Community colleges are two-year schools that provide open access to post-secondary education, offer workforce development and training, prepare students to transfer to a four-year college or university, and offer noncredit programs to the community. Community colleges do not provide on-campus housing but can provide some auxiliary services such as dining halls and bookstores.
Community colleges serve underserved and underrepresented populations. These colleges have a solid connection to their local community because they depend on public funding from state appropriations and local taxes. Because community colleges are relatively new and have fewer alumni, their endowments lag behind four-year universities. The median endowment for all colleges and universities is 11.5 times greater than the median endowment for two-year public colleges (St. Armour, 2020). However, community colleges' low tuition keeps higher education affordable and accessible to a more diverse population. (Ives, 2019).
Community colleges that offer online learning increase the access to higher education for all students, but especially for nontraditional students that are more likely to be employed and have family obligations that make it challenging to learn in person. As a result, online learning enrollments before the pandemic were rapidly increasing at community colleges popular with nontraditional students (Xu et al., 2013). Student demand for online education had been growing before the pandemic, and the impact of COVID-19 could increase that growth. Because of COVID-19, higher education shifted from traditional delivery to virtual learning in March 2020. The Instructional Technology Council's 2021 survey indicates that 75 % of community college enrollment will be in online courses within ten years (Lokken, 2021).
Pre-pandemic, the average community college offered a minimum of 25 percent of its courses online, so more faculty and students had already been exposed to online learning. Community colleges have established the infrastructure necessary for online learning, including professional development training and a licensed learning management system. (Lokken, 2021).
Because community colleges have strong ties to the community, they can build relationships with the local K-12 schools to ensure students are successful in their post-secondary education. Colleges can do this by developing high school transition courses for college credit, creating bridge programs for underserved high school students that provide additional support and resources, and working with the private sector to support curriculum development and work-based learning experiences. New curricula and programs can be developed based on community needs (Education Strategy Group, n.d.).
Online learning has some disadvantages for community college students. Large-scale studies of community college students have shown that students with lower GPAs, males, and African American students suffer steep declines in fully online courses, especially in introductory college-level math and English courses. Many community college students are concerned about the financial burden of accessing the internet at home (Fishman et al., 2021).
According to data from October 2020 US Census Bureau survey, 40% of households report that prospective students are canceling their plans for community college. This is more than twice the rate of four-year college students canceling their college plans (Belfield et al., 2020). Economic hardship and the fear of testing positive for COID-19 were the two main reasons for this drop in enrollment (Fishman et al., 2021).
Digital equity is a social justice issue for community colleges. According to the Community College Research Center, in 2016, 37 percent of community college students came from families that earned less than $20,000. Only 18 percent of community college students came from families earning at least $100,000. A study completed in April 2020 concludes students' ability to succeed in a remote-learning environment differs significantly by income level. Over 60 percent of students from lower-income households report not getting the necessary equipment for remote learning. Almost 35 percent of students from low-income families do not have reliable internet access. Over 55 percent say their home environment does not support remote learning (Kim et al., 2020).
Community colleges and four-year institutions should collaborate to make it easier for community college students to continue their post-secondary education. Creating a transfer program that guarantees admission to four-year institutions for community college students is a good start. The Transfer Gateway Virginia's Community Colleges offers students who earned an associate degree and a minimum grade point average guaranteed admission to over 30 public and private colleges and universities in the commonwealth. The Virginia Community College System signed Guaranteed Admission Agreements specific to each institution detailing the requirements for Virginia's Community Colleges, n.d.).
Community College Research Center. (n.d.) Community College FAQs. https://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/community-college-faqs.html
Education Strategy Group. (n.d.) Aligning for student success. https://edstrategy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ACCT8114-Aligning-for-Student-Success-Paperv6.pdf
Finkel E. (2019, November 11). Endowments: They're not just for elite universities anymore. https://www.ccdaily.com/2019/11/endowments-theyre-not-just-for-elite-universities-anymore/
Ives, K. (2019). COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND DISTANCE LEARNING. Online Learning, 10(3). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v10i3.1757
Lokken, F. (2021, August 17). Distance learning after the pandemic: What now? Community College Daily. https://www.ccdaily.com/2021/08/distance-learning-after-the-pandemic-what-now/
Nguyen, S., & Fishman, R. (2021, April 4). Where did all the community college students go? The nuances of student experience with online learning. New America. https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/edcentral/online-learning-nuances/
St. Amour, M. (2020, February 12). Endowments at two-year colleges. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/02/12/community-colleges-increasingly-are-game-endowments
Sutton, H. (2021). Recent research shows the dismal outcome for community college
enrollment after COVID-19. Recruiting & Retaining Adult Learners. 23:8-9. https://doi.org/10.1002/nsr.30717
Virginia's Community Colleges. (n.d.) Transfer Programs.
Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2011). The Effectiveness of Distance Education across Virginia's Community Colleges: Evidence from Introductory College-Level Math and English Courses. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(3), 360–377. https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373711413814
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance defines digital equity as “a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in society, democracy, and economy. Digital Equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services (National Digital Inclusion Alliance, 2019).
When higher education pivoted to online learning in March 2020, the inequities in access to online learning came to the forefront. Research conducted pre-pandemic shows that digital equity in higher education is an ongoing global problem. Digital Equity goes beyond just having access to hardware, software, and the internet. It also includes access to meaningful, high-quality, and culturally relevant digital content. Students also need access to instructors with knowledge of using digital tools and resources. As early as 2004, researchers were concerned about how the digital divide would impact students in four areas: educational advantages, future employment and earnings, opportunities for social and civic involvement, and equity and civil rights issues (Willems et al., 2019). These concerns go to the heart of the definition of digital equity.
