Victor M. H. Borden and Gretchen C. Holthaus

Abstract

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.

Le Chen

Abstract

Social Practice (SP) is a type of educational activity with “Chinese characteristic,” and it is widespread and accessible in China’s higher education institutions. This paper explores the features of Social Practice participants and the impacts of these practices on college student learning outcomes with quantitative data collected through the “China College Student Survey” (CCSS) Project. In particular, the paper examines three types of social practices (Academic Social Practice, Professional Social Practice, and Service Social Practice) and their impacts on student self-reported gains in knowledge, skills, and values. The study finds that: a) more than 70% college students have social practice experience, and another 26% intend to participate before graduation; b) engaging in social practice is statistically significantly correlated with self-reported improvement in all kinds of learning outcomes; c) the impact varies by the type of practices and student level of engagement. These findings suggest that it is beneficial for students to engage in social practice during college. Higher education institutions should provide students with opportunities to participate in different types of social practices.

Kelly E. Matthews

Abstract

Student success is of the upmost importance across the global higher education sector with a wealth of rich scholarship demonstrating the complexity of influences and factors that shape success. This article acknowledges that complexity and focuses on how students perceive, and partner in, shaping notions of their learning success through an analysis of two in-depth case studies. I draw on the theoretical framework of students as partners in learning and teaching. Broader implications are articulated followed by a specific focus on cross-cultural partnership from the perspective of a Chinese student partner. I argue that higher education scholars researching student success and learning outcomes should take seriously the perceptions of students to inform practice and policy, while also partnering with students in our own research to more genuinely comprehend the complexities of student success.

Kenneth Moore

Abstract

The current research explores links between university productivity and student success in Australia. Interviews were conducted with 15 stakeholders and experts on the topic of higher education productivity. The research uses qualitative methods to identify instances when participants discussed institutional productivity in conjunction with student success factors. Four common themes emerged that linked institutional productivity to student success: “Student experience and engagement,” “attrition, retention and progression,” “cross-subsidies,” and “teaching-research effort.” Findings reveal two feasible options for improving productivity estimation for the education function of universities. Findings also reveal leverage points for intervention to improve student success and productivity. The research highlights where mutual interests lie for managing resources and facilitating better student outcomes.

Adrianna Kezar and Elizabeth Holcombe

Abstract

While numerous support programs have evolved to support underrepresented students in higher education, these programs are often disconnected from the curriculum and only target one area of student need. Emerging research indicates that integrated programs which combine multiple curricular and co-curricular supports may be a more effective way to support historically underserved students. In this article, we report on one such integrated program in the United States, CSU STEM Collaboratives. We describe how integrated programs benefit students as well as the broader campus community by creating a unified community of support that fosters collaboration and connection.

Umesha Weerakkody and Emeline Jerez

Abstract

The international higher education market is currently witnessing a fast growth. As a vital component in the sector, international students aspire to be successful in their higher education endeavours. Within this context, student success, already a highly contested term in the field, takes a different outlook when discussed in relation to international students. This paper focuses on the meaning of international student success and the mechanisms through which this concept has been made functional by the higher education sector. Working with definitions of student success, the paper first looks at student success as it means to international students, in line with their distinctive circumstances. In the second half, factors that impact international student success are reviewed in relation to current policy instruments across leading international higher education markets. The paper concludes by pointing out important implications and quality assurance challenges in enhancing the international students’ experience abroad.

Hamish Coates

Abstract

Demand for higher education keeps growing, making it more important to create new insights into what and how people succeed. Student success is a large topic which researchers and practitioners approach in a large array of ways. To advance this field of eight leading researchers contribute insights and perspectives through articles which take stock of pressing problems and emerging developments. The researchers explore politics, international dynamics, student perspectives, institutional configurations, curriculum characteristics, economics, and educational practices. The findings are relevant to Chinese higher education, and to other systems around the world.

Rubby Dhunpath and Reshma Subbaye

Abstract

Student success is an elusive aspiration in South Africa, especially for its majority African population as the country continues to endure the imprints of a racially divided higher education system. This article will critically examine various reform initiatives designed to enhance student success since 2004. The authors will demonstrate that despite successive efforts and increasing resources directed at enhancing student success, the outcomes have been minimal, largely because student failure has been pathologized as a function of student deficits rather than a consequence of systemic dysfunction, especially as it relates to the curriculum. We concede that while the impediments to student success are multifarious, using the affordances of technology to institute a less alienating curriculum structure, alongside a review of content, can catalyse the process of reform to reverse current student outcomes.

Brendan Cantwell

Abstract

In the United States of America, a significant proportion of the age-cohort enroll in higher education but only about one-half of students who start a degree program graduate. Given low completion rates, comprehensive reform efforts seek to improve student success. This article considers the social foundations and policy conditions that shape the student success reform movement in the USA. It argues that the American social compact, which relies on hard work and education as a pathway for social mobility, decentralized governance structure, and the role of philanthropy in the higher education sector all influence the student success reform movement.