The Community College’s Role in Developing Students’ Civic Outcomes: Results of a National Pilot
In November 2015, Carrie Kisker, Director of the Center for the Study of Community Colleges, and Dayna Weintraub, Doctoral Candidate at UCLA, presented results from the Civic Outcomes Survey national pilot at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) in Denver, Colorado. The Civic Outcomes Survey is a collaborative effort between TDC and the Center for the Study of Community Colleges. An abstract of the 2015 national pilot can be found here:
Ideally, community colleges both democratize opportunity and develop in students the civic skills necessary to participate meaningfully in a democratic society. Yet scholars know very little about the ways or the extent to which community colleges develop the civic capacities of their students. Thus, the Center for the Study of Community Colleges and The Democracy Commitment developed a new survey to assess civic learning. In spring 2015, nine community colleges from across the nation participated in a pilot administration of this survey, allowing for the first national examination of community college civic outcomes. Utilizing factor analysis and multiple stepwise regression, the study identifies the individual and institutional variables associated with greater civic agency, capacity, behavior, and knowledge. Results indicate that student behaviors while in college, as well as certain college characteristics such as institutional intentionality toward civic engagement, have powerful implications for the development of students’ civic outcomes. Furthermore, this study suggests that those programs and practices which are intended to develop students’ civic learning and democratic engagement—such as courses focused on inequality, racial/ethnic organizations, student elections, and so forth—are effective in doing so. Thus, the more community colleges work to establish policies and programs that encourage these behaviors, and the more they create opportunities for students to interact with one another, wrestle with thorny social or political issues, and engage in their communities, the more likely it is that their students will display the civic outcomes necessary to participate meaningfully in a democratic society.
Click here to read the entire paper, which was also co-authored by Mallory Newell, Director of Institutional Research at DeAnza College.