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ERIC Number: ED548258
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
What Students Say They Need to Succeed: Key Themes from a Study of Student Support
Booth, Kathy; Cooper, Darla; Karandjeff, Kelley; Purnell, Rogéair; Schiorring, Eva; Willett, Terrence
Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group)
This research brief presents key findings and actionable themes from Student Support (Re)defined--a multi-year study that asked almost 900 students from 13 California community colleges what they think supports their educational success, paying special attention to the factors Africa Americans and Latinos cite as important to their achievement. The Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group) conducted this research to understand how community colleges can feasibly deliver support both inside and outside the classroom to improve success for all students. Through a review of leading studies on effective support practices and interviews with practitioners and researchers, the RP Group determined that "six success factors" contribute to students' success: (1) Directed: students have a goal and know how to achieve it; (2) Focused: students stay on track--keeping their eyes on the prize; (3) Nurtured: students feel somebody wants and helps them to succeed; (4) Engaged: students actively participate in class and extracurricular activities; (5) Connected: students feel like they are part of the college community; and (6) Valued: students' skills, talents, abilities and experiences are recognized; they have opportunities to contribute on campus and feel their contributions are appreciated A full report of student perspectives on these six success factors can be accessed at This brief presents five key themes that synthesize what students say about the six success factors and that share strategies students suggest may improve their achievement. These five themes are: (1) colleges need to foster students' motivation; (2) colleges must teach students how to succeed in the postsecondary environment; (3) colleges need to structure support to ensure all six success factors are addressed; (4) colleges need to provide comprehensive support to historically underserved students to prevent the equity gap from growing; and (5) everyone has a role to play in supporting student achievement, but faculty must take the lead. Collectively, the themes: acknowledge students as key agents in their own educational success while highlighting that the motivation learners bring to college may not be enough to guarantee completion; speak directly to the need to teach students how to navigate the community college environment; highlight the value of providing support that helps students experience multiple success factors; and underscore the importance of comprehensive service delivery to particular populations. Finally, the themes recognize the important role the entire college community plays in student success, but emphasize the need for faculty leadership. The brief concludes with a list of discussion questions readers can use to engage the college community in conversations about the findings. Also included are many ideas for change--including actions that individuals and programs can take immediately to improve students' achievement. Colleges are encouraged to use the five themes as a framework for (1) reflecting on the outcomes they want for their students and (2) identifying how support can be strategically integrated across institutional divisions and holistically into students' educational experience.
Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group). 2017 O Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. Tel: 916-444-8641; Fax: 916-444-2954; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Kresge Foundation
Authoring Institution: Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group)
Identifiers - Location: California