Greater Texas Foundation supported the Texas Small and Rural Colleges Working Together project with a grant of $133,332 in June 2016. This project provides valuable opportunities for leaders of small and rural colleges to receive guidance in supporting students and to collaborate with each other. The first workshop resulted in specific, actionable steps each college could take to improve student success during the spring of 2017, and the following workshop will build on that momentum. Learn more in this update from Dr. Evelyn Waiwaiole, Executive Director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement.

The Texas Small and Rural Colleges Project, funded by Greater Texas Foundation, allowed the Center for Community College Student Engagement (the Center) at The University of Texas at Austin to support the development of data-informed institutional improvements at 14 colleges:

    • Brazosport College (Lake Jackson)
    • Clarendon College (Clarendon)
    • Coastal Bend College (Beeville)
    • Grayson College (Denison)
    • Howard College (Big Spring)
    • Lamar Institute of Technology (Beaumont)
    • Northeast Texas Community College (Mt. Pleasant)
    • Ranger College (Ranger)
    • Southwest Texas Junior College (Uvalde)
    • Texas State Technical College in Harlingen (Harlingen) 
    • Texas State Technical College in Marshall (Marshall) 
    • Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater (Sweetwater)
    • Texas State Technical College in Waco (Waco)
    • Western Texas College (Snyder)

Each participating college sent a team of about five staff members to the fall 2016 workshop in Austin, Texas. The workshop’s sessions focused on Guided Pathways, Student Financial Health and data from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE). College teams reviewed and assessed their CCSSE data and identified one student engagement benchmark to strengthen during the spring 2017 semester.  One college chose active and collaborative learning, four chose to focus on student effort, two selected academic challenge, five chose to strengthen student-faculty interaction, and two decided to work on support for learners.

In fall 2017, the 14 colleges will gather again for a pre-conference session at the Texas Success Center meeting to discuss what they have learned, present updates on their progress, share next steps, and continue to build a learning community between colleges.

By participating in the Texas Small and Rural Colleges Working Together project, colleges will rethink their assessment of student engagement and, over time, strengthen the impact of their efforts to improve student completion rates.