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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Meléndez, Edwin; Falcón, Luis M.; de Montrichard, Alexandra
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2004

    Community colleges have become key institutions delivering employment training services to the population targeted by welfare-to-work grants (Carnavale and Desrochers, 1997; Meléndez and Suárez, 2001). Many community colleges have developed new programs and structures to meet a stringent set of program requirements and to provide support services for welfare recipients (Katsinas, Banachowski, Bliss, and Short, 1999). Most new programs specifically designed to serve welfare recipients have a significant component of continuing education or noncredit courses such as GED preparation and ESL to develop participants’ basic skills. These short-term vocational training programs create links between certificate and degree programs and act as mechanisms to close the gap between training and education (Bailey, 1998; Grubb, 1996). Providing the opportunity for academic and career advancement is perhaps the greatest theoretical advantage community colleges have over other employment training institutions, such as community-based job-training organizations and employer-based training.

    ...

    Community colleges have become key institutions delivering employment training services to the population targeted by welfare-to-work grants (Carnavale and Desrochers, 1997; Meléndez and Suárez, 2001). Many community colleges have developed new programs and structures to meet a stringent set of program requirements and to provide support services for welfare recipients (Katsinas, Banachowski, Bliss, and Short, 1999). Most new programs specifically designed to serve welfare recipients have a significant component of continuing education or noncredit courses such as GED preparation and ESL to develop participants’ basic skills. These short-term vocational training programs create links between certificate and degree programs and act as mechanisms to close the gap between training and education (Bailey, 1998; Grubb, 1996). Providing the opportunity for academic and career advancement is perhaps the greatest theoretical advantage community colleges have over other employment training institutions, such as community-based job-training organizations and employer-based training.

    Community college success in serving low-income and disadvantaged populations has led to proposals that two-year institutions assume a more central role in regional workforce development systems (Carnavale and Desrocher, 1997; Jenkins and Fitzgerald, 1998). In this study, we examine the ways community colleges have transformed their operations in response to the challenges inherent in educating a disadvantaged welfare recipient population with multiple academic and social needs. This chapter examines the following questions: To what extent have community colleges adapted for the welfare recipients entering their institutions? Have the changes in policy induced different responses among mainstream versus predominantly minority-serving colleges? How are curriculum, instruction, student services, and educational programs changing to meet the needs of welfare recipients and other disadvantaged students? What are the institutional factors affecting colleges’ participation in workforce development programs? Lessons from case studies and best practices in programs targeting welfare recipients presented in this chapter are particularly relevant to mainstream community colleges targeting nontraditional and minority students. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Weiss, Michael; Brock, Thomas; Sommo, Colleen; Rudd, Timothy; Turner, Mary Clair
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    Community colleges across the United States face a difficult challenge. On the one hand, they are "open access" institutions, with a mission to serve students from all backgrounds and at varying levels of college readiness. On the other hand, they must uphold high academic standards in order to maintain accreditation and prepare students for employment or transfer to four-year schools. How, then, can community colleges best serve students who want to learn but do not meet minimum academic standards?

    Chaffey College, a large community college located about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, began to wrestle with this question early in the twenty-first century. Under the auspices of a national demonstration project called Opening Doors, Chaffey developed a program designed to increase probationary students’ chances of succeeding in college. Chaffey’s program included a "College Success" course, taught by a counselor, which provided basic information on study skills and the requirements of college. As part of the course, students were expected to complete five visits to "Success...

    Community colleges across the United States face a difficult challenge. On the one hand, they are "open access" institutions, with a mission to serve students from all backgrounds and at varying levels of college readiness. On the other hand, they must uphold high academic standards in order to maintain accreditation and prepare students for employment or transfer to four-year schools. How, then, can community colleges best serve students who want to learn but do not meet minimum academic standards?

    Chaffey College, a large community college located about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, began to wrestle with this question early in the twenty-first century. Under the auspices of a national demonstration project called Opening Doors, Chaffey developed a program designed to increase probationary students’ chances of succeeding in college. Chaffey’s program included a "College Success" course, taught by a counselor, which provided basic information on study skills and the requirements of college. As part of the course, students were expected to complete five visits to "Success Centers," where their assignments, linked to the College Success course, covered skills assessment, learning styles, time management, use of resources, and test preparation.

