AAC&U News: April 2015
Facts & Figures

Engagement Rising: Ten Years of Data on Community College Student Engagement

The Center for Community College Student Engagement

 The Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) administers an annual survey to collect data on students’ engagement with their coursework and their relationship to faculty and staff at their colleges. After more than a decade of administering the survey, CCCSE’s latest report indicates “an unmistakable trend: consistent, continuous improvement in engagement.”

The findings are organized by CCCSE’s five benchmarks for effective educational practice—active and collaborative learning, academic challenge, support for learners, student effort, and student-faculty interaction—that have been demonstrated to have a powerful effect on student learning and success. Promisingly, the upward trend in engagement applies to both full- and part-time students. The report is not entirely good news, though—despite the increase in student engagement, CCCSE surveys still find that relatively few community college students are participating in many of the high-impact educational practices that could further support their learning and persistence.


Academic Challenge and Integrative Learning

  • Both full- and part-time students are slightly more likely to report engaging in challenging academic activities than they were ten years ago, including making class presentations and working with other students outside of class to complete projects.
  • Full-time students are significantly more likely to report synthesizing and integrating information and concepts (an increase from 60 percent to 67 percent) and use information they read or heard to perform a new skill (an increase from 61 percent to 69 percent).
  • Part-time students in particular are more likely now to complete all their assigned work—the percentage of part-time students reporting they never come to class without completing readings or assignments increased from 21 percent to 31 percent.


Student-Faculty Interaction and Support for Learners

  • Some of the most dramatic changes to occur in the last ten years are related to student-faculty interaction—96 percent of full-time students and 92 percent of part-time students  use e-mail to regularly communicate with their instructors (up from 79 percent and 66 percent, respectively).
  • Students are also now more likely to consult with an instructor or advisor about their career plans—in 2014, 80 percent of full-time students (vs. 74 percent in 2004) and 70 percent of part-time students (vs. 61 percent in 2004) reported doing so regularly.
  • While relatively few students say they feel very supported to thrive socially, the share that do has increased significantly over the last ten years—from 31 percent to 40 percent for full-time students, and from 24 percent to 34 percent for part-time students.


Changes in Student Demographics

  • The racial makeup of the student population has shifted over the last ten years—while the percentages of black and Asian students have stayed relatively constant, the percentage of white students fell from 58 percent to 50 percent, and the percentage of Hispanic students grew from 14 percent to 20 percent.
  • The share of traditional-age students is now 58 percent, up from 55 percent ten years ago, and the percentage of male students also increased—from 41 percent to 44 percent.
  • The difference between full-time and part-time enrollments has changed little in the last ten years—62 percent of community college students attend full time today, compared with 61 percent in 2004.


Full results and a description of the methodology are available online from the Center for Community College Student Engagement. See also AAC&U's community college initaitive, Developing a Community College Student Roadmap.

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AAC&U News is written and edited by Ben Dedman. If you have questions or comments about the newsletter's contents, please e-mail dedman@aacu.org.


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