Research to Action

Research for Community Colleges

Our research efforts to institute systemic change centers on a transition from the more traditional approaches – which are often jargon-laden and slow to reach decision-makers — to modes of scholarship that are timely, accessible and digestible. The research we conduct addresses community college practitioner needs and provides actionable data that leaders can use to make informed improvements at their institutions. Further, the broader practice-focused research agenda we develop dovetails with continuous institutional improvement efforts at North Carolina community colleges.

This innovative approach to research positions NC State to better support, and deepen connections with, North Carolina community colleges. All Belk Center research will link to Aspen’s student success framework for community college excellence that addresses completion/transfer outcomes, labor market outcomes, equity outcomes and teaching/learning outcomes.

Our doctoral students are uniquely positioned to identify problems of practice on their campus. Problems of practice are focused on directly observable and actionable student success practices that can be improved. Through the dissertation process, our doctoral students and faculty will work together to address these problems with the aim to foster immediate change.

Our current body of research focuses on five areas:

Thanks to the generous support of the ECMC Foundation, we are helping to lead in the area of Career and Technical Education (CTE). Through grant funding, we will both conduct research related to CTE, and fund and train future scholars in the area of CTE.
Through its National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness (NILIE), the Belk Center works with institutions, primarily community colleges, to administer campus climate assessments for the purpose of enhancing institutional effectiveness and student success. NILIE utilizes the PACE: Community College Climate Survey instrument to gather employee perspectives on campus climate and provides institutional leaders with critical information for strategic decision making. In addition, the Home State Initiative (HSIn) is an innovative, collaborative program that bridges NILIE’s mission to support community colleges with NC State’s land grant mission to serve the state of North Carolina. Through HSIn, NILIE provides free data collection, analysis and reporting services to a select set of community colleges in rural areas of North Carolina facing declining enrollment, unsatisfactory student outcomes, and/or challenges with employee recruitment and retention, among other issues.

Reinforced Instruction for Student Excellence (RISE)
We are currently working on an evaluation of the RISE, the co-requisite developmental remediation model in North Carolina. During the Spring 2019 semester, the first group of community colleges piloted the new model. Our evaluation work will focus both on the implementation and student outcomes. Current Reports:

Finish Line Grants
We are currently working the North Carolina Governor’s Office to gather feedback on the initial implementation of the Finish Line Grants program. The program is designed to provide emergency aid to community college students facing financial challenges.

Transfer of students from community colleges to four-year institutions, including the UNC System, is a priority for North Carolina. Our research is focused on how policies and practices within the state help to facilitate successful transfer and degree attainment. We have previously worked with the Transfer Advisory Committee to provide an overview of transfer graduation rates by student demographics and credits earned. We are currently working on projects evaluating the impact of the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA) on credit loss and credit applicability at NC State.

In collaboration with Achieving the Dream (ATD), the Belk Center supports institutional teaching and learning initiatives that further develop faculty-led inclusive instructional practices, supporting community college students as engaged learners. With attention on transforming partner institutions the Center’s work with Teaching and Learning initiatives contributes to creating an atmosphere of inquiry, reflective practices, and continuous improvement across the state of North Carolina.
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Download the Belk Center Data Use Agreement