Annandale Learning & Technology Resources Dean Dr. Braddlee and Christine Wolff-Eisenberg of Ithaka S+R co-authored a report that examines how community college libraries can play an important role in helping their students to succeed. The report, “Amplifying Student Voices,” examines student goals, challenges and needs from the student perspective. It is part of the Community College Libraries & Academic Support for Student Success project that the educational research group Ithaka S+R is conducting along with NOVA and six other prominent community colleges across the nation. Support for the grant comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Dr. Braddlee noted that there is a lot of serious discussion among community colleges “about guided pathways, advising, and other strategies, but there has been less focus on the role libraries can and do play in fostering student success.” In the report, researchers wrote that they see an opportunity “to leverage the resources that students most often associate — for example, the library as the most significant academic space on the campus outside the classroom — as a platform and stepping off point for adopting, adapting, or building new services that will be attractive and relevant to (their) students.”
Five hundred students were randomly invited from across the seven different participating colleges to take part in the study. In-depth interviews were conducted with 37 of those students. Students see their schools as “good schools” that are accessible and affordable, but that their peers face challenges balancing work, finances, class schedules, transportation issues, and navigating the resources colleges offer. Career advancement and skill mastery were cited by students as personal measures of success in contrast to metrics like transfer or completion rates that colleges often use.
A large-scale survey, testing potential services concepts identified in this round will be the focus of future phases of this project followed by an evaluation and assessment phase of the value of the services. The complete report may be found online at: http://www.sr.ithaka.org/blog/new-report-supporting-student-success-at-community-colleges/.