The meaning of student success differs according to the goals, interests and roles among prospective students, their parents and extended family, educators, scholars, employers, legislators and other stakeholders. Despite this wide variation, accountability for student success has been mostly equated with readily available measures like degree completion rates, time to degree and credit accumulation. Recently, especially in the United States, where the student assumes a large cost burden for attending college, interest has increased regarding the amount of debt incurred and the employment and wages obtained post-graduation to enable students to pay off that debt. There are many from within and outside the academy who criticize these simplistic measures of student success and seek evidence about how a college education develops students intellectually and morally, preparing them to lead lives as productive citizens and members of the 21st Century workforce. In this article, we review the key concepts of student success that have emerged from the U.S. higher education research literature, as well as major U.S. policy initiatives related to improving student success. The purpose of this analysis is to develop an organizing framework that enables scholars and policy makers to place their work within a broader context as related to the discourse on student success in the early 21st Century, especially within the United States, but with increasingly common elements internationally.
BologniniRose and KellyMakoweicki. 2014. Education at a Glance 2014. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developmenthttp://www.oecd.org/unitedstates/UnitedStates-EAG2014-Country-Note.pdf.
D’AugelliAnthony R.“Identity Development and Sexual Orientation: Toward a Model of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Development.” In Human Diversity: Perspectives on People in Context312-333 eds. Edison J.TrickettRoderick J.Watts and DinaBirman. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass1994.
EwellPeter and JaneWellmanEnhancing Student Success in Education: Summary Report of the NPEC Initiative and National Symposium on Postsecondary Student Success.Washington DC: National Postsecondary Education Cooperative2007https://nces.ed.gov/npec/pdf/Ewell_Report.pdf.
KingPatricia M. and Karen. S.Kitchener. “The Reflective Judgment Model: Twenty Years of Epistemic Cognition.” In Personal Epistemology: The Psychology of Beliefs about Knowledge and Knowing37-62 eds. Barbara K.Hofer and Paul R.Pintrich. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates2002.
KohlbergLawrence. “Stages of Moral Development as a Basis for Moral Education.” In Moral Education23-92 eds. Clive BeckBrian S. Crittenden and Edmund V.Sullivan. Toronto: University of Toronto Press1970.
KuhGeorge. D.JillianKinzieJennifer A.BuckleyBrian K.Bridges and John C.HayekWhat Matters to Student Success: A Review of the Literature. Washington DC: National Postsecondary Education Cooperative2006. https://nces.ed.gov/npec/pdf/kuh_team_report.pdf.
MayhewMatthew. J.Alyssa N.RockenbachNicholas A.BowmanTricia A.Seifert and Gregory C.Wolniak. How College Affects Students (Volume 3): 21st Century Evidence that Higher Education Works.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass2016.
PaceC. Robert. Measuring the Quality of College Student Experiences: An Account of the Development and Use of the College Student Experiences Questionnaire. Los Angeles, CA: Higher Education Research Institute1984.
PernaLaura W. and Scott L.Thomas. A Framework for Reducing the College Success Gap and Promoting Success for All. Washington DC: National Postsecondary Education Cooperative2006. https://nces.ed.gov/npec/pdf/Perna_Thomas_Report.pdf
PhinneyJean S.“A Three-Stage Model of Ethnic Identity Development in Adolescence.” In Ethnic Identity: Formation and Transmission among Hispanics and Other Minorities61-79 eds. Martha E.Bernal and George P.Knight. New York: State University of New York Press1993.
SmartJohn C.Kenneth A.Feldman and Corinna. A.Ethington. Holland’s Theory and Patterns of College Student Success. Washington DC: National Postsecondary Education Cooperative2006. https://nces.ed.gov/npec/pdf/Smart_Team_Report.pdf.
StephensNicole. M.Stephanie A.Fryberg and Hazel R.Markus“When Choice Does Not Equal Freedom: Analysis of Agency in Working-Class American Contexts.”Social Psychological and Personality Science2no. 1 (2011): 33-41.
TintoVincent and BrianPusser. Moving from Theory to Action: Building a Model of Institutional Action for Student Success. Washington DC: National Postsecondary Education Cooperative2006. https://nces.ed.gov/npec/pdf/Tinto_Pusser_Report.pdf.
WellmanJane V.“Connecting the Dots Between Learning and Resources.”NILOA Occasional Paper No. 3Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment2010. http://www.learningoutcomeassessment.org/documents/Wellman-Occasional%20Paper%203%2010-20.pdf.