The Impact of Management Decision-making on Student Success in Community Colleges: A Case Study
Albert G. Alt, Ed.D
Drexel University, May 10, 2012
Chairperson: Kathy Dee Geller
This case study examined a multi-college community college district in northern California in a primarily rural area, to understand how their practices compared to management best practices designed to improve student success, barriers that may exist in implementing best practices, and how the institution may improve its own practices.
The problem stated in this research is as follows: Despite low degree completion and transfer rates, current management philosophies in California community colleges place priority on access over student success; leading to the purpose of this study: to investigate management decision-making as it relates to improving student success in community college.
The research study was conducted as a qualitative case study to collect and compare data among the executives, faculty, and students regarding their views of student success. The case study method provided the opportunity for triangulation of data from multiple sources of evidence, as this study utilized document collection, field observations and notes, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups for data collection.
The research methodology resulted in five distinct findings as follows: a) management decisions have been primarily budget focused and reactionary, b) leadership focus in the area of student success has been lacking, c) the institution offers a wide array of programs for at-risk populations, d) these programs are not well integrated, and e) the institution has not developed a practice of using data for decision making.
Six recommendations for action emerged from the data collection and findings as follows: 1) Assess the impact of the vision statement on the outcomes to the institution; 2) Develop an institutional definition of student success and stakeholder discussions and incorporate the definition into the governance structure within the institution; 3) Develop a framework for management decision-making consistent with the Board vision statement; 4) Utilize standardized data to evaluate all programs, services, and decisions within the institution; 5) Develop a multi-year agenda for achieving student success; and 6) Develop full integration of student services programs across the institution.
These findings and recommendations are significant in that there are relatively few studies on effective management practices that improve student success in California Community Colleges.