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Challenges in Making Connections

Community colleges face a number of challenges as they work to foster connections among students, faculty, and sta.

Campus culture. One indicator of the campus culture is the language used to describe students and their prospects for success. Is it the language of deciency or the language of potential, the language of despair or the language of hope? Is there an obvious shared conviction that all students can learn, or is it acceptable to believe that some students just cannot learn? Is there support for courageous conversations about race, class, and institutional performance, or do fear and resistance make such conversations taboo?

Scale. Individual actions do not add up to large-scale change until they are intentionally coordinated, driven by a shared vision, and implemented through collaborative processes. Colleges are challenged to ensure innovative ideas are tested and successful ones reach beyond individual classrooms and become integrated throughout the college.

Data. Colleges are challenged with collecting and sharing data about their students and the quality of their students’ educational experiences. e data should inform decisions about priorities for improving student engagement and success as well as for faculty and sta professional development.

Technology. It is a challenge to equip colleges and their people to use new technolo- gies — and to keep both equipment and skills up to date. Colleges also must identify the technology tools that best meet their students’ needs. How should colleges determine which technologies to use in which situations, with which students?

e connection gap. Colleges must continue to connect part-time faculty and part- time students to the experiences most essential to fostering professional growth and student success.

Economic concerns. In today’s economy, virtually all community colleges face the challenge of limited resources. However, an economic downturn is no time to default on the student success agenda; students and the country are depending on successful outcomes at community colleges as the cornerstones for individual advancement and renewed economic prosperity. Community colleges are preparing a new generation of workers, retraining those already in the workforce for new careers, educating students who are attending college part-time because they cannot aord to attend full-time, and making sure all Americans can contribute productively. More than ever, students and communities deserve to receive the highest possible value for their investment.

For more information about CCSSE and the 2009 surve , visit www.ccsse.org.

Any way you can get students involved, beyond just coming here for three classes and wande ing off to work and all of their other responsibilities, is going to enhance the chances that they re going to achieve their goals here.”

  • Faculty member

“If I were to work the Ask Me table, and someone were to ask me, ‘Where s the science building?’ I wouldn’t have a clue. Maybe we need to have something for our new staff membe s to introduce them to the campus and the college culture so we can be more effective in dealing with our students.”

  • Staff member

2009 Findings 21

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