Case Study

California Community Colleges Case Study: Closing equity gaps by fostering faculty growth mindsets

The California Community Colleges system is currently the largest higher education system in the country, comprising 116 colleges enrolling 1.9 million students. Of these, over two-thirds (as of a 2021 report) represent diverse ethnic backgrounds. While many students start their journey in higher education at community colleges with the aspiration of transferring to a university for a bachelor's degree, less than half earn their degree within six years. Students from structurally disadvantaged or underrepresented groups struggle to complete college at the same level as their more structurally and economically advantaged peers. 

Research by The Equity Accelerator (EA) has shown that mindset beliefs of culture creators, such as faculty and staff in an institution, can shape how students perceive the culture of the institution, influencing students’ experiences and outcomes. Our approach to establishing and sustaining Cultures of Growth – where the policies and practices affirm community members belong, acknowledge their capacity for growth and skill development, and provide resources to support that growth – provides a proven framework for helping faculty support student learning, growth, and retention through academic challenges. 

How can we leverage what we know about mindsets to help California Community Colleges’ faculty create more equitable learning environments and lead to better student outcomes?

Our partnership serves as a case study illustrating:

  • How EA’s needs assessment and analysis can be used to understand and analyze the relationship between faculty mindset, student perceptions, and faculty practices.
  • How our Cultures of Growth framework can support and empower community college faculty and staff with professional development to effectively implement low-lift, high-impact teaching practices to create more equitable classroom learning environments.

How can we help your organization's growth journey?

We offer high-impact, low-lift approaches that are practical, adaptable, and integrate into what you’re already doing. Connect with us to find out how we can work together. 

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