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The Impact of Poverty Informed Faculty on Community College Student Success

Barbara J Embacher, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Community college completion has been proven to be a ticket to a middle-class life. Moreover, we know that poverty causes educational barriers, including community college completion. Community colleges across the nation are identifying significant equity gaps between students from poor versus middle-class or affluent households. One solution to close equity gaps and increase student success rates for students experiencing poverty is to educate college faculty through professional development. This includes 1) information on the causes, myths, stereotypes, and other facts about poverty, 2) the impact poverty has on student achievement, and 3) instructional strategies that can help students experiencing poverty succeed in college. The purpose of this study is to understand community college faculty perspectives on whether poverty-informed professional development changes 1) their beliefs about students experiencing poverty, 2) their teaching strategies, and 3) their student success rates of their students who are experiencing poverty. Additionally, a literature review of the educational facts around poverty and the highest impact teaching practices that reduce educational barriers for students experiencing poverty will be studied. The study aims to determine whether even minimal professional development around poverty builds faculty poverty competency and has a positive impact on student achievement. The data was collected through an anonymous online survey distributed in the fall of 2022 to faculty in four Minnesota two-year public community colleges, that provided poverty-related professional development to their faculty within the past five years. The results of this survey suggest the need for college administrators across the country to provide professional development to faculty on 1) the causes, myths, and personal biases around poverty, 2) research-based, poverty-informed teaching strategies that positively impact students in poverty, and 3) data that shows the impact poverty competent faculty can have on student success.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Educational administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Embacher, Barbara J, "The Impact of Poverty Informed Faculty on Community College Student Success" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30421107.