ECC conducts focus groups for five student communities

Shealeigh Voitl, Managing Editor

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Around the end of October, Elgin Community College sent out a campus-wide email about conducting a number of focus groups over the course of the next month.

“For these particular focus groups, the [Student Success Infrastructure] committee was specifically interested in the experiences of student groups or communities that have been traditionally underrepresented in past surveys and feedback forums, which included LatinX, African-American, undocumented/DACA, LGBTQ+ and adult [students],” said Managing Director of Institutional Research Dave Rudden.

The committee hoped that these sessions would provide the College with the insight necessary to improve the overall campus experience as well as allow the College to establish or promote resources that may help students achieve their set goals.

“Partly, we were interested in just finding out if/how current students’ experiences differ from the experiences of students when we had last conducted a major focus groups campaign about ten years ago,” Rudden said. “The questions ask about students’ perceptions about the general climate at ECC and what hurdles or obstacles they may face today as a college student, in general, and an ECC student, in particular.”

Other, more recent focus groups over the years have also yielded valuable information that has led to key decisions made in terms of student resources.

“One of the primary points of feedback that we had received from recent focus groups with African-American students was that students were looking for better guidance from the College in putting them in touch with student resources or guidance with general institutional processes,” Rudden said. “This was part of the evidence that went into the decision to create a new Student Life Coordinator of Targeted Population position [which was subsequently filled by] Brittany Jones.”

After a slow start to the fall semester and some rescheduling, Rudden seems encouraged by how the sessions have been going so far.

“Overall, the groups have only been averaging four or five students per sessions, which is smaller than we would have liked, but the feedback is always very informative,” Rudden said. “The students that have participated indicate that they enjoy the opportunity to share their individual feedback directly with the College.”

Rudden believes, as a researcher, in constant growth, which is why the committee seeks to better understand student life so that they may understand what areas need to be refined.

“In general, the feedback seems to be much more positive than critical, which is nice to hear in the sense that it means ECC is serving students well,” Rudden said. “But from a research standpoint, it’s always more interesting to hear about the opportunities for change or improvement. The most important aspect of feedback is that it’s coming directly from ECC students, and that’s always very powerful information for the College to use in making decisions.”