So how did the pandemic impact digital equity? A study completed in April 2020 concludes that students’ ability to succeed in a remote-learning environment differs significantly by income levels. Over 60 percent of students from lower-income households report not getting the necessary equipment for remote learning. Almost 35 percent of students from low-income families do not have reliable internet access. Over 55 percent say their home environment does not support remote learning (Kim et al., 2020).
I saw the issue of digital equity first-hand with our students at the School of Media and Public Affairs. Students in the undergraduate Journalism and Mass Communication program must take two video production courses to graduate. These courses are usually taught in a computer lab using the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. There is an additional computer lab that students can operate 24/7, equipped with all the hardware and software they need to complete video and multimedia production projects. As you can imagine, when the university shifted to online learning, and the computer labs were closed, access to the appropriate hardware and software for those production classes became a problem. Many students relied on the computer labs because the operating systems on the computers were designed to run the Adobe Creative Cloud suite and their personal computers were not. This was an issue across the university, with many students relying on computer labs in the library and other areas to complete assignments and have internet access.
The lack of technical support was another issue for students. In June 2020, GW eliminated over 300 staff positions, including the dedicated IT teams for each department. As a result, students did not have the support they needed when they had technical issues in their online learning experience.
Faculty throughout the university were having difficulty pivoting to online learning. They had both technological and pedagogical issues. Many faculty didn’t understand how the software systems worked or how to transition the learning experience online. Equity and inclusion were an afterthought. The university provided training for faculty on how to use Canvas to teach online the week before the campus shut down. Unfortunately, the training was not required, and many faculty did not participate.
How do we fix this?
In September 2020, the university created a GW Cares program that was to be used by students for financial needs. Money for the program came from the federal government in the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). HEERF provided emergency funding for students and institutional grants for costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the Coronavirus. This included everything from money for rent to cash for a laptop or internet access. SMPA also created a separate fund specific to SMPA students. Money for this fund was raised through alumni and a generous faculty member. Over $500,000 was raised and distributed to SMPA students in 2020 and 2021. This was in addition to any financial aid students received from the university. This was a temporary fix to a more significant problem. As GW continues to grow its online programming, more permanent solutions need to be developed to address these issues.
One suggestion is for incoming students virtual and in-person to receive a computer robust enough to run the programs necessary for their coursework. The cost would be covered by using restricted endowment funds to ensure that all students have the appropriate hardware and software to succeed. Online students would receive internet hotspots for the duration of their coursework. These endowments are restricted funds for goods or services that directly impact students.
In 2020, Bowie State University provided free laptops to incoming first-year students, transfer students, and returning sophomores in need. They also offered internet hotspots for any students who needed them. The university had a laptop loaner program for Juniors and Seniors in need. Other universities instituted similar programs across the country.
Offering tech support 24/7 to online learners is necessary for students to have a successful experience with online learning. This could be provided in-house or outsourced to the various companies that have started offering these services. Pre-pandemic, the University of Central Florida began offering online tech help when students needed it most based on helpdesk tickets. Ball State University staffs their helpdesk during the day and contracts an outside company to provide support after 7 pm.
Faculty Training/Cultural Relevant Content
GW’s Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement created a webpage in August 2020 for faculty on how to maintain equity and inclusion in virtual learning. The webpage has several links to outside resources. This was a good start but did not go far enough.
Creating a required training module for all faculty teaching online is a better solution. This training should include the technical requirements to teach online and how to develop culturally relevant meaningful content.
Another is providing faculty with other faculty mentors who are experts in online learning.
Using open education resources is a great way to share and exchange digital content with everyone. The University of Maryland Global Campus gives students access to no-cost digital resources that have replaced textbooks in all their online courses.
These solutions will take time and additional resources to ensure that all students have digital equity in their learning experience.
Bowie State University. (2020). Students get free laptops & internet hotspots to close the digital divide. https://bowiestate.edu/about/news/2020/students-get-free-laptops-internet-hotspots-to-close-digital-divide.php
De La Rosa, S., (2017, April 5). Wanted: Tech Support 24/7. https://insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2017/04/05/tech-help-online-programs
Kim, H., Krishnan, C., Law, J., & Rounsaville, T. (2020). COVID-19 and U.S. higher education enrollment: Preparing Leaders for fall. McKinsey and
National Digital Inclusion Alliance. (2019).Definitions. https://www.digitalinclusion.org/definitions/
Willems, J. and Bossu, C. (2012). Equity considerations for open educational resources in the globalization of education. Distance Education, 33(2), 185-199. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2012.692051
Co-written with Tina Banks Gray and Karen M. Carty
Comparison of Student Mental Health in Community Colleges and Four-Year Institutions
Traditionally, mental health services have not been widely available at community colleges. In a study done by Bundy and Benshoff (2000), none of the seven community colleges that participated had centers that offered their students counseling services. Study participants indicated that they might or would be likely to visit a personal counseling center on campus if one were available, signaling that community college students need counseling services. Four- year institutions usually have counseling centers where their students can receive necessary services. Though some of them may not be adequately staffed or funded, their mere existence gives university students access to mental health support that some community college students do not have.
In Katz and Davison's (2014) comparative analysis study, it was found that there were significant differences in the amount of mental health information community college and university students received from their schools. Students at four-year institutions reported receiving significantly more information on mental health topics and being more interested in receiving the information than community college students. Overall, the study found "a pattern of difference in psychological concerns, available resources, and resource utilization, with community college students having more severe psychological concerns and less institutional mental health resources than university students" (Katz & Davison, 2014).
