Practices to Pathways

by Debra Bragg / Nov 3, 2014

What innovations are being implemented at your college to improve student success? Put another way, what “high-impact practices” are making a measurable difference in college completion at your college? The Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) at the University of Texas at Austin recently issued a report revealing numerous high-impact practices that matter to college completion, according to their research. The report, "A Matter of Degrees: Practices to Pathways," presents data on the following “high impact” practices:

1.  Orientation
2.  Accelerated or fast-track developmental education
3.  First-year experience
4.  Student success course
5.  Learning community
6.  Academic goal setting and planning
7.  Experiential learning beyond the classroom
8.  Tutoring
9.  Supplemental instruction

The score-card format of this report provides visually appealing descriptive results from selected community colleges that use the CCCSE survey. The report also offers a set of “campus-conversation questions” to encourage better use of data to scale and sustain these high-impact practices into the future. Practitioners who engage in these conversations are bound to benefit, and so are their students.

Based on OCCRL’s experience with the Transformative Change Initiative (TCI), the questions posed by CCCSE are smart questions for practitioners to explore. They parallel the scaling activities that OCCRL is seeing community colleges implement in association with the Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Act College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants. In this regard, the TCI tools and templates provide additional resources to maximize the impact of high-impact practices on student success. Extending conversations about how innovations within college can positively influence student success outside of college is vital to TAACCCT, and increasingly important to consider in the context of college completion and student success. TCI helps practitioners make thoughtful, strategic decisions about how to scale innovations that benefit all students, whether they are continuing in college or transitioning to the workplace, or both.

Debra Bragg, OCCRL director and Gutsgell Endowed professor at Illinois, researches the transition to college by youth and adults, especially student populations that have not attended college historically.