NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED515132
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1526-2049
The Structure of Student Decision-Making at Community Colleges. CCRC Brief. Number 49
Scott-Clayton, Judith
Community College Research Center, Columbia University
Based on a longer review, this Brief summarizes research evidence and theoretical discussion regarding whether community college students are more likely to persist and succeed in programs that are tightly and consciously structured, with relatively little room for individuals to deviate from paths toward completion, and with limited bureaucratic obstacles. The lineage of this hypothesis can be traced back in part to Tinto's seminal work on student persistence (1993), which recognized that the dropout phenomenon is not solely an individual failure but also an institutional one. In the community college context, this hypothesis has been prominently raised in recent years by Rosenbaum, Deil-Amen, and Person (2006), who examined differences in organizational procedures between public and private two-year colleges. The definition of "structure" used in this Brief refers not only to explicit institutional policies and procedures, but also to "norms and nudges" that may more subtly influence individuals' decisions at a point of action. This broad definition is influenced by recent literature on choice architecture, which calls attention to the way that choices are structured and presented. After outlining the kinds of decisions community college students face and the context within which they do so, this Brief introduces several concepts to examine how the structure of student decision-making may influence students' choices. It then discusses evidence regarding potential structure-based interventions and concludes with suggestions for future research and practice. [This Brief is based on "The Shapeless River: Does a Lack of Structure Inhibit Students' Progress at Community Colleges? CCRC Working Paper No. 25. Assessment of Evidence Series" (ED515131).]
Community College Research Center. Available from: CCRC Publications. Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street Box 174, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3091; Fax: 212-678-3699; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: Columbia University, Community College Research Center