Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is Student Success?

Well, there is that mysterious term again, “Student success.” Been hearing that in all kinds of formulations from college administration these days, and I’ve become increasingly suspicious that no one really knows what it means. Everyone just assumes there is a commonly-accepted definition. Making it more problematic is that supposedly those using the term can cite statistics. Yes, data, but what does that data conceal or not reveal about student success.

Student A enrolls in my course, but student A is working two jobs, just changed jobs, and is signed up for fifteen credits. If student A withdraws from the course because of those demands (instead of failing the course), does that mean student success in the course is diminished according to the data.

Student B has also enrolled in my course, but student B is still working his way up the ESL and developmental reading ladder. Despite all the possible support in the course, student B fails the course. Now that obviously means that the student success rate in the course goes down.
But, what if Student B finishes the course and passes. How does the data reward that effort on the part of both instructor and student.

Student C, just decides he doesn’t like “history.” I guess that means that is not student success.

Student D plagiarizes in the course and, as a result fails. I guess that also is not student success.

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