Increased demand for student mental health has affected both community colleges and four-year institutions. Almost 90 percent of presidents of public four-year institutions reported that student mental health had become more of a priority in the past three years compared to just under 80 percent of presidents of private four-year institutions and public community colleges (Chessman et al., 2019). Community colleges lag behind public and private four-year institutions
in reallocating or identifying additional funding for student mental health. Less than 60 percent of community college presidents reported reallocation or other funding to address student mental health compared to over 80 percent of public and private four-year institutions. Presidents of both community colleges and four-year institutions are hearing about student mental health issues with greater frequency. Almost half of community college presidents hear about these issues a few times a month.
Similarly, 41 percent of public and private four-year institution presidents hear about them in the same frequency. One exception to this similarity occurs in community colleges, and Presidents at community colleges were twice as likely to hear about housing insecurity than presidents of four-year institutions (Chessman et al., 2019).
Leadership Behaviors and Strategies
Effective leadership strategies and behaviors for campus mental health require a thorough understanding of relevant laws, areas of liability, student needs, and institutional capacities; strategic planning and implementation of student-centered processes and policies; and a campus- wide commitment to collaboration and communication. The increase in the number of students seeking support from counseling center services has created long waitlists due to a lack of appropriate funding. Over 50 percent of college counseling center directors at four-year institutions reported that their operating budgets have not increased over the previous year and resources cannot meet the demand for services (Reetz et al., 2015). The increased demand for mental health services on college campuses has caused colleges to rethink how to support mental and emotional wellbeing.
Students require transparent, connected, and flexible systems that meet the full range of mental health needs. To achieve such systems, institutions must have a healthy infrastructure that includes a clearly defined scope of service that best fits the campus context. Investing in student mental health support and services is a consequential investment in student learning, development, and success. As potential or actual recipients of an institution's mental health care, students can offer valuable perspectives to practitioners designing services, programs, and messaging strategies. Some institutions directly involve students in counseling center strategic planning and outreach strategy design (Reetz et al., 2015). Student-led organizations can communicate with other students to better understand and support their needs, share common experiences, and raise awareness about available resources (Gillard, Gibson, Holley, & Lucock, 2015).
Student Services departments traditionally identify college counseling centers as the epicenter of support for student mental health. Research has shown that resident life staff has historically played an important role in addressing students' mental health concerns. Resident directors, resident assistants, and residential learning community advisors identify and address student mental health concerns more frequently because they are in direct contact with students almost daily (Koch et al. 2020). Students may not want the stigma of officially reaching out to the counseling center for psychological services and may reach out to a resident assistant or director with whom they are familiar and already support the student in other ways. Integrating mental health services and residence life through counselor-in-residence initiatives is an innovative way to address and support student mental health (Orchowski et al., 2011).
Research has shown that many students with a mental illness drop out of college because they lack the tools they need to succeed in college (Field, 2021). The Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE) program was created to teach students with mental illnesses executive functioning skills of time and task management, prioritization, and organization. Students with mental illnesses that affect the frontal lobe can have delays in achieving those skills. The program is being piloted at Binghamton University. Niteo is a similar program based at Boston University that provides students with one-on-one coaching and peer group coaching. The program teaches executive functioning and coping skills to students who left college for mental- health reasons to successfully return to college (Field, 2021).
Four-year institutions cut counseling center positions during the pandemic and are scrambling to provide mental health services to students on campus, off-campus, in-person, remote, or hybrid. Many institutions are turning to digital and telehealth options as cheaper and more effective ways to offer mental health support (Carrasco, 2021).
As a result of the general lack of personal counseling services at the community college level, campus leadership needs to get creative in finding strategies to provide the mental health services their students need. Suppose there are not enough resources to provide personal counseling centers on campus. In that case, campus leadership should consider partnering with counselors and private agencies that operate near campus to provide services to their students. Other strategies include adding personal counseling software to the career counseling and academic advising processes, offering group counseling sessions, and adding personal counseling staff to existing career and academic counseling staff (Bundy & Benshoff, 2000). It is also important to find out exactly what types of services students need by conducting surveys.
Less effective leadership behaviors and strategies include not being fully invested in students' mental health and not taking action to address mental health concerns brought forward by students, faculty, or staff. Two examples of community college leadership implementing strategies to improve student mental health include work being done at Jackson College in Southeast Michigan and Gateway Technical College Wisconsin. At Jackson College, faculty, staff, and students are trained to "proactively identify and address signs of mental distress" in themselves and others (EAB, 2019). The college president and his administrative staff received training on assessing risk, providing resources and information, and recommending professional and self-help to students on campus. Additionally, they created a safe space on campus called the Oasis Center where students and staff could meet with counselors and receive support (EAB, 2019). In the case of Gateway Technical College, student support counselors "work to normalize mental health conversations by teaching classes on professional success, attending student events, and engaging with students in hallways and outside of their offices" (EAB, 2019). As a result, the burden of seeking help for mental health issues is taken off the students because mental health awareness is woven into all aspects of campus life.
Bundy, Atticia & Benshoff, James. (2000). Research: Students' perceptions of need for personal counseling services in community colleges. Journal of College Counseling. 3(10). doi: 1002/j.2161-1882.2000.tb00169.x.
Carrasco, M. (2021, September 20). Colleges seek virtual mental health services. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/09/20/colleges-expand-mental-health- services-students
Chessman, H. & Taylor, M. (2019, August 12). College student mental health and wellbeing: A survey of presidents. https://www.higheredtoday.org/2019/08/12/college-student-mental- health-well-survey-college-presidents
EAB. (2019, August 26). How community colleges can support mental health. https://eab.com/insights/daily-briefing/community-college/how-community-colleges-can- support-mental-health/
Field, K. (2021, October 25). How time-management and other tools can help students with mental illnesses stay enrolled. Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/how-time-management-and-other-tools-can-help- students-with-mental-illnesses-stay-enrolled
Gillard, S., Gibson, S. L., Holley, J., & Lucock, M. (2015). Developing a change model for peer worker interventions in mental health services: A qualitative research study.
Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 24(5), 435–445.
Katz, D. S., & Davison, K. (2014). Community college student mental health: A comparative analysis. Community College Review, 42(4), 307–
Koch, J. M., Murrell, L., Knutson, D., & Federici D.J. (2020). Promoting students' strengths to cultivate mental wellbeing: Relationships between college students' character strengths, wellbeing, and social group participation. Journal of College and University Student Housing.47(1), 10-27.
Orchowski, L., Castelino, P., Ng, H., Cosio, D., & Heaton, J. (2011). The design and implementation of a counselor-in-resident program. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 25(3), 241-258.
Reetz, D.R., Bershad, C., LeViness, P., & Whitlock, M. (2015). The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors annual survey. https:///www.auccd.org/assets/documents/auucd%202016%20monograph%20-
Why is the concept of Student-Ready College so important?
Having a college degree reduces the risk of being unemployed and increases socioeconomic mobility. The student population is becoming more diverse with students attending college from different backgrounds and cultures at much higher rate than in the past. Many students attending college are non-traditional learners, having joined the workforce after high school instead of going directly to college. These students struggle to stay in college and graduate. It is essential for colleges to adapt student services, business operations, and academic programs to be responsive to the specific needs of all students so they are successful. In the past, colleges expected students to come to college prepared to be successful. For many lower-income students or non-traditional students, they are not prepared and look to the college to help them develop the academic and social skills they need to be successful in the real world. Student-ready colleges do this by focusing on the individual to prepare them to succeed in college and to be active participants in society once they graduate.
Who needs to be involved for this transition to happen?
The motivation for transitioning to a student-ready college needs to be clearly articulated so everyone understands their role and how they are contributing to the process. The transition to a student-ready college should be inclusive and include everyone working on a college campus. Letting faculty and staff have a voice at the table during the transition is an excellent motivator. If they are able to contribute their ideas to the transition, they are more likely to buy into the transition and work to make the transition successful. This is a great example of what shared governance should look like.
It is also important for students to have role models that they can relate to. Using faculty and staff to connect with students is a great way to develop leadership skills and for students to feel connected. One way this could be done is by connecting first-generation students enrolled in college with faculty and staff that were also first-generation students. The faculty and staff can serve as role models for these students and help them navigate the college process. Empowering staff to engage with students is a way for the entire campus community to be actively engaged and supportive of the transition. Everyone is working towards a common goal of serving students.
Students should also be part of the discussion and give insight on how to move the transition forward. Having a voice at the table will go a long way to getting buy in on the process from the students and make them active participants in the process.
Who will benefit from this concept and why?
This is a situation where everyone benefits. Students benefit from a campus community that is engaged and actively working to help the students succeed academically and socially. The administration, faculty, and staff are working together to use their experiences to serve students. On many college campuses, staff do not feel connected to the student experience. Actively engaging staff in educating students makes them feel like they are active participants in the campus community and will increase productivity and morale. Faculty will engage in students differently in a student-ready college and focus on student success. Faculty will need to know who their students are, what their background or culture is, and understand their socio-economic status to understand how each student learns to be effective teachers. Students will have more empathetic instructors and be treated as an individual instead of lumped into a group.
What is the benefit to the institution for doing this?
A student-ready campus creates an inclusive campus community. This is one of the biggest benefits of this concept. All employees across every level of teaching and service feel part of the transition process and are focused on student success. Faculty will become better teachers and connect more with their students. Students will have a nurturing environment in which to learn. Students will all be treated as capable learners and will be encouraged and supported as they develop the social and academic skills they need to be successful contributing members of society.
McNair, T. B., Albertine, S. L., Cooper, M. A., McDonald, N. L., & Major, T. (2016). Becoming a student-ready college: A new culture of leadership for student success. Jossey-Bass.
Global learning is part of international education associated with study abroad but now includes other interactions with people from diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds and activities that analyze and address complex global problems. The activities can occur on and off-campus, globally through internships, capstones, study abroad, and locally through community-based experiences based on a global problem or issue or experiences in-country within a culturally different community from students' own culture.
Each higher education institution uses global learning to enhance students' intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes to communicate and act appropriately with people from other cultures. This includes understanding, respecting, and accepting different cultures and their impact on society. Students develop a global perspective through their knowledge and experiences to look at global and cultural situations from all perspectives and understand the local and global impact of their decisions.
The Global Learning VALUE Rubric was developed by a group of faculty experts from colleges and universities in the United States through the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). The rubric provides clear, essential criteria for each learning outcome and performance level that require progressively higher levels of knowledge and skills. The rubric is not used for grading and is intended only for evaluating and discussing student learning on a programmatic level across a student's entire college career. The rubric may not be the best way to assess a specific experience, course, or assignment because it is designed to be used over a long period of time. The rubric provides a basic framework for evidence of student learning so it can be shared by universities across through country and used for specific campuses, disciplines, and courses.
The Global Perspective Inventory (GPI) is a web-based tool developed at Iowa State University to assess global learning experiences and perspectives. The GPI provides a holistic approach to learning and growing by focusing on three dimensions of global learning:
The Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES) is a tool used to assess the degree to which students possess competencies critical to interacting successfully with people from different cultural backgrounds. The IES focuses on three dimensions of intercultural effectiveness that are combined to produce an Overall Intercultural Effectiveness Score. The three dimensions are:
This helps overcome students' resistance to learning because they see how they are progressing. IES also helps instructors assess students' abilities to understand what they need to do to move their learning forward. Students can also create a personal development plan based on the initial IES results and work on it for the semester.
Assessment that involves some student self-reflection is emerging as a trend.
