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September 26, 2018

The Landscape of First-Year Programming in Two-Year Institutions

A student’s first year at a new college is a critically important period—academically, socio-emotionally, personally, and professionally. To help incoming college students succeed, many institutions offer First-Year Experience (FYE) programs. But most of the research on the scope and effectiveness of these programs centers on four-year colleges and universities, overlooking an important sector of the postsecondary student population–namely students in two-year programs. To begin to fill this research gap, Ithaka S+R and Two Year First Year (TYFY), with support from the…
April 5, 2018

Preliminary Findings from National Advising Study

Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS)

Can changes to the advising process help less advantaged students persist and graduate? This is the question at the heart of an $8.9 million First in the World validation grant awarded to Georgia State University, on behalf of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA).  The Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS) project seeks to bring to scale and test the impacts of a proactive advising system for low-income and first-generation students. Ithaka S+R was brought on to the project as…
January 16, 2018

Ithaka S+R and Two Year First Year (TYFY) Launch National Study

Exploring Programming for First-Year Students in Two-Year Programs

To help incoming college students succeed, many institutions offer First-Year Experience (FYE) programs. But most of the research on the scope and effectiveness of these programs centers on four-year colleges and universities. This is a significant oversight given that 38 percent of all postsecondary students are enrolled at community colleges or other two-year programs. To begin to fill this research gap, Ithaka S+R and Two Year First Year (TYFY) recently launched a research collaboration focused…
November 10, 2017

For-Profit Colleges – What Went Wrong?

Mention the phrase “for-profit college” and I can’t help but immediately picture a single parent working two jobs while attending college at night, after the kids are asleep, saddled with debt and no prospects for improving their employment conditions or earnings despite their best efforts. Vivid in my mind are the painful stories of young low-income mothers I interviewed during my graduate studies, whose economic, family, and personal decisions (and opportunities) were often dictated by their (relatively exorbitant) loan repayments…
July 20, 2017

Training for a Tough Job: The Community College Presidency Pipeline

To say that the community college presidency is in flux is no overstatement. Many existing community college presidents have been reaching retirement age at a time when both the traditional presidential pipeline and rigorous leadership training programs have narrowed. At the same time, there has been a wave of community college president resignations and terminations, leading to warranted concerns about a shortage of qualified candidates who can tackle the increasingly challenging role. Leadership matters. And high-quality sustained leadership is important…
September 28, 2016

Large Advising Study Launches

Many Opportunities to Learn

After a busy planning year, Ithaka S+R and the 11 public universities that are a part of the University Innovation Alliance recently launched the Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS) study. As my colleague Martin Kurzweil explained last fall when the project was just getting started, MAAPS consists of an intensive proactive and technology-enhanced advisement intervention for first-time low-income and/or first-generation freshmen. It is funded by a First in the World grant from the Department of Education,…
June 27, 2016

What Do Airbnb, Uber, and Some Higher Ed Innovations Really Have in Common?

“Airbnb for higher ed” and “Uber for higher ed” have become recurring buzz phrases in the higher education world. A piece on the topic that recently caught my attention describes ALEX, a platform developed by Harvard University students that connects employers and their individual employees with college classrooms that have unfilled seats. Employers can reduce their internal training costs, employees can improve their educational attainment and skills, and higher education institutions can generate additional tuition revenue. Its comparison with…
May 17, 2016

The New Transcript and Predictive Analytics

Only a Matter of Time?

As interest in alignment between education and industry increases, higher education institutions are looking for new ways to signal their students’ industry-relevant skills and experiences to employers in ways that are meaningful and practical. A promising example is the “new transcript” that a number of US colleges are developing. The new transcript includes information that is more readily translated into job skills than traditional transcript data, such as specific course learning outcomes and hours spent on extracurricular activities and…
February 2, 2016

To Measure or Not to Measure: Which Student Outcomes Should Make the Cut?

Few would question whether colleges and universities should have administrative systems in place for measuring learning and course outcomes for all students, in ways that can be quantified and used to help institutions meet their goals. But not all outcomes are created equal, and deciding which outcomes schools should systematically measure for all students can be difficult and controversial. When thinking about colleges engaging in systematic quantitative measurement of student outcomes, three core questions come to mind: (1) Is promoting…
December 9, 2015

Parenting as a College Outcome

Amidst the flurry of a vital and long-overdue national conversation surrounding college completion, affordability and debt, and post-graduate employment, it is easy to conceive of the outcomes and value of higher education as mostly economic. Do students learn skills and earn credentials that lead to fruitful labor force participation and economic self-sufficiency? However, as change and innovation sweep across higher education, it is important to keep in mind the broader range of valuable outcomes and goals we hold and ensure…
October 28, 2015

Is Self-Exploration in College an Outdated Concept?

Time and again, the concept of “self-exploration” as a crucial component of the college experience makes its way into discussions about restructuring undergraduate degree programs in the US. Proponents of such self-exploration argue that focused career-training programs and guided pathways programs are too regimented and narrow, denying students the precious gift of self-exploration and discovery that results from exposure to a vast array of courses of their choosing. Recent innovations in higher education may also limit certain exploratory experiences for…
September 17, 2015

Transforming the PhD to Improve Undergraduate Learning?

In his recent book “The Graduate School Mess” and a series of online articles, Leonard Cassuto of Fordham University eloquently describes how graduate schools fail to prepare PhD students for the undergraduate teaching positions they will most likely hold in the future. And lack of preparation is the least of it: many graduate programs at least implicitly teach students to disrespect teaching-intensive jobs, although they now significantly outnumber research-centered jobs. In the context of growing concern over the quality of student…