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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 15, 2016

CIC Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction

Evaluation Report for Second Course Iteration Treatment

The Council of Independent Colleges, a membership organization of more than 700 institutions, aims to support independent colleges and universities and their leaders as they advance institutional excellence and help the public understand private education’s contributions to society. CIC members, historically, have taken considerable pride in their offerings of highly personalized instruction for their students. As online learning began to be discussed in the mainstream media, CIC members considered the implications of this new form of pedagogy for their institutions.
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
June 9, 2016

Serving the Adult Student at University of Maryland University College

Conventional conceptualizations of the “typical” college student as an eighteen-year old, full-time, residential student poorly match reality. Roughly 70 percent of today’s college students are “nontraditional students,” meaning that they are over the age of 24, commute to campus, work part or full-time, are financially independent, or have children. Some enter college with only a GED, while others are reentry students with an assemblage of credits from various institutions. Many of these students are low-income, the first in their families…
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…
Research Report
October 20, 2015

CIC Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction

Evaluation Report for First Course Iteration

Summary of Findings This report provides our preliminary analysis of evidence generated from the planning period and first iteration of CIC Consortium courses. It includes a summary of our findings, followed by a description and presentation of a good portion of the data for those interested in delving deeper. It is important to note that these courses finished very recently, and we (like the faculty members involved) are still processing what we have learned. We have amassed a considerable mass…
Case Study
September 10, 2015

Reshaping System Culture at the North Carolina Community College System

With 58 schools that enroll more than 800,000 students annually, the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) is the third largest system of higher education in the nation.[1] In 2010, NCCCS embarked on SuccessNC, a strategic initiative focused on sharing best practices, developing performance-based student success metrics, and testing system-wide policies to improve student access and success across all NCCCS schools. The SuccessNC initiative states that its ultimate target is increasing “the percentage of students who transfer, complete…
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…
Research Report
March 18, 2015

Personalizing Post-Secondary Education

An Overview of Adaptive Learning Solutions for Higher Education

For the past decade, the conversation about technology’s potential to transform higher education has grown louder and larger, encompassing more voices, opinions, and topics, and driving changes at a global scale. Participants in this discussion speculate about the possibilities for Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to make quality education more broadly accessible to an international set of learners, deliberate over the value of leveraging business analytics to help students through degree programs, and debate the impact of technology-enabled learning on…