    In 2005, MDRC collaborated with Chaffey College to evaluate the one-semester, voluntary Opening Doors program. In 2006, the program was improved to form the two-semester Enhanced Opening Doors program, in which probationary students were told that they were required to take the College Success course. In MDRC’s evaluation of each program, students were randomly assigned either to a program group that had the opportunity to participate in the program or to a control group that received the college’s standard courses and services. This report presents the outcomes for both groups of students in the Enhanced Opening Doors evaluation for four years after they entered the study. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Weiss, Michael J. ; Visher, Mary G. ; Wathington, Heather ; Teres, Jed; Schneider, Emily
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    Over the last four decades, community colleges have played an increasingly important role in higher education. Today, community colleges enroll more than one in every three undergraduates nationally. Unfortunately, among students who enroll in community colleges with the intent to earn a credential or transfer to a four-year institution, only 51 percent achieve that goal within six years. Many postsecondary institutions operate learning communities to improve low rates of success. Basic learning communities simply co-enroll a cohort of students into two classes together. More comprehensive learning communities include additional components: The courses have integrated curricula, instructors collaborate closely, and student services such as enhanced advising and tutoring can be embedded, among other approaches.

    This report presents results from a rigorous random assignment study of a basic learning community program at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa Bay, Florida. Hillsborough is one of six community colleges participating in the National Center for Postsecondary...

    Over the last four decades, community colleges have played an increasingly important role in higher education. Today, community colleges enroll more than one in every three undergraduates nationally. Unfortunately, among students who enroll in community colleges with the intent to earn a credential or transfer to a four-year institution, only 51 percent achieve that goal within six years. Many postsecondary institutions operate learning communities to improve low rates of success. Basic learning communities simply co-enroll a cohort of students into two classes together. More comprehensive learning communities include additional components: The courses have integrated curricula, instructors collaborate closely, and student services such as enhanced advising and tutoring can be embedded, among other approaches.

    This report presents results from a rigorous random assignment study of a basic learning community program at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa Bay, Florida. Hillsborough is one of six community colleges participating in the National Center for Postsecondary Research’s Learning Communities Demonstration. The demonstration’s focus is on determining whether learning communities are an effective strategy for helping students who need developmental education. Hillsborough’s learning communities co-enrolled groups of around 20 students into a developmental reading course and a “college success” course. Three cohorts of students (fall 2007, spring 2008, and fall 2008) participated in the study, for a total of 1,071.

    The findings show that:

    • The most salient feature of the learning communities implemented at Hillsborough was the co-enrollment of students into linked courses, creating student cohorts.
    • The learning communities at Hillsborough became more comprehensive over the course of the study. In particular, curricular integration and faculty collaboration were generally minimal at the start of the study, but increased over time.
    • Overall (for the full study sample), Hillsborough’s learning communities program did not have a meaningful impact on students’ academic success.
    • Corresponding to the maturation of the learning communities program, evidence suggests that the program had positive impacts on some educational outcomes for the third (fall 2008) cohort of students.

    These results represent the first in a series of impact findings from the Learning Communities Demonstration. Results from the other five demonstration sites will be released in the next several years, providing a rich body of experimental research on the effectiveness of various learning community models in the community college setting. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Brock, Thomas; LeBlanc, Allen J.; MacGregor, Casey
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2005

    Accessible and affordable, community colleges are gateways to postsecondary education, offering students new ways to achieve personal and economic goals. However, many students who begin courses at community colleges end them prematurely. In an effort to confront this problem, the Opening Doors Demonstration is testing the effects of community college programs that are designed to increase student persistence and achievement. The programs include various combinations of curricular reform, enhanced student services, and increased financial aid.

    This report describes the background, objectives, and design of MDRC’s evaluation of Opening Doors. Six community colleges are participating in the project: Kingsborough Community College (New York), Lorain County Community College and Owens Community College (Ohio), Delgado Community College and Louisiana Technical College-West Jefferson (Louisiana), and Chaffey College (California). These are mostly large, well-established community colleges that offer a range of associate’s degree programs and technical or vocational programs. The...

    Accessible and affordable, community colleges are gateways to postsecondary education, offering students new ways to achieve personal and economic goals. However, many students who begin courses at community colleges end them prematurely. In an effort to confront this problem, the Opening Doors Demonstration is testing the effects of community college programs that are designed to increase student persistence and achievement. The programs include various combinations of curricular reform, enhanced student services, and increased financial aid.

