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Piecing Together the Student Success Puzzle: Research, Propositions, and Recommendations: ASHE Higher Education Report, Volume 32, Number 5

ISBN: 978-0-7879-9776-2
200 pages
April 2007, Jossey-Bass
Piecing Together the Student Success Puzzle: Research, Propositions, and Recommendations: ASHE Higher Education Report, Volume 32, Number 5 (0787997765) cover image
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.

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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

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