Improving the success of academically underprepared students who are in need of developmental (or remedial) education is a key challenge facing community colleges today. Many of these students enter college with little awareness of these institutions’ expectations or a clear model for how to make effective decisions about their academic careers. To help students address these challenges, a number of colleges across the country have looked to success courses (also called study skills, student development, or new student orientation courses). This report analyzes a success course for developmental education students at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and its impact on students’ psychosocial skills and behaviors and academic achievement.
After joining Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count in 2004, a national organization designed to mentor colleges through an institutionwide, student success-oriented improvement process, Guilford chose to offer a revised version of its student success course to developmental education students, aimed at improving psychosocial awareness and academic achievement. Modeled on Skip Downing’s On Course philosophy and curriculum, it placed an intensive focus on changing students’ behaviors and attitudes, including increasing their awareness of their and others’ emotions, understanding their own learning styles, improving time management skills, and recognizing their responsibility for their own learning. Guilford hoped that these changes in students’ personal habits and behaviors might help them take better control of their academic lives, which would ultimately result in gains in achievement.
This study employed random assignment methodology to examine the impact of Guilford’s success course. (author abstract)