Ensuring Success Among First-Generation, Low-Income, and Underserved Minority Students: Developing a Unified Community of Support

Holcombe & Kezar, 2019 / American Behavioral Scientist / September 2019

five diverse students

Recent research has demonstrated the value of comprehensive, integrated programs that combine and align several interventions to create a seamless learning environment for undergraduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). While there is emerging evidence of the value of these integrated programs for student success, there is little understanding of exactly how and why they are effective. This study of integrated programs at several California State University campuses indicates that successful integrated programs are effective because they create what we term a unified community of support for students, faculty, and staff. A unified community of support leverages structural changes to campus policies and practices to promote individual changes to faculty and staff knowledge, beliefs, actions, and relationships. This combination offers a unique and novel way of both organizing and conceptualizing student support within higher education, as most existing programs are based around either structural changes or individual support, rather than a mutually reinforcing combination of the two.