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Delta College's Research & Planning Team Wins Statewide Research Award
When times are tough, California Community College students rise to the occasion and perform
better in transfer level courses. How do we know? Delta College's research and planning trio of
Dr. Matt Wetstein, Brianna Hays and Alyssa Nguyen have the numbers and statewide award
to back it up!
The team’s efforts for the research paper, “Higher Education Enrollments & Student Success in times of Budgetary Scarcity: Examining System–Level Impacts in Recessionary Periods,” received the “Award for Excellence in Regional/Statewide Research” from the Research and Planning Group of California Community Colleges. “The selection process was especially competitive,” says Priya Chaplot, project coordinator for the Research and Planning Group.
Not to be forgotten is the report’s recent “Best Paper” award from the California Association of Institutional Research (CAIR). Congratulations Team!
The report, completed last fall, analyzed nearly 20 years of enrollment data in the California Community College system. The research team’s goal: Examine the impact economic recessions have on patterns of enrollment and course success. The study captured the effects of recessions in the early 1990s and 2000s, and the most recent economic downturn.
“We discovered that over a 20 year period, recessions have a negative enrollment impact on
all levels of higher education,” said Dr. Matt Wetstein, Dean of Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness at Delta College. “The doors to public higher education get closed a little tighter, not just at four-year schools, but at the California Community Colleges as well. Yet, the students who do get into our colleges tend to do better when times are tough; they tend to buckle down and perform well academically in a tight job market and tough economy.”
Highlights of the study indicate:
• When recessions occur in California, state budget reductions produce a lagged effect where access to course sections get reduced at local community colleges. On average, a recession forces as many as 57,000 to 67,000 students to lose access to higher education in the California Community College system.
• On a positive note, recessions do create one positive side effect in the CCC system -- more students successfully complete transfer-level courses during recessions (as compared to years when the economy is humming). Success rates jump, on average, about two-thirds of a percent during a recession.
• With the current limits on enrollments in the UC and CSU systems, increasing numbers of community college students are transferring to for-profit four-year universities instead of public institutions. Studies by researchers at the Chancellor's Office show that large percentages of those students take out loans to do so. A disproportionate percentage are poor, female, non-white students.
Dr. Wetstein adds, "The strength of this research is that it shows how important it is for policymakers to focus on research and data during economic down turns. Community colleges are a tremendous bargain for our democracy. They provide an avenue for educational and career improvement. Every dollar invested by governments during a recession matters. We learned that community college students will respond positively and provide a good return on that investment...
and ultimately, their success leads to good, tax-paying jobs."
San Joaquin Delta College