LaGuardia Recognized as a Top Performer in a Nationwide Survey Assessing Community Colleges

Long Island City, NY—In a recent nationwide survey assessing the quality of community college education, LaGuardia Community College was recognized as a top performer in engaging students and helping them succeed in their educational dreams.

The 2005 National Report from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) cited LaGuardia Community College for providing its students with a challenging academic environment, successfully engaging students in a variety of collaborative projects, and supporting its students through a host of tutoring, mentoring, and counseling programs.

This is the second time LaGuardia Community College has received recognition from CCSSE. In 2003, LaGuardia Community College was recognized as one of three top performing large community colleges in the country. In a shifting trend, community colleges now represent the entry point for bachelor’s degrees in the country.

President Gail O. Mellow said, “The continued recognition of LaGuardia Community College as setting the national benchmark for the quality of our student engagement is a tremendous testimony to our dedicated faculty and staff. As community college experts, we know student engagement has a direct relationship with student success. The CCSSE report affirms our belief that LaGuardia’s combination of innovative teaching practices and student support services represent the best practices in the country.”

Silvia Costa is one example of the students whose lives have been changed by LaGuardia Community College. Silvia Costa, a native of Brazil, enrolled at LaGuardia Community College “only to learn English in a non-credit English as a Second Language (ESL) class.” Due to the support Silvia received from staff and faculty, she had the confidence to not only complete her ESL but to start taking credit courses; today she is majoring in physical therapy.

“These results,” the report explained, “give community colleges objective and relevant data about students’ experiences at their colleges so they can better understand how effectively they are engaging their students and identify areas for improvement.”

To adequately compare the performances of the nation’s community colleges, the survey identified five benchmarks of effective educational practices: active and collaborative learning, student effort, academic challenge, student-faculty interaction, and support to learners. “CCSSE’s five benchmarks denote areas that educational research has shown to be important in quality educational practice,” the survey noted, “and they provide useful ways to look at each college’s performance in these areas.”

In the area of “academic challenge,” the report cited LaGuardia’s Electronic Portfolio initiative as an effective way to create a stimulating academic environment. The project has students garner a collection of their academic work, which they post on the Internet. Throughout the academic year, the students refine their electronic presentations and continually reflect on the process of their growth and development.

Students who have designed ePortfolios have told interviewers they “worked harder than they thought they could,” “synthesized and organized ideas in new ways,” and “made judgments about the value or soundness of information” more frequently than the LaGuardia average.

In the area of “student effort,” the college was recognized for successfully engaging students in a variety of collaborative projects–student-led seminars, role-playing activities, problem-based learning assignments, interdisciplinary research, and the e-portfolio–that promote shared responsibility for learning.

According to the survey, the college was effective in “supporting its learners,” through its “e-transfer” program, where students, peer mentors, faculty, and counselors form on-line groups that explore career development and the transfer process.

Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Lumina Foundation for Education, and MetLife Foundation, CCSSE based its findings on the responses of over 133,000 students who attend 257 colleges in 38 states. The random group of students was asked questions about institutional practices and student engagement with faculty, staff, and other students, which the survey posits as a sound barometer for student success and retention.

LaGuardia student Silvia sums it up best, “I came to this country six years ago and I came to college to learn English. Everything in my life has changed since coming to LaGuardia. I am now studying physical therapy and am grateful to my instructors for teaching and encouraging me to pursue my studies.”