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Redesigning a Student Success Course for Sustained Impact: Early Outcomes Findings

By: Melinda Mechur Karp, Julia Raufman, Chris Efthimiou & Nancy Ritze


Many community colleges offer a "student success" course—also known as College 101 or Introduction to College—as a means to help incoming students transition to college and become successful. The typical course is meant to provide key information and address important noncognitive skills and behavioral expectations with the goal of familiarizing students with the college environment and giving them the tools they need to build important competencies, persist in college, and earn a credential. This paper examines the efforts of Bronx Community College in implementing a redesigned student success course called First Year Seminar (FYS), which is intended to better support students than a typical student success course by incorporating academic content, skill-building exercises, and applied teaching pedagogies, among other features, into the course.

Based on both qualitative and quantitative analysis, this study finds that FYS participation is associated with positive student outcomes that appear to be sustained for a longer period of time than what is typically found for students taking a traditional student success course. The focus of FYS on student-centered pedagogy and on integrated course content appears to be beneficial. The findings also suggest that when students have the opportunity to practice student success and basic academic skills within the context of an improved student success course, they are likely to apply those skills in future courses, potentially increasing their long-term educational attainment.

A version of this paper appears in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 41, no. 1.