This includes developing ePortfolios focused on enhancing student self-reflection and creating surveys specific to a course or program that combine context in the discipline and cultural knowledge. These tools can be used in conjunction with IES, GPI, or VALUE Rubric. Customized surveys will not have benchmarks outside of the program or course context, making it difficult to draw statistical inferences. Institutions that used student self-reflection and ePortfolios describe lower levels of student effort than expected.
There are several barriers or challenges to creating and implementing innovative assessments for student global learning. Faculty can be resistant to any assessment, whether it's innovative or something that's been used extensively. Faculty and staff may not understand the purpose of the assessment. Defining and clearly stating the learning outcomes is essential, so faculty understand what is being assessed. Faculty may not know how to design an effective assessment plan or understand the different assessment methods and align those methods to the learning outcome. There may also be little confidence from faculty in the new assessment tool. Faculty also need to understand how to use the assessment data in the right way.
Students must be culturally competent to be culturally responsive. Each dimension of the IES includes additional dimensions that assess intercultural competence. For example, the IES Continuous Learning dimension includes self-awareness and exploration. Self-awareness measures the level of students' awareness of their values, strengths, weaknesses, how they interact with others, their behavioral bias, and how they impact other people. Exploration assesses student's openness to cultures with ideas, values, norms, situations, and behaviors that are different from their own. It also assesses a student's desire to learn new things through new experiences and learn from their mistakes and adjust their behaviors.
The VALUE Rubric assesses student's ability to understand their local, national, and global responsibility to society and to understand and examine global challenges through respectful collaboration with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Association of American Colleges & Universities. (n.d.) Global learning VALUE
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for
higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
Iowa State University. (2015–2019). Global perspective
Kozai Group. (2012). Research studies that employed the intercultural effectiveness
Kozai Group. (2017). The intercultural effectiveness scale.
Kozai Group. (2018, October 29). Using the IES with Donna Evans [Video].
Accreditation standards are the biggest reason for increased assessment for graduate and professional programs. Regional accreditation includes assessments for all programs, including graduate and professional, but the primary focus has been on undergraduate programs. Disciplinary accreditation is more focused on assessment for graduate and professional programs, and the emphasis on outcomes assessment varies depending on the accrediting organization.
Graduate and professional programs use a variety of assessment frameworks and methods unique to each discipline. The assessments are not standardized across disciplines, and there are no minimum competencies or learning outcomes expected of graduate and professional students. There is also a lack of communication about the achievement of basic competencies for each program or profession. These factors make it very difficult to develop interprofessional competencies between programs.
Public scrutiny of higher education has increased because of the rise in student debt and the decline in employment outcomes due to the economy. New assessment methods will need to be used to justify the value of a graduate or professional degree.
In addition to the focus on accountability, health professions have a growing concern to measure entrustable professional activities (EPAs). EPAs are tasks that a trainee can perform once they attain adequate knowledge and competency so that trainees can carry out the tasks without supervision. EPAs include knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students progressively achieve. Many medical, dental, and pharmacy programs are using EPAs to assess learning outcomes. While EPAs are not currently part of the required accreditation standards, they will likely be required in the future as part of the accreditation process.
Medical, pharmacy, and dental education were some of the first programs that required specific standards and benchmarks to be met for accreditation purposes. Current assessment methods for these professional programs also include competency assessment beyond accreditation to include problem-based learning to assess critical thinking. Gleason et al. (2013) used the VALUE rubric to assess a doctor of pharmacy program. The study found this rubric to effectively assess student growth and achievement in critical thinking and problem-solving.
Graduate and professional programs can become more culturally responsive by integrating real-world experiences that involve people from different cultures and backgrounds into their curriculum and assessment process. For example, understanding different cultures and communicating with patients from different backgrounds and cultures is essential for anyone in a medical profession. The assessment process should include students’ ability to understand other cultures and backgrounds, recognize and address any inherent personal bias, and communicate with diverse populations. As described in the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (2016), establishing core competencies for interprofessional collaboration creates a taxonomy that health profession schools can share to guide curriculum development.
Association of American Colleges & Universities. (n.d.) Global learning VALUE
Gleason, B. L., Gaebelein, C. J., Grice, G. R., Crannage, A. J., Weck, M. A., Hurd, P., Walter, B., & Duncan, W. (2013). Assessment of students' critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities across a 6-year doctor of pharmacy program. (Links to an external site.) American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 77(8), 166.
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for
higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
Interprofessional Education Collaborative. (2016). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: 2016 update (PDF). (Links to an external site.)Washington, DC: Interprofessional Education Collaborative.
Guidelines For the Assessment Process
Establish goals – Goals are the outcomes or objectives we expect students to be able to do when they complete a course or program. Program goals are what we expect students to learn from all the courses within the program. Goals can also be called learning outcomes. In the Capstone course I teach the goal is for each student to be able to create a comprehensive communications plan based on their client’s needs. The plan needs to include specific components that have been taught throughout the master’s program.
Gather information – Gathering information that provides evidence of how well students are achieving the established goals of the course includes reviewing students’ assignments and talking to the students about what worked for them and what didn’t in the course. I review my students’ final communication plans to determine if they understand each component and have applied the component to their clients’ needs. This review tells me what areas students understand and the areas where they need additional support and instruction.
Taking action – Actions can be taken to improve students’ learning based on the information gathered on the achievement of course and program goals. This can include gathering additional information, changing curriculum or other aspects of the program. It can also include changing policies, funding, and planning that support learning, and faculty development. In my Capstone course, action resulting from the information gathering step includes creating a mini bootcamp for each component of the communications plan at the beginning of the course to refresh what students have already learned.
