Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



Published in Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 36 (2012), pp 903–915. doi 10.1080/10668926.2012.690319


Copyright © 2102 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


The conceptual understanding of student engagement entails a necessary relationship between institutions and individuals. Several decades of research have revealed the empirical relationship of student engagement and desirable student outcomes, as well as the myriad intervening factors that influence engagement levels. However, there is a critical gap in the research literature as to the specific programmatic features of college practices that best foster student engagement. In an era of dwindling resources and increasing demand for higher education access and student success, this understanding is critical for utilizing scarce resources and developing programs with the most impact. This essay argues that despite such high impact or promising practices continually studied and shown to have a high impact on student engagement levels, a more systematic investigation of these practices, structurally and collectively instead of topically, is needed to further our conceptual understanding of engagement and how to encourage it at the intersection of the student in the community college context.