The efficacy of active and collaborative learning environments in community colleges
Community colleges continue to experience enrollment increases, which required the institutions to adapt teaching methods to embrace new educational technologies, students' learning styles, and changing demographics of the growing student population. Higher education institutions developed curricula that moved toward active student-centered teaching. This ex post facto quantitative study examined whether active and collaborative learning models contributed to student engagement and retention within the community college experience. Analyzing archived data from the Active and Collaborative benchmarks of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) 2006 administration, the study answered research questions relating to student engagement and retention within the North Texas Community College System (NTCCS). Analysis of the CCSSE Active and Collaborative benchmark for learning revealed that the NTCCS group responders reported engaging in significantly higher levels of the active and collaborative learning activities identified in the survey than did the national non-NTCCS cohort group. Active and Collaborative benchmark item analysis indicated that NTCCS responders participated in four of the seven individual items more frequently than did the non-NTCCS comparison group. The study also revealed that NTCCS responders were more frequently engaged in activities directly related to classroom and group projects that required working together on class projects. Discussion of coursework with people outside of the class was also found to be indicative of the NTCCS responders. However, student engagement was not found to extend to a broader community or to assist other students in the learning process outside of the classroom. Finally, analysis of retention data for the NTCCS cohort group found that participating in Active and Collaborative learning activities did not appear to impact student retention at the NTCCS group of colleges. However this information must be further investigated due to the small percentage of students who provided identification numbers that were necessary to determine whether or not the students returned to college for the following semester. This study also revealed how effect sizes attribute to empirical results and the need for proper sample population when determining the effectiveness of the CCSSE instrument as a predictor of student engagement and retention.
0443: Educational evaluation