4. Assessment is a natural, scholarly act (Walford, 2010). As academics, we look for evidence to support our claims and assumptions. The data collection we are doing for our dissertation will provide evidence of what we’ve learned about our dissertation topic. My topic is the impact of COVID-19 on the college admissions process for first-generation students. My data will provide evidence that supports what I’ve learned about that impact. Assessment happens naturally as we determine what students’ work tells us about what they are learning. Assessment also provides evidence to all stakeholders that students are actually learning. These stakeholders include educators, parents, students, and administrators.
Walvoord, B. E. (2010). Assessment clear and simple: A practical guide for institutions, departments, and general education. John Wiley & Sons.
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
This paper will explore the impact of COVID-19 on higher education finances. COVID-19 is a deadly health crisis that continues to spread across the globe. As a precaution, in Spring 2020, many higher education institutions sent students home and moved their courses online or moved to a hybrid of online and in-person learning to limit the number of students on campus (Hodges et al., 2020).
The pandemic's impact was felt by everyone globally, and the number of cases and deaths continue to rise due to new variants. The number of reported cases of COVID-19 and its variants worldwide was 34 million as of August 1, 2021 (CDC Data Tracker).
Many institutions of higher education expect this disruption in learning to impact college admissions drastically. Colleges and universities anticipate a substantial decline in enrollment. Over 80 percent of university presidents surveyed by the Chronicle of Higher Education. (Friga, 2020, April 3) expect a decrease in enrollments for new and returning students. These enrollment declines could impact the finances of higher education.
Higher education institutions need to understand how the pandemic impacts their finances to plan for necessary changes to policies or processes. My institution's finances were deeply affected when the campus closed in March 2020 and students were sent home. Without the revenue from room and board, the administration made severe budget cuts to stay operational. It is imperative to determine how profound and if the effect is widespread or specific to public or private institutions. The variants in COVID-19 continue to grow despite the availability of a vaccine. As universities across the country begin to open their campuses for Fall 2021, over 625 institutions require at least some students and employees to be vaccinated before returning to campus (Thomason & O'Leary, 2021).
State appropriations have been a significant source of income for public colleges and universities. State funds have a more limited impact on private institutions. Each state determines its appropriations for higher education (Barr & McClellan, 2018).
Between 1971-72 and 2019-2020, the average cost of tuition and fees in inflation-adjusted dollars has more than tripled (DePietro, A., 2020). Yet, the net tuition has been declining over the past decade due to lower enrollments, increased tuition discounting, and more inadequate state funding due to rising costs for healthcare and a decline in tax revenues. Fewer international students enroll in higher education in the United States, and these students typically pay full tuition (Friga, P., 2021).
The number of graduating high school students is predicted to peak at 3.93 million in 2025. Projections show a steady, moderate decline for the next 12 years due to the low birthrate during the Great Recession (Seltzer, R., 2020). These numbers could change due to the pandemic. Some research has shown that the pandemic's most significant effect has been on middle school students who will be entering the college admissions process in 2025. This effect could substantially impact low-income students and students of color (Seltzer R., 2020).
Tuition & Fees
A study by Collins et al. (2021) used a literature review and existing data from the U.S. Department of Education to discuss issues related to institutions of higher education (IHEs) stability and fiscal health during the pandemic. The authors determine tuition and fees provide the most revenue for proprietary IHEs that receive funds from the United States Department of Education (ED) covered by Title IV, and two significant sources of revenue for public and nonprofit IHEs. Student enrollment drives tuition and fee revenue. Many IHEs lowered tuition and fees during the pandemic when they pivoted to virtual instruction due to pressure from students and parents. This reduction in tuition revenue will negatively impact higher education finances, even if enrollment stays the same or increases (Collins, et al., 2021).
According to the National Student Clearinghouse (NCS), postsecondary enrollment for Spring 2021 dropped by 3.5 percent, seven times more than the decline for 2020. The decline in undergraduate students was 4.9 percent, but graduate enrollment increased by 4.6 percent. The most significant decline of 5 percent was among traditional college-age students. Enrollment of students 25 years of age and older increased by 2 to 3 percent. Male students saw a more significant decline in enrollment than female students (National Student Clearinghouse (NCS), 2021). This data indicates declining enrollment will continue to be a problem for IHEs.
A study by Kim et al. (2020) used data sets from a student survey completed in April 2020 to determine the impact of COVID-19 on college enrollment. The authors conclude that students' ability to succeed in a remote-learning environment differs significantly by income levels. Over 60 percent of students from lower-income households report not getting the necessary equipment for remote learning. Almost 35 percent of students from low-income families do not have reliable internet access. Over 55 percent say their home environment does not support remote learning.
International student enrollment in higher education is declining. There is an expectation that a significant number of students attending an out-of-state institution will transfer to in-state or nearby public institutions due to the economic impact of the pandemic on their family's finances (DePietro, 2020).
Koch (2020) compares the short-term impacts of the pandemic on higher education to the impact Hurricane Katrina had on college enrollment using data from 33 public institutions inside the disaster areas of those regions. Enrollment decreased across all public institutions and was still under the pre-hurricane levels in 2008-2009, despite an immediate increase in state appropriations. Research universities fared better than other institutions because they relied significantly more on grant funding, not tuition or state appropriations (Koch, 2020).
Blankenberg et al. (2020) use Gaus's ecological approach to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on higher education. This approach identifies catastrophic events as change agents that force systems to react to achieve a new equilibrium. Because of COVID-19, higher education had to shift from traditional delivery to distance instruction. The switch to online learning is also a mitigating factor of COVID-19. Some institutions already use online education but will need to expand and adjust what they already do. For other institutions, they will need to adapt at a larger capacity. Large-scale studies of community college students have shown that students with lower GPAs, males, and African American students suffer steep declines in fully online courses. Enrollment declines could escalate these inequities, especially for students of lower socioeconomic status. The study concludes that universities need to be prepared to deliver additional services for online learning to address the potential adverse outcomes.
