Student success is often understood as engagement, persistence, completion and graduation before exploring the fields of employment. This process is a central focus for this paper because it tries to find out how students overcome barriers to their success. Theoretical and research exploration of the conception has increased with much focus on how college attendance increases student success in life. The literature in this paper focuses on how college education contributes to student success. It is known that over the past 20 years, universities, colleges and private educational institutions have considerably invested in resources and implementation of programs that increase college completion with an aim of achieving student success. The article uses data from a survey done on students reentering college to find out whether college reentry enhances student success. The findings emphasize how college education increases an individual’s chances of becoming successful in life.
All countries increasingly expect college institutions, students and educators to contribute highly to the national and economic development of a country. The major aspect of this demand is students’ success which is often understood as increasing participation, achieving greater results by completing courses and managing to get a pass to employment. A successful student will in the end develop a positive attitude to a long life learning experience. Several researches have been done extensively on student success in the U.S. Most of the researches done have investigated terms of retention and completion of college education. They have also looked at how creatively students engage with their studies including their engagement with activities that are likely to produce high quality learning.
There are varied findings with regard to student success and it can be observed that most of them have been carried out from sociological, organizational, cultural, social networks, psychological, economic and cultural perspectives. Despite engaging in one of these perspectives, it is stated in the research that no perspective may be comprehensive enough to account for all the factors affecting student educational success. Student success is, therefore, a complex construct that can be measurable by quantifiable outcomes such as completion, retention and re-entering college. Re-entering college will only enhance student success when students develop good relationships within the school community, have values, and habits that make them understand that they are members of a group.
- My family supports me studying
- Social activities interfere with my study
- My friends don’t want me to study
- Work commitments make re-entry education difficult
- Cultural commitments interfere with my study
- My family has high expectations of me
- Membership of social, sporting, cultural groups affects my study
- I organize myself to succeed in my study
- Finances make it hard for me to study
- Health issues affect the time I have for study
- My boss wants me to succeed in my study
- Commitments to my religion affect my study
The biggest challenge in student education is not simply motivation of learners, but the act of continuing to engage , inspire and hold the attention of students helps them be active when they re-enter learning institution. Social learning theory and its practical application will be explored as a mean of improving student success within ethnographical framework (Fitz, Taylor & Pugsley, 2005). This is because the theory offers a more interactive and guided environment rather than a dictated learning procedure. This method enhances instructional shift from dictatorship to a more guided formula that is student centered. Students re-entering college will, therefore, be in a learning environment where they will be able to control their learning experiences.
Theory of Methods
Since student success is a complex matter, a number of theories will be used alongside social theory to survey the research. The first lens would be on Tinto’s interactions model of student departure (Tinto, 1993). The theory suggests that when students are admitted for college education, they leave their culture different from a new academic oriented culture. Those students who fail to come back for more education will not have succeeded fully in integrating into the new culture. It is, therefore, necessary for institutions to facilitate the transitions students’ face of adjusting to the new culture. Tinto’s idea of integration emphasizes on students proper adjustment into the already existing culture. This theory contains a better position in explaining factors that lead to student success.
The second theory concerns the influence of student background on success. This will include factors such as socio-economic status, parental education, congruence between institutional and familial culture (this means that the students with higher socio-economic status are likely to succeed than students from low socio-economic status), lack of cultural capital for integration, interpersonal skills and non traditional personalities (Harper, Carini & Bridges, 2004). Socio-economic status seems to have a greater impact on student success.
The third lens will focus on a student’s personal engagement with the formal study. Engagement in this case would mean focusing on the transactions taking place between instructors, students and institutional culture through emotional commitment, active participation, and cognitive investment in learning (Chapman, 2003). By engagement, it should be noted that the role teacher’s play is important. Teacher’s behaviors, attitudes and beliefs have greater effects on learning. For example, when teachers are approachable, sensitive and well prepared, students would be more committed to be successful (Mearns et al, 2007).
The fourth lens focuses on student activities that recognize the relationship between economic and social conditions with formal learning. Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) found out the priorities students give to studies. He says that students who increasingly study part time, seem to appear less engaged than those who study full time. For example Krause et al (2005), writes that, in Australia, some 57% of students said that their works interfered with academic performance. Such paid workers expect studies to fit in their lives rather than allowing themselves to fit in educational expectations. To be successful students must engage with institutions and as they re-enter colleges, the institutions must address challenges posed by the group (Yorke, 2006).
