Student engagement: Key to academic success

As each new semester arrives, it offers students a host of social and academic possibilities.  These include a range of majors from which to choose, as well as a myriad of clubs to eagerly join.  Additionally, competitive and intramural sports abound along with theatrical performances and musical ensembles in which to participate.    

A strange stirring seems to slowly occur over time, as many students, particularly at two-year community colleges, navigate their student experience.  In essence, studies show that student engagement can wither as students settle into the college routine.  The student experience at Kirkwood also mirrors this nation-wide trend.

 Research from the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin indicates that when students are actively involved with their peers and engage with both faculty and staff, particularly in their field of study, they tend to be more successful academically and are prone “to persist in their college studies.”  

Moreover, CCCSE’s findings indicate a correlation between student engagement, professional development, overall learning and retention.  Sharing a similar philosophy, Kirkwood Community College recently made a commitment to foster engagement among its student body with the opening of its new student center – a hub for social involvement and academic success.  

 Like many two-year colleges similar in size and demographic, administrators at the college hope to shape the student experience and increase engagement levels among its students by providing a unique place housed at the center of campus to strengthen the social components of attaining an education as well as the academic aspects.  

This includes students’ ability to foster relationships with their peers and faculty, participate in extracurricular activities and feel a general sense of connectedness to their academic environments.  

As a result, students now have access to a “one-stop” engagement hub with student support services, expansive areas for study beyond the traditional library setting, inclusive spaces for cultural groups and veterans and prayer rooms, as well as common spaces to gather with peers for a simple meal outside of class. CCCSE describes these recent additions to the college as some of the “front door” experiences aimed at creating positive “first impressions” students experience to help them navigate with ease through a streamlined admissions, financial aid and registration processes that can often be a complex ordeal for some students.  

Considering these factors, it is commendable that administrators at Kirkwood have taken intentional steps to create a platform to foster engagement, which is critical to success, among their students. As a result, they hope to reshape the entire student experience.

Categories: Opinion, Staff Editorials