need to be better understood, as do new patterns of college attendance, such as delayed entry and college moves. Amid all this, how students understand (or misunderstand) the college experience and its implications is also cited for research, as is examination of issues not currently studied or studied in insufficient detail: college students who are several years away from taking college credit classes that count toward a degree, who do not understand noncredit classes, who choose classes that do not count toward their major, or who have unrealistic timetables. Research should study the implications of new options and pathways: new kinds of colleges, new kinds of associate's and bachelor's degrees, delayed college entry and college mobility, ways colleges prepare students for the labor market, and ways colleges offer job placement services. Noting that information is not always readily available and that some students in college are not actually in college-level classes that satisfy degree requirements, are not working toward a degree, are proceeding more slowly than assumed, and have less certain employment prospects than they expect, Rosenbaum concludes that researchers should endeavor to provide information that helps make the college experience more transparent, encourages policies toward that end, and that student surveys are a sound starting point to initiate change in education policy and practice. [This report was prepared for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest administered by Learning Point Associates.]
Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest. 1120 East Diehl Road Suite 200, Naperville, IL 60563. Tel: 866-730-6735; Fax: 630-649-6700; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Institute of Education Sciences (ED), Washington, DC
Authoring Institution: N/A
IES Funded: Yes