Attempting to gauge student success when they re-enter school, the paper draws data that was gathered in a project initiated by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative. The research was conducted in New Zealand as a multiple case study that included institutions of higher education. The research suggested that student success required more than one theoretical analysis. That is why, teachers and students were interviewed. The students were given questionnaires having in mind Hu and Han’s perception of self reporting (2003). They assert that self reporting will only be valid if they meet conditions such as, when the respondents know the conditions requested, whether the questions merit a serious response from the respondent’s point of view and whether the questions are phrased clearly and explicitly. Success was not drown out to them clearly since it was expected of them to use soft and hard outcomes goals as gauging tools. Survey instruments were distributed to the case study institution to a group of fist time enrolled students as well as those who have re-entered to further their education to the next level. Gender, age, and ethnicity were major determiners when giving out the instruments.
The questionnaires contained four parts that sough to know levels of motivations and urgency, demographic information, institutional influences when re-entering colleges as well as institutional cultures and teacher’s involvement in student success. Some parts of the questionnaire were sort to find out the 12 Likert type items about the family, social, personal effects, cultural and employment effect on success (Harper, Carini & Bridges, 2004). Two subscales were used with asking students the following, “to what extent do they agree with the 12 statements.” The other scale sort to know how each instrument affected student success. Following this criteria it was important to ask students opinion about the items and secondly to sort their view on the issues affecting them personally. The article as such tried to find out through the instruments how students from the age of 20 and above in New Zealand succeeded after re-entry into the education system. The re-entry was studied putting in mind effects on part and full timers performances.
Findings and Interpretations
Being a multicultural nation, New Zealand works within a bicultural constitutional framework highlighting formal partnership agreement that was stipulated in the treaty of 1840 about the indigenous community of the Pakeha and Maori the indigenous community. The European community that benefited from colonization has now outnumbered the natives. They are better educated and wealthy. The Pasifika group shares with the Maori a desirable educational success. The two groups together with the European community in New Zealand formed the research group that the article was based upon. It has, therefore, become a priority for groups to identify success patterns of these groups and at the same time recognize the cultural ideologies forming their basis. College re-entry has historically and politically brought success to the fore of the discussion. The major impact on college re-entry influence on student’s studies and successes was found to be moderate. Despite this, data collected by other projects highlighted that student motivation and teacher’s influence significantly outstripped the success achieved by college re-entry (Zepke et al, 2009). On the contrary, family support and self organization influenced the success arising from both points of view.
Both outcomes are supported by Krause et al’s (2005) finding in Australia where 22% of part time students and 43% of full time students relied greatly on their families for material support. Student success on re-entry into college will also be affected by the family. Lack of support from families was the main reason of refusal to re-enter college. On the other hand, foundation students start education by fully relying on support from families to help them with resources to complete their courses. It is also from this point of view that we can say that for one to think about going back to college for more certificates, they must be fully or partially supported by their families.
To succeed, many of the individuals studying relied on the self will but a half of the items reviewed showed moderate influence affecting student success. The items here were finances and work commitments the student might have. Finances played a major part in student re-entry to college and majorly played a role in student disengagement but it did not affect student success. Cultural commitment and re-entering into college had moderate means. This suggested that few people perceived it to affect success of the students. The low cultural effect on success of the student re-entry into colleges was surprising as it was assumed that cultural obligations are understood to be playing major part in student success in Maori and Pasifika communities (Bennet, 2001). The low score seen on the effect of cultural impact might have resulted from the approach adopted for the research.
Currently, universities, colleges and states or private foundations have invested highly in developing and implementing programs that increase learner success. They have made it possible for students to not only finish a single level, but to re-enter colleges and learning institutions for other courses that would enhance better job opportunities. This happens because efforts placed i.e. learning centers and seminars do not improve student success since it happens at the margins of the classroom. It should be noted that many students majorly in community colleges, more often than not commute to college and to work. They may attend either the school or work on a part time basis. For this group, the classroom would be the only place where they meet different groups of people and engage in learning activities. Their success would, therefore, be built on classroom success since they will be attending one class and a single course at a time. If the efforts made by the institution does not relate to social learning and encourage classroom success, then the group may fail to be successful. To succeed, instructors should take advantage of the ethnic diversity of students in order to socially engage them in studies. The major aspect of this demand is student success which is often understood as increasing participation, achieving greater levels by completing courses and managing to get a pass to employment.
