20 Jan 2021

“We keep focusing on the need for student voice, and this [project] really puts it into action. The key is that we are then making choices and changes based on the results of the student focus group.… An action plan needs to come from the results,” explains Jessica Champagne Hansen, GP facilitator at East Los Angeles College, in CLP’s new brief, From Voice to Action: Putting Students at the Center of College Redesign.

This report describes the journey taken by El Camino College (ECC) and East Los Angeles College (ELAC) with CLP to conduct student focus groups. The journey began with a simple question, “Are there successful strategies in learning communities for meeting student needs that may inform a guided pathways framework?” Along the way, the teams gained insights into students’ experiences at their colleges, which they directly applied to redesign efforts. But the teams also realized two additional benefits from conducting the focus group research—it helped them build capacity for making data-driven decisions and it assisted in laying the groundwork for structural changes to integrate students into the redesign process as a routine practice.

The first part of the brief outlines the focus group work, which followed a train-the-trainer model to enable colleges to conduct this research on their own, from design through implementation and analysis. It then describes how this experience changed the colleges’ and the practitioners’ overall approach to college redesign. The second part summarizes findings from the focus groups, describing how the experiences of students who participate in the learning communities Puente Project, First Year Experience and Umoja-Project Success differed from those of the general college population.

Download the brief, From Voice to Action: Putting Students at the Center of College Redesign.

The college teams’ experiences were also highlighted at the October SSSC breakout session, Guided Pathways and Learning Communities – How Hearing Student Voice Changed the Way We Work. Jenny Simon from ECC and Nora Zepeda from ELAC teamed up with CLP senior director Naomi Castro to give this presentation.


This brief was produced by Career Ladders Project with funding from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.