Frequently Asked Questions

  • How is the CECE Model different than other student success frameworks?
  • Unlike other existing frameworks, the CECE Model integrates decades of research on campus environments, diverse populations, and college success to delineate the optimal environments for diverse populations in higher education. The CECE Model outlines the 9 elements that research suggests campuses should embed throughout their organizational cultures, policies, departments, programs, practices, curricula, and activities.

    While most success frameworks are centered on student behaviors and participation in particular types of activities, the CECE Model focuses on the culturally relevant and responsive environments that are needed for institutions to be truly inclusive of diverse cultural identities and allow all students to thrive regardless of their backgrounds.

  • How is the CECE Model different than other institutional change models?
  • Existing improvement models such as the Equity Scorecard or Achieving the Dream are focused on the change process (i.e., how institutions engage in the process of change), while the CECE Model outlines the ideal focus or content of the change (i.e., the type of change needed to allow diverse populations to thrive). Unlike these other change frameworks, the CECE Model provides a vision regarding what institutions should strive to look like if they hope to maximize success among diverse populations. Therefore, the CECE tools are not meant to replace these existing process models, but can be used in conjunction with other models to provide a more complete picture that includes both what change needs to be made and how to achieve it.

  • How is the CECE Survey different than other campus climate surveys?
  • It is intentional that the CECE Indicators do not reflect specific activities because the ways in which faculty members and staff cultivate culturally engaging campus environments will likely vary across different roles and offices on campus. Rather than measuring the existence of isolated activities (e.g., diversity workshops) that are often seen as the work of cultural centers, the CECE Indicators are intended to prompt all faculty members and staff working with diverse populations to think meaningfully about how they can (further) embed these culturally engaging practices into their work. For example, to create more culturally engaging classroom environments, faculty members might consider the importance of the following:

    • Intentionally create space for students to connect with community members and peers who share their cultural backgrounds.
    • Embed culturally relevant knowledge into their courses by ensuring that course readings reflect voices from the different cultural communities that are represented in the classroom.
    • Integrate cultural community service into their curricula by making efforts to construct course assignments that allow students to engage in problem-based research projects or service-learning projects that focus on issues within their respective cultural communities.
    • Validate students by allocating time during the beginning of the term to get to know students' backgrounds and identities, so that these can inform the refinement of course curriculum and pedagogy throughout the remainder of the course.
    • Humanize the classroom by integrating mechanisms (e.g., jokes, personal stories, reflections, etc.) into discussions that make it more likely for students to see the faculty member as a human being who cares about their success.

    Alternatively, an academic advisor in a targeted support program might not control the content of a course, but might consider the importance of the following in their advising:

    • Injecting a human element into their advising and enhancing their abilities to provide holistic support by (1) recognizing that the' academic, social, and psychological aspects of students’ college lives are intertwined and (2) spending time getting to know their students' psychological and social challenges so that they are better equipped to help them offer or connect these students with appropriate psychological and social supports.
    • Strengthening their abilities to offer holistic support by building stronger connections with registrar, counseling, career counseling, financial aid, and academic support staff so that they can serve as a mediator and easily connect their students to the appropriate services across their campuses.
    • Engaging proactive philosophies by creating systems to consistently and frequently disseminate information about internships, scholarship, and developmental opportunities to students, rather than waiting for students to ask them for this information.

  • Are culturally engaging campus environments relevant to minority serving institutions?
  • Yes. Existing evidence suggests that culturally engaging campus environments are important at minority serving institutions (MSIs). In fact, existing research indicates that MSIs' ability to cultivate such environments is one reason why some of them are effective at fostering success among their students. In the coming months and years, the CECE Project will be conducting research and publishing material to illuminate how some MSIs are cultivating culturally engaging campus environments to create the conditions for diverse students to thrive, so that we can generate a better understanding of how culturally engaging environments manifest at these institutions.

  • Are culturally engaging campus environments relevant to community colleges and commuter campuses?
  • Yes. Data that informed the development of the CECE Model and Survey were collected from both community colleges and four-year institutions. Data that informed the CECE tools were also collected from residential and commuter campuses, urban and rural institutions, and various regions (e.g., Hawaii, the West Coast, the Midwest, the East Coast) of the United States. Therefore, the CECE Indicators were designed to be applicable to two- and four-year institutions, residential and commuter campuses, and colleges across varied geographic regions. Validity tests that demonstrate that the CECE Survey exhibits high levels of content and construct validity have also been conducted with samples from both two- and four-year campuses. The bottom line is that all students need to feel relevant, valued, connected, and supported in order for them to have a maximum likelihood of succeeding.

  • Are culturally engaging campus environments relevant to institutions abroad?
  • We believe so, but this hypothesis still needs to be tested. Higher education professionals and institutions abroad (e.g., in Australia, Japan, and Puerto Rico) have already expressed interest in utilizing the CECE Model and Survey to assess their campus environments and understand how to maximize success among diverse populations on their campuses. In coming years, we will be working with some of these institutions to adapt the CECE tools to be applicable to these different cultural and linguistic contexts.

  • Are culturally engaging campus environments relevant to White students?
  • Yes. The CECE Model and Survey was generated with the success of all students in mind. White students, like students of color, are more likely to thrive when they have access to relevant education and necessary support. Existing analysis show that culturally engaging campus environments are a strong predictor of sense of belonging among both White students and students of color.

  • Are culturally engaging campus environments all about race? Or, does the CECE Survey take income, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics of students into account?
  • The CECE Survey prompts respondents to answer the questions based on the community or communities that are most relevant to them. For example, students of color might answer the questions based on how they perceive the environments from the perspective of a member of their racial group, a Muslim Pakistani student might answer the questions as a member of these religious and ethnic communities, or a gay Latino student might answer the questions from the perspective of someone who identifies with the Latinx and LGBTQA+ communities. Thus, the Survey measures how relevant and responsive campus environments are to the communities that matter to students the most.

  • Is the CECE Survey intended to be administered continuously?
  • The CECE Survey is useful to campuses if it is administered during one year, every other year, or annually. Campuses will get the most useful information out of the CECE Survey if they administer it on a consistent basis long-term, because they will be able to track progress in cultivating more inclusive and equitable campus environments.

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