School of Education News

Mixed Methods blog spotlights community college research of UW-Madison’s Wang

September 20, 2018

The Mixed Methods blog recently put the spotlight on research that examines the success of students at community colleges conducted by UW-Madison’s Xueli Wang.

The post begins: “There is a growing body of evidence that early momentum — students’ earning a substantial number of college-level credits in their field of interest during their first year — is a strong leading indicator that a student will likely complete a college credential in a reasonable timeframe.

Xueli Wang
“Recent research led by Xueli Wang of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is helping to identify the academic behaviors and college practices associated with community college students who achieve momentum on a path toward transfer and a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields of study. Her research is providing new insights for the growing number of community colleges nationally that are seeking to help more students navigate the path to postsecondary credentials by implementing ‘guided pathways’ reforms.”

Wang is an associate professor with the School of Education's Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and is a faculty affiliate of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education.

The blog continues: “In a recent chapter in the ‘Higher Education Handbook of Theory and Research,’ Wang advances a holistic model to explain the mechanisms by which momentum may lead to higher rates of degree completion for community college students.”

The report explains how Wang’s research provides added evidence for practices that are central to the guided pathways model, while also deepening understanding about how colleges can better help students achieve their degree goals.

Specifically, the blog reports, Wang’s research findings highlight the importance of three sets of guided pathways practices:

• Ensure that students take a college-level course in a field of interest in their first term.

• Give students ample opportunities to engage in active learning, particularly in required introductory courses in the student’s field of interest.

• Scrutinize the equity implications of particular reforms.

The Mixed Methods blog is hosted by the Community College Research Center (CCRC), which is housed within Columbia University’s Teachers College. CCRC has been a leader in the field of community college research and reform for more than two decades.

But to learn much more, check out the entire blog post for free on this CCRC web page.

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