Piecing Together the Student Success Puzzle: Research, Propositions, and RecommendationsASHE Higher Education Report
J-B ASHE Higher Education Report Series (AEHE), Band 116 Volume 32 Number 5
Creating the conditions that foster student success in college has never been more important. As many as four-fifths of high school graduates need some form of postsecondary education to be economically self-sufficient and manage the increasingly complex social, political, and cultural issues of the 21st century. But about 40 percent of those who start college fail to earn a degree within 6 or 8 years, an unacceptably low number. This report examines the complicated array of social, economic, cultural and educational factors related to student success in college, defined as academic achievement, engagement in educationally purposeful activities, satisfaction, acquisition of desired knowledge, skills and competencies, persistence, and attainment of educational objectives. Although the trajectory for academic success in college is established long before students matriculate, most institutions can do more than they are at present to shape how students prepared for college and they they engage in productive activities after they arrive. This is the 5th issue of the 32nd volume of the Jossey-Bass series ASHE Higher Education Report. Each monograph is the definitive analysis of a tough higher education problem, based on thorough research of pertinent literature and institutional experiences. Topics are identified by a national survey. Noted practitioners and scholars are then commissioned to write the reports, with experts providing critical reviews of each manuscript before publication.
Executive Summary vii Foreword xiii Introduction, Context, and Overview 1 Definitions and Conceptual Framework 7 Major Theoretical Perspectives on Student Success in College 13 Sociological Perspectives 13 Organizational Perspectives 15 Psychological Perspectives 16 Cultural Perspectives 17 Economic Perspectives 19 Summary 19 The Foundation for Student Success: Student Background Characteristics, Precollege Experiences, and Enrollment Patterns 21 Student Demographics 21 Family and Peer Support 29 Academic Preparation and Motivation to Learn 34 Enrollment Choices and Patterns 39 Summary 42 Student Behaviors, Activities, and Experiences Associated with Student Success 43 College Activities 45 A Closer Look at Engagement in Effective Educational Practices 54 Student Characteristics 61 Summary 66 Notes 66 Institutional Conditions Associated with Student Success 69 Structural and Organizational Characteristics 71 Programs and Practices 79 Summary 102 Propositions and Recommendations for Student Success in Postsecondary Education 105 Propositions and Recommendations 106 Needed Research 123 A Final Word 130 Appendix A: Note on Research Methods 131 Appendix B: Indicators of Student Success in Postsecondary Education 133 References 135 Name Index 169 Subject Index 176 About the Authors 181