Published Manuscripts

Balzer Carr B, London R. A. (2020). Healthy, Housed, and Well-Fed: Exploring Basic Needs Support Programming in the Context of University Student Success
. AERA Open. July 2020. doi:10.1177/2332858420972619

Meeting college students’ basic needs is the goal of a new set of student success initiatives that address students’ urgent food, housing, or financial hardships in an effort to help them remain and succeed in college. Focusing on one California public university, we describe one such basic needs program, identifying the students who participate, their hardships and services received, and their retention over time. Students presented with issues in four main areas: food insecurity, mental health, multiple severe hardships, and need for one-time supports. In general, participants were retained at lower rates than the campus average, which is to be expected given their severe hardships. However, those who enrolled in the Supplementation Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were retained at higher rates, on par with or higher than university-wide retention. California has amended SNAP regulations to waive work requirements for low-income students, making it easier for college students to qualify.

Keywords: at-risk students, basic needs, food insecurity, housing insecurity, student success, descriptive analysis, health, higher education, longitudinal studies, poverty, retention, secondary data analysis, social class

Chang, E., London, R. A., & Foster, S. S. (2019). Reimagining Student Success: Equity-Oriented Responses to Traditional Notions of SuccessInnovative Higher Education, 1–16. doi: 10.1007/s10755-019-09473-x


This study examined how 20 faculty and staff members used a one-time funding initiative to (re)conceptualize and design student success interventions. We found that they selectively adopted traditional notions of student success but also elevated themes of social justice, civic engagement, and overall student well-being as valuable dimensions of student success. This more expansive conception of student success informed how project leads designed interventions, including peer-tutoring supports and programs to support a sense of belonging. We argue that participatory approaches to student success framing and programming might advance more relevant and responsive conceptions of student success and facilitate organizational processes for achieving these more expansive aims.

Keywords: student success, historically underrepresented students, higher education, equity

Carr, B. B., & London, R. A. (2017). The Role of Learning Support Services in University Students’ Educational OutcomesJournal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice21(1), 78–104. doi: 10.1177/1521025117690159

Learning Support Services at the University of California, Santa Cruz is intended to aid students—particularly those who are at highest risk of academic failure—to master the required material and succeed in their courses. It includes two primary components: modified supplemental instruction (MSI) and tutoring. This study uses data from administrative records kept by University of California, Santa Cruz on its students’ academic experiences in the 2010–2011 to 2013–2014 academic years to examine the extent of utilization of MSI and tutoring, the types of students engaged in these activities, and the role of Learning Support Services in aiding students to improve their course grades, remain in school, and graduate in 4 years. The study addresses gaps in the literature on both supplemental instruction and tutoring by offering a new method to reduce selection bias in comparing participating to nonparticipating students and by focusing on the extent of participation in programs, rather than whether participation occurred or not. Students who participated in MSI and tutoring earned higher course grades when compared with other students and, in the case of MSI, compared with themselves in courses where they did not participate in MSI. Tutoring, but not MSI, was associated with improvements to retention, and neither was associated with improvements to 4-year graduation.

Keywords: student success, supplemental instruction, tutoring, higher education