The spring 2014 semester brought many changes to the campus of Edison State College. Not only has the campus developed its Fort Myers location to now offer student housing, but it also announced that it will soon become known as Florida Southwestern State College. This decision was made in order to assist the college in its external message to prospective students and the community, to show the value a student receives when enrolled in their degree programs. Additionally, Literacy Council finished our first semester serving ESL and remedial education students through our College Community Collaboration (3C) program.

In an effort to connect with students on another level, Edison State College announced in January that it would be participating in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE). The Edison State College student engagement is a national study developed by the Center for Community College Student Engagement and the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin. The survey focuses on teaching, learning, and retention in community colleges.

According to the Center for Community College Student Engagement, the research shows that students who are more engaged with faculty, staff, other students, and the subject matter taught in the classroom are more likely to persist in their studies and achieve higher levels of academic success. The survey helps college administrators understand the activities, goals, and external responsibilities of their student body. With this knowledge, the college is better suited to adapt their programming and create an environment that enhances student learning, development, and retention.

Classes and students were randomly selected by the Center for Community College Student Engagement. The CCSSE asks students to report the frequency in which they engage in activities representing “good educational practice” (for example, participation in classroom discussions, interacting with students and faculty outside of class, etc.). Students are also asked about their participation in additional learning activities such as college orientation programs, internships, developmental education, and organized learning communities. Students report the number of hours per week spent on these activities, as well as other external responsibilities (preparation for class, work, parenting, etc.).

Other survey items include gathering information on the frequency with which students utilize academic and student support programs provided by the college. Students are asked to rate the importance of these services to them and their value to their overall educational experience. The level of difficulty the student experiences in the classroom is also indicated; this takes the form of the amount of reading and writing required for each course over the school year, the difficulty of exams, and the analysis and application of their studies. According to the Center’s website, students surveyed estimate the extent to which their experience at the college has contributed to their development of knowledge, skills, and disposition in a variety of areas, such as general education, communication, and working effectively with others.

All of the factors mentioned above contribute to the student’s overall satisfaction with the college and directly correlates to their persistence in their pursuit of higher education and their rate of success. We believe that our collaboration, which pairs students with tutors and mentors, will create another layer of support for continued student success and academic achievement!