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Publications

Research Report
April 4, 2018

Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS)

Evaluation Findings from the First Year of Implementation

In 2015, estimated bachelor’s degree attainment rates by age 24 were nearly five times greater for those from the highest family income quartile than for those from the lowest quartile (58 percent vs. 12 percent). Lower graduation rates of low-income students are not fully explained by lack of academic preparation, and a growing number of research studies attribute this achievement gap, at least in part, to low-income students’ lack of “institutional know-how”—their ability to navigate the complex bureaucracies that characterize…
Research Report
February 28, 2018

Postsecondary Access and Diversity

Reflections from the Bowen Colloquium on Higher Education Leadership

“[T]he twin problems before us are, first, an unacceptably stagnant level of overall educational attainment in spite of historically high returns to degree completion and, second, persistent disparities in BA completion rates by socio-economic status. The two are, as it were, linked at the hip because we can’t achieve significant increases in the overall level of educational attainment unless we do a better job of graduating students from poor families and from Hispanic and African American populations.” —William G. Bowen,…
Research Report
February 28, 2018

Technology in Higher Education

Reflections from the Bowen Colloquium on Higher Education Leadership

“Properly conceived, information technology will enhance, but not replace, traditional modes of teaching and learning. It will also permit the delivery of educational content to a wider variety of others interested in subjects that lend themselves to distance learning – at home and at odd hours.” —William G. Bowen, “At a Slight Angle to the Universe: The University in a Digitized, Commercialized Age,” Romanes Lecture, Oxford University, October 17, 2000.
Research Report
February 28, 2018

Free Speech, Student Activism, and Social Media

Reflections from the Bowen Colloquium on Higher Education Leadership

“We don’t invite people here [to speak] because we agree with them. The right question, well phrased, can be far more effective than preventing people from speaking.” —William G. Bowen, quoted in Priscilla Van Tassel, “Bowen Reviews His Years at Princeton,” The New York Times, November 29, 1987…
Research Report
January 29, 2018

Faculty Collaboration and Technology in the Liberal Arts

Lessons from a Teagle Grant Program

In response to enrollment and revenue declines, residential liberal arts programs are seeking ways to contain costs and build institutional capacity, while maintaining the quality of a liberal arts education. Some institutions have banded together to form robust consortia to share resources and distribute burdens. And some of these consortia have focused their efforts on the creation and use of online teaching resources and courses, hypothesizing that doing so will increase institutional capacity to provide educational offerings at a fraction…
Research Report
October 31, 2017

Higher Ed Insights: Results of the Spring 2017 Survey

In May and June of 2017, we surveyed the Ithaka S+R Higher Ed Insights panel—164 senior leaders and experts at colleges and universities, associations, research groups, and philanthropies—about the state of higher education and the likely impact of recent events and trends. While respondents were generally positive about the state of undergraduate education in the United States, they expressed urgency about the need to improve degree completion rates, the quality of student learning, and affordability for students. Respondents’ reactions to…
Research Report
June 8, 2017

Quality Assurance in U.S. Higher Education

The Current Landscape and Principles for Reform

The American higher education sector is diverse and creative. In 2014-15, the sector produced over 1 million associate’s degrees, nearly 1.9 million bachelor’s degrees, over 758,000 master’s degrees, and over 178,000 doctoral degrees.[1] The world leader in innovation for decades, the sector continues to produce cutting edge research and contributes mightily to the American economy. Recent estimates concluded that the United States spends a larger percentage of GDP on higher education than any other country.[2] But…
Research Report
February 15, 2017

Funding Socioeconomic Diversity at High Performing Colleges and Universities

This report is published on behalf of the American Talent Initiative (ATI). ATI is a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Aspen College Excellence Program, Ithaka S+R, and a growing alliance of top colleges and universities collaborating on a national goal: educating an additional 50,000 low-to-moderate income students by 2025. ATI members are working together to identify the best ways to attract the talent pool that is now missing from top colleges and to share the best practices for providing those…
Case Study
October 20, 2016

Institutional Transformation for Student Success

Lessons Learned from Ithaka S+R’s Case Studies

Over the past decade, U.S. colleges and universities have faced increasing pressure from funders, policymakers, and advocates to improve degree completion rates and demonstrate their value to students.[1] At the same time, researchers have produced substantial evidence about the efficacy of a number of structural and pedagogical changes institutions can make to help students succeed. These changes include remedial course redesign, proactive advising and coaching, active learning pedagogies incorporating technology, and streamlined pathways through institutions.[2] Yet…
Case Study
October 6, 2016

Engineering Learning at Kaplan University

Facilitated by growth in the availability of data about learners, scholars in cognitive science, psychology, computer science, and other disciplines have developed sophisticated insights about how people learn and succeed in academic contexts.[1] Yet, growth in the field of “learning science” has far outpaced higher education institutions’ efforts to apply its insights to their students’ experience. Leaders at Kaplan, Inc.,[2] a company serving over a million learners in various programs, believe that a practical corollary to…
Research Report
September 29, 2016

