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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Publication Details

Tools of Engagement: Success Course Influence on Student Engagement

Author(s): Mills, M. T.

Citation: Mills, M. T. (2010). Tools of Engagement: Success Course Influence on Student Engagement. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 22(2), 9-31.



Improving student outcomes requires better tools for assessing program effectiveness. Student success courses are offered on most college campuses. However, extant research is overwhelmingly summative, of mixed rigor, and focused on four-year colleges, providing limited support for improving practice in community colleges. This study examined relationships between participation in an extended orientation student success course and engagement as measured by the Community College Survey of Student Engagement. Findings showed (a) modest but positive course influence on use of support services, faculty interaction, and active and collaborative learning; (b) limited understanding of the influence of success courses on students indicated by weak alignment between course goals and engagement outcomes; and (c) connections between course instructional attributes and engagement gains.


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