This report supports “benchmarking” as a way for community colleges to measure how well they are making sure the students who start their programs actually finish. Benchmarking is defined as the “systematic process of comparing an organization’s performance on key measures to the performance of others,” as well as comparing that performance to an objective standard of excellence.
The report looks at such factors as how well a college informs youths about financial aid and how engaged students are in their classes (evidenced by such things as asking questions, getting tutoring or working with other students outside of class). It highlights examples of community colleges that have taken a deliberate approach toward improving student engagement.
Scaling Up Learning Communities: The Experience of Six Community Colleges
National Center for Postsecondary Research
This report examines lessons learned at six community colleges that have adopted the strategy of using “learning communities” – defined as groups of students who enroll together in two or more courses so that they all experience the same coursework, which is often thematically linked. These learning communities are seen as a way to help students get to know each other better and foster stronger relationships with faculty.
Among other things, the report found that a paid coordinator and committed leaders were essential to managing and scaling up learning communities, but that curricular integration was hard to accomplish on a meaningful, large-scale basis.
Free, 153 pages. http://www.postsecondaryresearch.org/i/a/document/12887_LCfullreport.pdf.