    This report describes the background, objectives, and design of MDRC’s evaluation of Opening Doors. Six community colleges are participating in the project: Kingsborough Community College (New York), Lorain County Community College and Owens Community College (Ohio), Delgado Community College and Louisiana Technical College-West Jefferson (Louisiana), and Chaffey College (California). These are mostly large, well-established community colleges that offer a range of associate’s degree programs and technical or vocational programs. The six colleges make up four Opening Doors study sites, each implementing a unique intervention:

    • Kingsborough: In small learning communities, groups of incoming freshmen take classes together and receive vouchers to cover the costs of their books.
    • The Ohio colleges: New and continuing students who have completed no more than 12 credits receive enhanced counseling/guidance and a small scholarship.
    • The Louisiana colleges: Low-income students who have children under age 18 receive a scholarship that is tied to academic performance; ongoing counseling provides an opportunity to discuss goals and progress and to arrange for tutoring or other help.
    • Chaffey: Probationary students take a College Success course and receive individualized assistance in reading, writing, or math.

    The Opening Doors evaluation is the first random assignment study of programmatic interventions in community colleges — making it the most scientifically rigorous test of whether these enhanced programs can make a difference. In addition to examining short-term impacts on course completion, grades, and certificates or degrees from community college, the evaluation will determine whether Opening Doors participants experience longer-term improvements in rates of transfer to four-year colleges and universities and in employment, earnings, personal and social well-being, health, and civic participation. Finally, the study will provide an in-depth investigation into the implementation and cost of Opening Doors programs and into the perceptions and experiences of community college students and faculty in the study sites. A series of publications is planned between 2005 and 2009 to inform education policy and practice. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Purnell, Rogeair; Blank, Susan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    This paper examines how U.S. community colleges can and do organize the diverse set of guidance, counseling, and other supports — collectively known as student services — that surround their academic programming. To many Americans, community colleges are the most accessible way to earn the postsecondary degrees that can be stepping stones to economic and personal success. In addition to typically charging lower tuitions and using less stringent admissions policies than four-year colleges and universities, community colleges are often better geared to the needs of students who have low incomes and to so-called nontraditional students, such as young single parents, financially independent adults, welfare recipients, students of color and of immigrant backgrounds, first-generation college students, and older and disabled students. However, many of these students never graduate from community colleges. To address the problem of high attrition rates in these institutions, MDRC has launched a demonstration called “Opening Doors,” which provides for one of the nation's first large-scale...

    This paper examines how U.S. community colleges can and do organize the diverse set of guidance, counseling, and other supports — collectively known as student services — that surround their academic programming. To many Americans, community colleges are the most accessible way to earn the postsecondary degrees that can be stepping stones to economic and personal success. In addition to typically charging lower tuitions and using less stringent admissions policies than four-year colleges and universities, community colleges are often better geared to the needs of students who have low incomes and to so-called nontraditional students, such as young single parents, financially independent adults, welfare recipients, students of color and of immigrant backgrounds, first-generation college students, and older and disabled students. However, many of these students never graduate from community colleges. To address the problem of high attrition rates in these institutions, MDRC has launched a demonstration called “Opening Doors,” which provides for one of the nation's first large-scale experimental evaluations of innovative strategies to help community college students complete their degree programs. Besides curricular and instructional reforms and supplemental financial aid, the third broad strategy being tested in the demonstration is the enhancement of student services.

    Drawing on a literature review, reconnaissance work to develop Opening Doors, and information on early operations of the community college sites in the demonstration, this paper provides an overview of the current state of student services and promising practices for service delivery. It examines five interrelated but distinct elements of a student services program: academic guidance and counseling; academic supports (direct instruction and tutoring on academic subjects and skills); personal guidance and counseling; career counseling; and supplemental supports like child care, transportation help, and book and supply vouchers. In addition, it considers two strategies for providing student services that cut across these categories: (1) programs targeted to low-income and nontraditional students that offer combinations of different kinds of counseling and supports and (2) multiservice centers. For each element of student services, the paper highlights innovative practices found at community colleges around the country. A concluding section offers observations on needs and opportunities associated with the provision of student services in community college settings.(author abstract)

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