Translating Community College Research into Practice: Community College Research Center’s New “Practitioner Packets”

Over the past several years, the Community College Research Center (CCRC), housed at Teachers College, Columbia University, has conducted extensive research and generated dozens of publications on college readiness, online education, developmental education, student supports, and other issues related to community colleges. Of course, this research is more effective when it gets into the hands of the educators who are working every day to help students reach their goals. But there are countless community college administrators, faculty and staff members who—busy with the day-to-day demands of their jobs—are not able to stay abreast of research that might be relevant to their work. The result is that there continues to be an “innovation-dissemination” (or “research-to-practice”) challenge in the community college field.

It is with these practitioners in mind that CCRC has begun to package our research from across studies in a few, brief, easily digestible publications. These “practitioner packets” are designed so that community college administrators, faculty and staff will be able to easily review our findings—and the implications and recommendations stemming from these findings—without having to read through numerous papers.

We have now completed three of these practitioner packets: What We Know About Dual Enrollment; Designing Meaningful Developmental Reform; and What We Know About Online Course Outcomes. While the content of each packet varies, all three synthesize and summarize research from numerous CCRC studies and provide insights and recommendations that have emerged from these findings.

The dual enrollment packet is geared toward practitioners considering implementing or expanding dual enrollment programs. It presents outcomes data from studies on dual enrollment programs in Florida, New York and California; presents a case study of how one dual enrollment program increased participation of low-income and underrepresented students; and lays out guiding questions to consider when designing a dual enrollment program.

The packet on developmental education reform is designed for practitioners who may be embarking on developmental education reform at their colleges. It reviews some common impediments to reform, summarizes our findings on developmental education assessment and placement as well as acceleration strategies, and presents case studies.

Also included in the packet are answers to frequently asked questions about CCRC’s studies examining how well college assessment tests predict students’ college performance, and a PowerPoint presentation with key data points that can help guide stakeholder discussions.

Finally, our online education packet summarizes CCRC findings on student outcomes for fully online community college courses, and offers recommendations from our qualitative studies of online education to help administrators and faculty improve online education at their colleges.

Our hope is that these publications will make our research more accessible and actionable for those in the field who dedicate their days to helping students achieve the promise of a great college education. As we continue to develop practitioner packets on other broad topics—non-academic student supports and pedagogy—we would love to hear your thoughts on those we have completed and on ways in which future packets could more effectively serve your needs as educators.  Tweet us at @CommunityCCRC or friend us on Facebook!

Georgia West Stacey is a Communications Specialist with the Community College Research Center at Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

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