What Do We Mean by Student Success?

Credit: iStock.com/threespeedjones
Credit: iStock.com/threespeedjones
I hadn’t given any thought to what student success means because like other widely used descriptors, its meaning appears obvious. And then I read Weatherton and Schussle’s (2021) essay. They point out that we think we know we’re talking about but in fact success has multiple meanings. Thought of in terms of outcomes, success equates to persistence or self-efficacy. But as the authors note, “these concepts can just as easily be seen as components that facilitate success if it is defined as achieving a particular goal.” They share the reason for their essay: “We hope to start a conversation surrounding what success means, who should define it, and how an expansion of our definitions may help to facilitate the success of all students.”

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One Response

  1. One way to quantify challenging attributes such as a willingness to think critically is to combine persistence (in the degree-completion sense) with ABET-style assessment of these qualities. If we can help more of our students reach graduation, and more of those graduating reach these qualities, we can continue to pursue the more noble goals we sometime forget.

    And if we remind students that we see them growing in these areas, both as a group, and individually during office hours, we may help them to reach their own goals of defying the odds (itself a perspective on persistence) and validating their innate desire to become professionals.

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