Students to Be Surveyed on GC Experience

Garrett College students will soon participate in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), which is geared to indicate their level of active involvement in the education process. A product and service of the Center for Community College Student Engagement, the CCSSE is a well-established tool created to help institutions focus on good educational practice and identify areas in which they can improve their programs and services for students.

Kalie Ashby, Garrett College Assistant Director of Institutional Research & Planning, explained that this survey is administered during the spring of every other year to returning students. “CCSSE asks participants to respond to questions about institutional practices and student behaviors that researchers consider to be highly correlated with student learning and retention,” she said.

The Center for Community College Student Engagement quotes research data that shows that for many groups of students, the more actively engaged they are, the more likely they are to learn and to continue their studies to attain their academic goals. Based on these findings, student engagement is considered to be a useful measure for assessing the quality of colleges’ educational practices and identifying ways they can help more students succeed.

The CCSSE, which takes about 45 minutes to complete, will be given to students in randomly selected classes at Garrett College as well as at other community colleges across the nation. “Questions in the survey focus on how students spend their time, the nature and quality of their interactions with faculty members and peers, and what they have gained from their classes,” Ashby explained.

Once the surveys are completed, Ashby said the data will be reviewed and analyzed from various perspectives during the following months. Results from the survey will be used in ongoing improvement efforts at Garrett College.

Jim Allen, Interim Dean of Instruction and Director of Institutional Planning at Garrett College, spoke about the results from the previous CCSSE at Garrett College which was completed in 2012. He explained the in the analysis of the data by the Center for Community College Student Engagement uses a three-year cohort of participating colleges and compares results in categories that the CCSSE uses as benchmarks, which are groups of conceptually related survey items that address key areas of student engagement. The benchmarks denote areas that educational researchers have designated as important to students’ college experiences and educational outcomes.

“The results of the 2012 survey showed Garrett College is surpassing other community colleges in many categories. Garrett College students surpassed the CCSSE Cohort by more than 10% on the Active and Collaborative Learning benchmark indicating that students are actively engaged in preparing class presentations and working with classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments,” Allen said.

In regard to data under the benchmark of Student Effort, which takes into account the role of the students’ own behaviors in contributing to their learning and the likelihood that they will successfully attain their educational goals, Garrett College students surpassed the CCSSE cohort in the percentage of students who regularly came to class prepared, amount of time spent on preparing for class, and frequency of use of a computer lab, Allen pointed out.

Another benchmark used in the analysis is Student-Faculty Interaction. Findings of educational researchers have indicated that in general, the more contact students have with their teachers, the more likely they are to learn effectively and to persist toward achievement of their educational goals. Allen explained.

“In the 2012 survey, Garrett College exceeded the CCSSE cohort relative to student-faculty interaction. This comes as no surprise as Garrett College’s student to faculty ratio is 13:1 which enables faculty to have conversations with students about career plans and opportunities to work with students on activities outside of the normal coursework,” Allen said. 

Another significant benchmark that Allen described posits that students perform better and are more satisfied at colleges that provide important support services, cultivate positive relationships among groups on campus, and demonstrate commitment to their success.

“In this benchmark category Garrett College exceeded the CCSSE cohort by more than 10%. Providing financial aid support to students to help reduce the out of pocket cost is very important to students.  In addition the Garrett College Advising and Academic Success Center provides a variety of support services to students including tutoring, career planning, transfer preparation, counseling, and academic advising,” Allen said.

“At Garrett College we are committed to providing our students with the education experience that will result in attainment of educational goal. We strive to continually improve that experience and surveys such as the CCSSE help us to better understand our progress,” Allen said.

Additional information about CCSSE is available at One may also contact Kalie Ashby at Garrett College by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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