The Community College Research Center (CCRC) has been awarded nearly $3 million from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program to study how guided pathways reforms in community colleges can help students succeed in STEM programs and identify what works so other colleges can jumpstart their reforms. A second grant of $1.4 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will allow CCRC to expand its research into English language learners in community colleges.
The National Science Foundation project—“Evaluating the Potential of Community College Guided Pathways Reforms to Increase Undergraduate STEM Student Success”—builds on CCRC’s extensive research into guided pathways reforms, which are being adopted by hundreds of community colleges across the country. Led by Senior Research Scholar Davis Jenkins and CCRC Director Thomas Brock, the project will run for three years and examine guided pathways implementation in 70 community colleges in Washington, Tennessee, and Ohio. The project will explore how guided pathways reforms are changing STEM programs; what practices are leading to improvements; what metrics should be used to evaluate the changes; and how the reforms affect outcomes for students, especially those who are underrepresented in higher education. The researchers will produce a practitioner guide on how community colleges can leverage guided pathways reforms to improve access to and completion of undergraduate STEM programs.
“Too few community college students—especially students of color and low-income and first-generation students—earn degrees and transfer in STEM programs,” Brock said. “College leaders want to know how they can make higher paying STEM programs a viable choice for larger numbers of students and help them map out an efficient path to a degree. This project will give them some answers.”
College leaders want to know how they can make higher paying STEM programs a viable choice for larger numbers of students and help them map out an efficient path to a degree. This project will give them some answers.
—Thomas Brock, Director, CCRC
The IES grant, which will also run for three years, will expand CCRC’s research in an understudied area. English language learners are a growing proportion of college students, and CCRC will use the grant to begin to explore basic questions about these students, their academic outcomes, and factors that affect their success in college. Senior Research Scholar Nikki Edgecombe will lead the project, titled “Exploring the Experiences and Outcomes of English Learners in Community College,” in partnership with researchers led by Professor George Bunch at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Photos courtesy of CCRC and iStock.