This is an October 2008 summary of introductory research for a student population profile assignment in CCE 542 (Classroom Management)
1. Student participation in online or hybrid courses.
The SBCTC reports in “Selected Program Student Characteristics” 2003-2007 [pdf] that it is clear that students are increasingly participating in online or hybrid courses (pdf at 8-9). From my perspective, this means that there is a growing opportunity to meet the diverse needs of students.
2. Technical capacity of the school / technology available to students.
While this may not seem to necessarily be a student characteristic, I think that the technical capacity of the school and the technology available to students is a significant learning-related issue for students. I think that until schools offer adequate online resources to students, teachers will have to make due with limited resources that do not meet the needs of their students (See “Building a Culture of Evidence for Community College Student Success” MDRC/CCRC May 2007 [pdf] at 48, pdf at 79).
In a 2007 study sponsored by the Ford Foundation, “Communications Case Study: Washington State” [pdf], it appears that Washington State Community and Technical College system has had a significant increase in available resources (pdf at 9) and Washington State may be in a good position to demonstrate that adequate online resources can enhance the student learning experience and address many barriers that exist for student success.
via NAAL “Literacy in Everyday Life: Results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy” April 2007 [pdf – executive summary], Key Findings: Number of Adults in Each Prose Literacy Level:
30 million (14%) Below Basic: no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills
63 million (29%) Basic: can perform simple and everyday literacy activities
95 million (44%) Intermediate: can perform moderately challenging literacy activities
28 million (13%) Proficient: can perform complex and challenging literacy activities
These stunning statistics appear to present a significant challenge and a significant opportunity for the development of online coursework. Particularly in light of the report that “low-skill adult students … make up one-third of the approximately 300,000 students served annually by the [Washington State Community and Technical College] system” (See “Building Pathways to Success for Low-Skill Adult Students: Lessons from Community College Policy and Practice from a Statewide Longitudinal Tracking Study” by David Prince & David Jenkins, April 2005 [brief] [abstract]) and:
“many students who enter community college are not academically prepared to do college-level work. Research shows that approximately 60 percent of freshmen beginning at community college are in need of at least one remedial or developmental course” (“Building a Culture of Evidence for Community College Student Success” MDRC/CCRC May 2007 [pdf] at 1, pdf at 27)
4. Student goals
In “Building a Culture of Evidence for Community College Student Success” MDRC/CCRC May 2007 [pdf], it is noted that “For low-income people, in particular, these colleges offer a pathway out of poverty and into better jobs.” (pdf at 9).
I have seen this theme repeated throughout reports that I have been looking at, as well as an overall sense that community colleges are not doing a statistically impressive job at helping students reach this goal (at 18, pdf at 44) (See Also Using Longitudinal Data to Increase Community College Student Success: A Guide to Measuring Milestone and Momentum Point Attainment
“… research shows that SES is a key factor in college access and attainment (Adelman, 1999; Cabrera, Burkum, & La Nasa, 2005; Long, 2004; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; Rouse, 1995).” (abstract, pdf at 1) (2000 SES chart at pdf at 11)
In addition, it is noted in “Building a Culture of Evidence for Community College Student Success” MDRC/CCRC May 2007 [pdf] that “[s]everal studies have shown that students from low-income families not only enroll in college at lower rates than do students from high-income families but are also less likely to earn a credential.” (at 32, pdf at 58)
6. Prior college experience
via “Building a Culture of Evidence for Community College Student Success” MDRC/CCRC May 2007 [pdf]:
“many students who enter community college are not academically prepared to do college-level work. Research shows that approximately 60 percent of freshmen beginning at community college are in need of at least one remedial or developmental course” (at 1, pdf at 27)
I think that a lack of college experience can be a significant characteristic that relates to how to effectively design and implement coursework. A lack of college experience in a large segment of the student population suggests that there is a need to not only teach the subject matter of the course but to also educate students about the college experience, including the expectations of the school and strategies for success.