Hands (2020) looks at the impact of the abrupt transition to online education for FGCS due to COVID-19, focusing on the students' cultural assets instead of a deficit lens. The six cultural assets are reflexivity, optimism, academic resilience, goal-orientation, civic-mindedness, and proactivity. The author discusses issues confronting FGCS, including the digital divide where there is no access to reliable internet or a computer. The article uses the concept of community cultural wealth (CCW) as its theoretical frame of reference for giving structure to how educators and libraries can draw on FGCS assets during times of transition. Suggestions for librarians include building alliances with trusted staff and advisors to educate staff within FGCS' networks on library resources; partnering with faculty to create assignments using transparent assignment design; creating opportunities where students can reflect on how their research process has changed due to sudden online-only access; and working with FGCS to share with their peers' tips and tricks based on their post-transition library, research and online experiences.
State revenue has declined during the pandemic, according to Collins et al., (2021). State appropriations for higher education were significantly less after the recession of 2008, indicating that the economic slowdown can negatively impact state funding for public IHEs for years. Current funding for higher education in ten states is lower than the funding in 2010, according to a new survey of state higher-education agencies conducted by New America and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (Nguyen et al., 2020). There are 32 states that have yet to increase higher education funding to the pre-recession levels of 2008. Depressed economic activity and increased costs due to the pandemic have affected state funding for public higher education. The level of impact on state funding for higher education varies widely between states. Some states have not seen a significant change in higher education funding. Other states have had made deep cuts to their upcoming budget or are waiting for another federal stimulus package before finalizing the state budget. The information in the survey will change as new state revenue numbers are determined and if an additional federal stimulus package is approved (Nguyen et al., 2020).
In contrast, federal revenue for IHEs increased during the pandemic. The CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, provided $36 billion in emergency federal revenue to IHEs and students (Collins et al., 2021). However, the amount of additional federal funds allocated in the CARES Act is significantly less than what is needed to meet the financial needs of higher education institutions. For example, the University of Arizona received $16.7 million in federal money not earmarked for students but has sustained a loss of $66 million in revenue due to the pandemic (Miller, 2020).
Implications for Policy and Practice
The impact of COVID-19 on higher education finances is ongoing, and the total effect is not yet clearly defined. The new Delta variants and return to mask mandates and possibly other safety precautions could cause continue economic distress. State revenue is down due to the pandemic and will most likely result in lower state appropriations for higher education. Some states' funding for higher education has not recovered from the 2008 recession. Public universities will be most impacted by decreases in state funding and need to determine other revenue streams.
Enrollment is the number one driver of tuition dollars, and it has decreased during the pandemic and may continue to decline. Getting back to pre-COVID enrollment may take years. The low birthrate from the recession of 2008 will lower the number of high school graduates beginning in 2026, resulting in lower enrollments in higher education. Middle school students seem to be more affected by the pandemic, and these are students who will be part of the college admissions process beginning in 2025.
Many institutions discounted tuition and fees during the pandemic resulting in less revenue due to the pivot to online learning. Room and board and other auxiliary income were eliminated when campuses closed and institutions sent students home.
The transition to online learning impacted students' ability to succeed academically. The financial impact of the pandemic on families and the issues with online learning may force some students to transfer from out-of-state institutions to state institutions closer to home.
Federal funding increased during the pandemic, but not enough to offset the costs institutions incurred. There may be another federal stimulus package for higher education, but there is no guarantee.
The first step would be to develop a new funding model for higher education. In Holland, Michigan, the President of Hope College suggests moving to fully fund tuition through the school's endowment (Burns, 2021). This new model is based on philanthropy and asking graduates to give back to the school. Hope College is a Christian school, and generosity and giving are part of its culture. The new model will pay for 22 students' tuition this fall at the cost of $806,300. The benefit of free education allowed the college to recruit and attract students from geographic regions it does not draw from (Burns, 2021).
The second step would be to ensure each state determines the amount of state funding for higher education and continues to drive equity in access to higher education. A report on equitable funding and financing in the COVID era suggests that state funding for higher education should be determined by each state and based on the impact on low-income students and students of color (Lumina Foundation, 2020). This funding model will ensure equity in college admissions if cuts are made. The report suggests several policies and practices to guide states in this process:
Research should be conducted on how higher education institutions successfully increased enrollment and revenue during the 2008 recession. Knowing what worked in the past may help institutions recover economically from the pandemic.
Research should also be conducted on how the pandemic affected students' access to higher education. Understanding the barriers and challenges underserved, low-income students faced during the pandemic will give higher education institutions the information they need to change policies, programs, and procedures to serve these students better and ensure equity to the admissions process.
Research should continue to be conducted on institutions that are implementing new budget models that are not based on increased state funding. This research will provide best practices for other universities to determine what might work for them.
Barr, M.J., & McLellan, G.S. (2018). Budgets and financial management in higher education (3rd
Burns, H. (2021, July 19). Private college president thinks higher ed's business model is
broken – and he has a proposal to fix it. The Business Journals.
CDC COVID Data Tracker. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2021, from
Collins, B., Fountain J.H., Dortch, C. (2021). The covid-19
pandemic and institutions of higher education: Contemporary issues.
(CRS Report No. R46666, Version 2). Congressional Research Service. https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/R46666.html
Hodges, D., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020). The difference between
emergency remote teaching and online learning. EDUCAUSE Review. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teachingand-online-learning
Lumina Foundation (2020, November 10). Higher ed policy in the COVID era: Equitable
funding and financing. https://www.luminafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/equity-funding-and-financing.pdf
Maxim, R., & Muro, M. (2021, July 29). Supporting distressed communities by
strengthening regional public universities: A federal policy proposal. Brookings.