A successful student will in the end develop a positive attitude to a long life learning experience. Several researches have been done extensively on student success in the U.S. Most of the research done have investigated terms of retention and completion of college education. They have also looked at how creatively students engage with their studies including their engagement with activities that are likely to produce high quality learning (Kuh et al, 2006).). There are varied findings with regards to student success and it can be observed that most of them have been carried out from sociological, organizational, cultural, social networks, psychological, economic and cultural perspectives. Despite engaging in one of these perspectives, it is listed in the research carried out that no perspective may be comprehensive enough to account for all the factors affective student educational success.
It is known that over the past 20 years, universities, colleges and private educational institutions have considerably invested in resources and implementation of programs that increase college completion with an aim of achieving student success. The main aim of attending school is not only for students to socialize but the main aim is to enable students to be successful in the education system (Fitz et al, 2005). The data above was from a survey done on students reentering college. The findings emphasized on how college education increased an individual’s chances of becoming successful in life. Student success is driven, in part, by future expectation the faculty may have from the students and the expectations students have from themselves. Success is not only influenced by clarity and consistency, but also by the levels students put across. High expectation on success is a condition for student success while low expectation is a route to failure. School expectations on success are normally communicated to students. This may be implicitly passed through assignments, course management sites, syllabuses, grading metrics and conversations. Students are, therefore, expected in their re-entry to college to adjust their behaviors according to the expectations of the school in order to succeed.
Being a complex construct, student success and re-entry into college will be understood in a variety of ways. Success is important to most governments because they demand evidence of student academic success as a tangible outcome of college re-entry. Nevertheless, there are several factors that impact the student success. Following the different lenses identified above, it is suggested that institutions and instructors as well as student re-enter the colleges to improve student success. Within the colleges, when students are integrated into academic cultures, they will adopt institutional cultures that will help them to develop the required cultural capital to succeed. Reentry into the already known culture will enable them engage in learning by developing constructive relationships between themselves and the institution. They will be able to find ways of succeeding despite the diversity of family backgrounds.
Attempting to gauge student success when they reenter school, the paper used the data that was gathered in a project funded by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative. The research done in New Zealand acted as the multiple case study that included institutions of higher education. The research based its opinion on the fact that student success required more than one theoretical analysis as such teachers and students were interviewed on different aspects including how college reentry affected their performance. The students were given questionnaires having in mind Hu and Han’s perception of self reporting (2003).
Using the survey consisting of 1246 responses from the institutions stipulated above, it was identified that re-entry into college had a moderate influence on student success. On the contrary, family support, personal study and motivations were found to have exercised a marginal impact on student success. The overall idea that college reentry controls were moderate rather than profound was confirmed by the way populations clustered closely together on the middle segment of the strength of continuum. College reentry should, therefore, be considered when factors impacting student success are explained. On the other hand, when learners are affected by family issues, heath, financial issues, religious and cultural commitments, they tend to give their studies less concentration and thus their chances of success are negatively affected. Throughout the research, students seemed not to be affected by external factors in a number of ways. This happened because the factors have a major impact during crisis conditions.
Social learning theory and its practical application was explored as a mean of improving student success within ethnographical framework. The theory was used because it offered more interactive and guided environment rather than a dictated learning procedure. The method enhanced instructional shift from dictatorship to a more guided formula that is student centered. Students reentering college were, therefore, in a learning environment where they were able to control their learning experiences by themselves.
Consequently, there were significant differences in ways college reentry was affected, in particular, the way students from Pasifika were affected. For instructors, there is a number of lessons they can learn when working in higher education. First of all, they should be able to understand that student success is affected y a number of factors among them is college reentry. Secondly, subpopulation in an educational institution is affected in different ways and finally, some populations like that of Pasifika in the study conducted are affected more than the others. Instructors should be mindful of these factors as they try to strive to contribute to student success. When conducting further research on this topic, researchers should have in mind that student success is a complex construct that can only be measurable by quantifiable outcomes such as completion, retention and re-entering college. However, reentering college will only enhance student success when students develop good relationships within the school community, have values, and habits that make them understand that they are members of one school community.