Two New Reports by The National Center for Postsecondary Research

Breaking New Ground: An Impact Study of Career-Focused Learning Communities at Kingsborough Community College by Mary G. Visher and Jedediah Teres, with Pheobe Richman

The low completion rates of students in community colleges have been well documented. Among students who enroll in community colleges hoping to earn a credential or transfer to a four-year institution, only about half achieve this goal within six years. Many factors contribute to these low success rates, including lack of financial support, lack of motivation and direction, competing demands from family and jobs, and inadequate college-readiness skills. In an effort to address some of those barriers and to increase the number of students who achieve their education and career goals, community colleges are turning increasingly to learning communities — in which cohorts of students are coenrolled in two or sometimes three courses that are linked by a common theme and are taught by a team of instructors who collaborate with each other around the syllabi and assignments.

Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York, is a leader in the learning community movement. The college, which has run learning communities for many years and has a long history of implementing innovative programs for its students, is one of six colleges participating in the National Center for Postsecondary Research’s Learning Communities Demonstration, in which random assignment evaluations are being used to determine the impacts of learning communities on students’ academic achievement. This report presents findings from an evaluation of Kingsborough’s unique Career-Focused Learning Communities program, the latest iteration in a series of learning community models designed and implemented by the college. It consisted of two courses required for a specific major and a third course called the “integrative seminar” that was designed to reinforce the learning in the two other courses and to expose students to information about careers in their selected major.

Download the Full Report or the Executive Summary.


Does Remediation Work for All Students? How the Effects of Postsecondary Remedial and Developmental Courses Vary by Level of Academic Preparation (An NCPR Brief) by Angela Boatman and Bridget Terry Long

This Brief summarizes an NCPR Working Paper of the same title that addresses the impact of remedial and developmental courses on students with a range of levels of preparedness. Using a regression discontinuity (RD) research design, the study provides causal estimates of the effects of placement on a number of short-, medium-, and long-term student outcomes, including persistence, degree completion, and the number of total and college-level credits completed. Results of the study suggest that remedial and developmental courses do differ in their impact by level of student preparation.

Download the Brief or the Working Paper.

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