Improving student study habits, motivation, and performance in agriculture courses at Woodland Community College

For many community college students, maneuvering through their education to a degree completion is difficult and often requires more than the traditional two years. While academic and financial supports are critical to the completion of a degree, success is also dependent on effective study habits and dedication to coursework. This paper reviews the evidence of the need for highly structured programs. Students must be given specific pathways that guide them towards the receipt of a degree or program certificate. Without this structure, research has shown that students fail to make decisions optimal for success. Thirty-five students enrolled in an introductory animal science course at Woodland Community College were surveyed to identify the following: demographic characteristics; discover student funding of educational expenses; describe their educational and career goals/expectations; and determine student study habits. Students were found to finance their education through either Board of Governors fee waivers or financial support from employment or family members. Students overwhelmingly believe grades were extremely important and intended to complete their coursework at Woodland Community College and attend four-year universities. However, responses showed that most had not met with a counselor, developed an educational plan, and did not devote the appropriate amount of time to the course. The study suggests the agriculture department must implement specific policies to improve student success. The department must require students to meet with a counselor, as well as discuss with students necessary practices they must apply to succeed in college. Ideally, specific pathways must be established in order to insure that students are able to complete their coursework towards a degree in a reasonable amount of time.