PAC meets two of five benchmarks


By Stephen Ratliff
 Staff Reporter

Palo Alto students may use the results from the 2015 Community College Survey of Student Engagement or CCSSE to determine how their college compares to the other Alamo Colleges.

The CCSSE is an in-class pencil-and-paper survey designed in 2001. It was created to effectively measure students’ college experience, student engagement and their interactions with peers and faculty.

Students from Palo Alto, San Antonio College, St. Philip’s, Northwest Vista and Northeast Lakeview completed the CCSSE during the Spring 2015 semester.

The CCSSE results are important to faculty because gaining feedback is necessary for improvement, and the results can be used by students to compare Alamo Colleges to make sure their school meets their educational needs.

The questions from the CCSSE are grouped into five benchmarks. They are: active and collaborative learning; student effort; academic challenge; student/faculty interaction; and support for learners. Each question can be worth one through four points, and the goal for each school is an average of 50.0 points in each benchmark.

The active and collaborative learning focuses on student interaction, and it asks questions like, “[Have you] Worked with classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments?”

Northwest Vista had the highest score of 57.7, and Palo Alto scored the lowest of the Alamo Colleges at 48.2.

“I have been going to Palo Alto for three semesters, and I’ve barely had any classes where I was required to work with other students,” said Abigail Barrientez, a current student at Palo Alto who is working toward her Associate of Art degree. “There isn’t much need for student interaction when you’re taking mostly art classes … Everyone basically just shows up, works and leaves.”

The student effort section looks at active student engagement, and it asks questions like, “[How often have you] Had serious conversations with students of a different race or ethnicity other than your own?” Palo Alto had the highest score of 50.6, and Northeast Lakeview had the lowest score of 45.

The academic challenge section is about applying what students learned in class into the real world, and it asks questions like, “[How well can you] Use information you have read or heard to perform a new skill?”

In this benchmark none of the Alamo Colleges met their goal. St. Philip’s scored the highest at 49, Palo Alto scored 46.5, and Northeast Lakeview scored the lowest with 44.8.

The student/faculty interaction section is about how often a student spends time with faculty outside of class, and it asks questions like, “ [How often have you] Talked about career plans with an instructor or advisor?”

St. Philip’s scored the highest at 50.8, Palo Alto scored 48.3, and San Antonio College scored the lowest at 47.1.

The last section, support for learners is about how welcomed students feel at their college, and it asks questions like, “[How often does your college] Encourage contact among students from different economic, social and racial or ethnic backgrounds?”

St. Philip’s scored the highest at 53.7, Palo Alto scored 51.7, and Northeast Lakeview scored the lowest score a 48.6.

Palo Alto met the goal for two benchmarks out of five, student effort and support for learners. St. Philip’s, however, met the goal for three out of five benchmarks. Northwest Vista and San Antonio College met the goal for only one of the five benchmarks. Northeast Lakeview did not meet the goal in any of the benchmarks.

Despite not achieving the goal of 50 points for each benchmark, the CCSSE did reveal that 93 percent of Palo Alto students in the survey answered they would recommend the Alamo Colleges to a friend or family member.

To view a sample of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement download a pdf. copy at

To learn more about the Community College Survey of Student Engagement visit their website at,