Research Terms

ARCC: Accountability Reporting for the Community Colleges. This report was required by AB 1417 to develop an annual performance reporting system for the California Colleges. ARCC is produced by California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office every March. There are seven performance measures in ARCC: student progress and achievement rate, percent of students who earned 30+ units, persistence rate, successful course completion rate for credit vocational courses, successful course complete rate for basic skills courses, improvement rate for credit basic skills courses, and improvement rate for credit ESL courses.

Basic Skills: The Basic Skills as a Foundation for Success in the California Community Colleges, known as the "Poppy Copy" defines basic skills as "the foundation skills in reading, writing, mathematics and English as a Second Language, as well as learning skills and study skills which are necessary for students to succeed in college-level work. Courses designed to develop these skills are generally classified as pre-collegiate, basic skills, or both, and may be either credit or non-credit." (RP Group, 2007). Basic skills courses cannot transfer and do not count towards units for a degree. If a course is degree applicable it cannot be basic skills per Title 5.

Duplicated Enrollment: Total number of class enrollments. A student enrolled in multiple courses increases the count for each of those courses. This is a count of seats filled, not a count of persons filling them.

FTEF: Full time equivalent faculty (FTEF). It is a standardized method for computing faculty load. 1 FTEF = 15 LHE (lecture hour equivalent). FTEF is computed by dividing the number of LHE by 15: FTEF = sum of LHE/15. Examples 1: A psychology faculty is teaching 5 psychology classes. Each class meets 3 hours per week. FTEF: 3 hrs/wk x 5 = 15 LHE, 15 LHE/15 = 1 FTEF; Example 2: A Biology faculty is teaching 4 Biology classes. Each class meets 3 hours lecture and 2 hours lab per week. FTEF: 3 lecture hrs/wk x 4 = 12 LHE, 2 lab hrs/wk x 4 =2x0.75x 4 =6 LHE, (12+6)LHE/15 = 1.2 FTEF

FTES: Full Time Equivalent Students (FTES). 1 FTES = 525 contact hours (one student enrolled in courses for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, for an academic year of 35 weeks, 3x5x35=525). FTES is the mechanism used by state to report student attendance for apportionment purpose. Calculations for this measure depend on the course type. There are four types of accounting methods: Weekly census (18-week courses), Daily census (Short-term courses),Positive Attendance (Police academy),Alternative attendance (Independent study/work experience/distance education). Each accounting method uses a different formula to calculate FTES. i.e. Positive Attendance courses measure Total Actual Hours of Instruction ÷ 525. Daily Census Attendance courses (Short-term courses) measure Total Contact Hours ÷ 525. Weekly Census Attendance courses (18-week courses) measure Weekly Student Contact Hours x 17.5 ÷ 525.

LHE: Lecture Hour Equivalent (LHE). It is the first step in computing faculty load. It Standardizes the number of lecture and lab hours taught by a faculty. 1 hour of lecture per week = 1 LHE; 1 hour of lab per week = 0.75 LHE.

Mean: Mean is the average score. For example, on a scale of 1 to 5, out of 10 scores if 2 people choose answer #5, 2 people choose answer #4, 3 people choose answer #3, 2 people choose answer #2, and 1 person chooses answer #1, the mean is 3.2. [Mean = ((5*2)+(4*2)+(3*3)+(2*2)+(1*1))/10].

Median: A median is the score that splits all the scores exactly in half. Half of the scores are above the median, and half the scores are below the median. For example, on a scale of 1 to 5, out of 10 scores if 2 people choose answer #5, 2 people choose answer #4, 3 people choose answer #3, 2 people choose answer #2, and 1 person chooses answer #1, the median is 3. [5 5 4 4 3 MEDIAN 3 3 2 2 1].

Mode: A mode is the most commonly-appearing score. The mode identifies where most people score. For example, on a scale of 1 to 5, out of 10 scores if 2 people choose answer #5, 3 people choose answer #4, 2 people choose answer #3, 2 people choose answer #2, and 1 person chooses answer #1, the mode is 4, because more people chose that answer than any other.

Percentile: Percentile is most often used for determining the relative standing of an individual in a population or the rank position of the individual. The pth percentile is the number such that p% of the data falls below it and (100 - p)% stands above it. For example, if a score is in the 86th percentile, it is higher than 86% of the other scores.

Persistence: Persistence measures the rate of students who stay in college from term to term. Persistence can be measured from fall term to fall term (across two academic years), or fall term to spring term (within an academic year). For the calculation, the first term includes students enrolled in any course at census, regardless of the final grade received in that course. The next term count includes those same students enrolled in any course at census, regardless of the grade received. The persistence rate is the percent of students enrolled in the next term out of students enrolled in first term. For example, if 100 students are enrolled in a fall term, and 75 of those students subsequently enroll in the following spring term, the fall-to-spring persistence rate is 75%. If 60 of those students enroll in the subsequent fall term, the fall-to-fall persistence is 60%. [Definition established by the RP Group, to facilitate ongoing data analysis and comparison to other California community colleges.]

Qualitative Research: Qualitative research involves an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern human behavior. Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research relies on reasons behind various aspects of behavior. Simply put, it investigates the why and how of decision making, as compared to what, where, and when of quantitative research. Hence, the need is for smaller but focused samples rather than large random samples, which qualitative research categorizes data into patterns as the primary basis for organizing and reporting results. Unlike quantitative research, which relies exclusively on the analysis of numerical or quantifiable data, data for qualitative research comes in many mediums such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, uninterrupted observation, bulletin boards, and ethnographic participation/observation.

Quantitative Research: Quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of social phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques.The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to phenomena. The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides the fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. It is conclusive in its purpose as it tries to quantify the problem and understand how prevalent it is by looking for projectable results to a larger population in order to determine whether the predictive generalizations of the theory hold true. Data is collected through a variety of ways such as surveys (online, phone, paper), audits, points of purchase (purchase transactions), and click-streams.

Retention: Student stays in the course to the end of the term and receives a grade. The numerator is the number of enrollments with a grade of A, B, C, D, F, P (Cr), NP (NC); the denominator is the number of enrollments at census (receiving any grade). The retention rate is the percent of students retained out of the total enrolled. For example, in a class of 50 students where 5 students withdraw after census, the retention rate is 90%. [Definition established by the RP Group, to facilitate ongoing data analysis and comparison to other California community colleges.]

Success: Student successfully completes the course (receives a grade of A, B, C, P (Cr)). The numerator is number of enrollments with a grade of A, B, C, P (Cr); the denominator is the number of enrollments at census (receiving any grade). Note that students dropped prior to census are not included in this calculation. The success rate is the percent of students successful in courses out of the total enrolled. For example, in a class of 50 students where 30 students receive a grade of A, B, C, or P, the success rate is 60%. [Definition established by the RP Group, to facilitate ongoing data analysis and comparison to other California community colleges.]

Unduplicated Enrollment: Total number of students enrolled. A student enrolled in multiple courses increases the count by one. This is a count of students, not a count of course seats filled.

WSCH/FTEF: Weekly Student Contact Hours per Full Time Equivalent Faculty = Total FTES x 525 ÷ 17.5 ÷ FTEF. This calculation measures the efficiency of the student to faculty contacts. A higher result indicates more students served by fewer faculty hours; a lower result indicates fewer students served. This measure must be considered in relation to the type of class; some courses must meet other requirements that lowers the student to faculty measure. For example, courses with limited enrollments due to regulations such as nursing clinical classes (limited to 12 students) will have a lower WSCH than a course taught using large group instruction.


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