Miller, B. (2020, May 11). A better formula for higher education's federal coronavirus
spending. Center for American Progress.
National Student Clearing House Current Term Enrollment Estimates. (2021, June 10).
Nguyen, S., Fishman, R., Weeden, D., & Harnisch, T. (2021). The impact of COVID-19
on state higher education budgets: a tracker of responses from state higher
education systems and agencies. New America. https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/reports/state-budget-cuts
Seltzer, R., (2020, December 15). More high school graduates through 2025, but pool
still shrinks afterward. Inside Higher Education.
Thomason, A., & O'Leary, B. (2021, July 30). Here's a list of colleges that require
students or employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19. The Chronicle of
The performance-based funding (PBF) model ties state funding for higher education to measurable outputs to create incentives for colleges to improve degree completion. Each state using the PBF model design their unique policy and implementation process. This study examines whether minority-serving institutions (MSIs) experience changes in state funding levels due to PBF. MSIs traditionally serve students of color, students who attended inequitable K-12 school systems, and students that come from families facing generations of labor market discrimination. The history of inequity in funding for MSIs has impacted their ability to provide services to students of color. As a result, state and federal efforts that support MSIs have been put in place to increase equity and access to higher education for students of color. Research shows that the degree completion rate of MSIs and non-MSI institutions are very similar.
The study uses a quantitative methodology to create a data set of 4-year public institutions from 2005 through 2015, identifying and coding 114 MSIs by the U.S. Department of Education's 2014-2015 College Scorecard designations. Several key findings of the research include the following:
I was surprised that there is not a specific design for PBF. For the PBF model to work for MSIs, it needs to be implemented in the same way across all states for all institutions. Otherwise, there is potential for MSIs to be negatively impacted, and the inequity in access to higher education will continue to grow. PBF also incentivizes institutions to admit more students and marginally qualified students to be rewarded. Increasing enrollment can impact the success of these students because the necessary infrastructure to support them may not be in place. More students of any kind mean more services. Institutions need to ensure they have programs in place for these students to be successful and to graduate. This need for programs is especially true for MSIs. These students need equal access to higher education and additional support once they are admitted making their transition more manageable and for them to be successful.
Hillman, N. & Corral, Daniel. (2018). The equity implications of paying for performance in higher education. American Behavioral Scientist, 61 (14), 1757-1772.
Most boards of trustees of higher education institutions use shared governance as the cornerstone of their work. However, shared governance can be challenging to put into practice because the stakeholders may not understand what shared governance means or what their role is in the process. Faculty and trustees have unique perspectives on shared governance and are often not on the same page (Bahls, 2014; J.M. Fohr, personal communication, May 28, 2020). Some trustees may have served on other boards that held a very different view of shared governance from their current board affiliation. Many trustees do not have any formal higher education administration experience. Faculty may not understand how shared governance was designed to work at their institution. All stakeholders must understand the specific meaning of shared governance and their role in the process for the board to be successful.
The first step in developing a successfully shared governance process is to make sure the board members, administrators, and faculty understand what shared governance is and their expectations for the process to work (Bahls, 2014). All stakeholders need to be on the same page for shared governance to occur. Defining what shared governance means should be part of every onboarding process for new board members. In addition, faculty and the institution's leadership need to have the same definition of shared governance as the board to work together successfully.
Trustees should understand the board and administration's different roles in shared governance (Association of Governing Boards and Colleges (ABG), n.d.). The different roles should be clearly defined to determine how the board, faculty, and administration can achieve a common goal. Each stakeholder has different perspectives that need to be respected and given consideration in the decision-making process. In a perfect world, the board provides fiduciary oversight for the institution, the president's primary responsibility is to manage the institution, and the faculty oversees academic programs. Unfortunately, this does not always happen and is usually a result of the stakeholders not understanding what shared governance means and their role in the process.
Colleges and universities that have a successful process for shared governance perform much better during times of extreme change than other institutions (Hass, 2020). Successful shared governance includes maintaining open lines of communication, consulting stakeholders with the appropriate expertise in the decision process, and being transparent in sharing information. The administration needs to be open and honest about the financial state of the institution. Diversity of thought and perspective also needs to be part of the process to ensure that all stakeholders feel their voices have been heard. This type of shared governance builds trust in the decision-making process and makes solutions more thoughtful, and the implementation process works faster (Bahls, 2014).
One of the ten habits of highly effective boards includes establishing a strong governance committee to ensure the board is effective (Legon, 2014). This committee is critical to board structure and accountability, especially for private institutions. Part of the committee's responsibilities should be to ensure the board recruits and appoints new trustees with an eye for experience and expertise to enhance the board's ability to perform. Higher education is changing rapidly due to the pandemic, and trustees must have the knowledge and expertise to address the critical issues facing higher education. This committee is an excellent tool to use to monitor and improve board performance.
The ABG also suggests that boards develop a renewed commitment to shared governance (ABG, n.d.). All stakeholders must be part of the governance process to establish a sense of teamwork and collaboration. Boards should consistently assess their performance by engaging all stakeholders for feedback. Soliciting feedback can be done through the governance committee previously mentioned and conducting surveys or workshops with the administration, faculty, and the board. This collaborative assessment will ensure that all stakeholders understand what shared governance is and their role in the process. The evaluation is also an opportunity for critical issues to be addressed and to build trust between all stakeholders. Faculty need to know their voices are being heard, and the administration and the board support them.
Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. (n.d.) Principles of trusteeship.
Bahls, Steven C. (2014). How to make shared governance work: Some best practices.
Hass, Marjorie. (2020, April 29). Colleges with healthy shared governance perform better in
crises than those with top-down decision making (opinion). Inside Higher Ed.
Legon, Richard D., (2014). The 10 habits of highly effective boards. Trusteeship 22(2),