Higher Ed Insights: Results of the Spring 2016 Survey

Introduction In fall 2015, Ithaka S+R invited a select group of higher education administrators and experts to join a panel of advisors. One activity of the panel, which currently consists of 111 members with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is to take part in semi-annual surveys on issues of national importance in higher education. The first of these surveys was administered in the fall of 2015.[1] Ithaka S+R analyzes and publishes the results of these surveys to inform…
Research Report
September 6, 2016

Student Data in the Digital Era

An Overview of Current Practices

Newly available data are making it possible to understand, improve, and represent student learning and other outcomes in profoundly different ways. With online learning platforms, technology-enabled educational tools, and other digital technologies, data about students and student learning in post-secondary settings have become unprecedentedly extensive and easy to access, interpret, and share. This growing ubiquity and granularity offer new opportunities for institutions, researchers, instructors, and other organizations to put student data to myriad uses: researchers can better understand student learning…
Case Study
April 28, 2016

Broad-Based and Targeted

Florida State University’s Efforts to Retain Every Student

Over the past twenty years, Florida State University (FSU) has recorded one of the largest increases in six-year graduation rates in the nation—increasing from 63.2 percent for the 1988 entering cohort to 79.1 percent for the 2008 entering cohort. This improvement in outcomes has occurred with only a modest increase in students’ entering credentials—for example, the average SAT score of entering students has slightly increased during the time period. Instead of selecting its way to better outcomes, FSU has focused…
Research Report
February 22, 2016

Higher Ed Insights: Results of the Fall 2015 Survey

In fall 2015, Ithaka S+R invited a select group of higher education administrators and experts to join a panel of advisors. One activity of the panel, which consists of 110 members with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is to take part in semi-annual surveys on issues of national importance in higher education. Ithaka S+R will analyze and publish the results of these surveys to inform the broader higher education community about the panel’s views on current debates, initiatives, and challenges. The…
Case Study
February 4, 2016

Student Success by Design

CUNY’s Guttman Community College

A growing number of American community colleges are redesigning their curricula, advising services, faculty development programs, and relationships with four year institutions in order to help more students succeed. In most cases, reforms take place within existing operating structures, as gradual processes of cultural and institutional change. A response to dismal persistence and completion rates at community colleges, Guttman was designed, from its inception, to incorporate research-based practices for helping first-generation and low-income students at community colleges succeed. At Stella…
Case Study
October 29, 2015

Collaborating for Student Success at Valencia College

In recent years, a promising conversation about change at community colleges has emerged. Employing the language of redesign and reinvention, this conversation emphasizes comprehensive, broad-sweeping reform, and calls for a reorientation of community college missions around student learning and student success. Though it is hard to disagree that improving student outcomes is desirable, the traditional enrollment and funding models for community colleges make a true institutional “reset” difficult. Understanding how institutions have successfully gone about redesigning their operations and culture…
Case Study
August 26, 2015

Breaking the Iron Triangle at The University of Central Florida

Scanning the social needs and economic realities faced by institutions of higher education in 2008, John Immerwahr described an “iron triangle” constraining colleges and universities. Immerwahr suggested that the three points of this triangle—cost, quality, and access—exist in an “unbreakable reciprocal relationship, such that any change in one will inevitably impact the others.” According to this logic, making a college or university more accessible or trying to increase the quality of instruction would necessarily drive up institutional costs. Conversely, reducing…
Case Study
April 23, 2015

Building a Pathway to Student Success at Georgia State University

Georgia State University (GSU), a public university in Atlanta with nearly 33,000 undergraduates, has dramatically improved its rates of student success over the past decade. GSU’s six-year graduation rate has increased from 32 percent in 2003 to 54 percent in 2014.[1] During the same period, GSU has made a concerted effort to increase enrollment for traditionally underserved students. Remarkably, the share of its students who are Pell eligible nearly doubled, from 31 percent in 2003 to 58 percent…
Case Study
January 29, 2015

Making Assessment Work

Lessons from the University of Pittsburgh

The past two decades have seen increasing pressure for greater transparency about student learning from both within and outside higher education. Internally, there is a desire to understand and improve the efficacy of curriculum, pedagogy, and student support. Externally, there is a desire to hold institutions—particularly public institutions—accountable. As a result, in the early 2000s the major higher education accreditors began to review colleges’ processes for setting student learning outcomes, assessing those outcomes, and responding to the results.[1]…
Case Study
January 20, 2015

In Pursuit of Excellence and Inclusion

Managing Change at Arizona State University

“The New American University.” To the outsider, or to the leader of another higher education institution, it may sound like a brash and arrogant boast. On the inside, for a person associated with Arizona State University (ASU), it can be an aspirational expression of pride and the opportunity to take a leadership role in U.S. higher education. ASU and its president, Michael Crow, seem to conjure up strong reactions from observers and competitors, both positive and critical. For example, Newsweek…