Diane Hirshberg Center for Alaska Education Policy Research (CAEPR)
Community Colleges: Opening or Closing Doors for Students?
February 14, 2013
The background for this research
Is it the two-year college itself that is limiting student success?
Formal research question:Do students who begin at two-year colleges achieve less academic success than otherwise similar students who begin at four-year colleges?
What does previous research indicate?Clark (1960, 1980) -- two-year colleges are counterproductive in the overall educational achievement of students and cause cooling out
What does previous research indicate?Brint and Karabel (1989) -- the dream of education as a route to upward mobility, as well as the ideal of equal educational opportunity for all, are both seriously threatened by the community college.
What does previous research indicate?Dougherty (1994) -- "Is it an avenue of opportunity for its many working-class, minority and female students, or is it a blind alley blocking off equality?"
Measures of academic success(1) whether a student remains continuously enrolled throughout college(2) total number of semesters a student successfully completes(3) highest degree, if any, a student obtains
Matching variables(1) gender(2) ethnicity(3) mother's highest level of education(4) father's highest level of education(5) total family income during the student's eighth grade year(6) the student's own predictions of how far he or she will go in post secondary education, made while a senior in high school.
Brief Methodology OverviewSix digit index variables (for example 115613)Gender1 = male2 = femaleMothers level of education1 = less than high school education 2 = high school graduate3 = AA / AS / Junior College / College less than four years 4 = BA / BS 5 = Masters degree 6 = PhD, MD, JDExample index variable 115613Tells us this is a male, Hispanic, etcMatch max. number of students possibleIf 5 students from the two-year group have the index variable 115613And 3 students from the four-year group have the index variable 115613Then 3 pairs were matched with this index variable
How many students were involved?9,875 students available6,022 after cleaning for my six variables1,553 matches for a total of 3,106 students.
What does this tell us?On these variables, two year students do not achieve at the same level as their four year peers, even when matched on important background variables
What doesnt this tell us?Why not?What are we doing to influence the culture of success at our institutions both positively and negatively?
How do we create a culture of success?