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Research Report
May 15, 2019

Better Than We Thought

Comparing Publicly Available Data on College Students’ Income Distribution

In this report, we compare and contrast three datasets—IPEDS, CDS, and Opportunity Insights—for various categories of public and private four-year institutions, in the aggregate. We find that, when grouping students who do not receive federal financial aid—whose income is therefore unknown—with students in the top income category, the IPEDS income distribution is very similar to the Opportunity Insights income distribution at this aggregate level. Furthermore, comparing IPEDS data with CDS data provides insights about which students benefit from institutional financial…
Research Report
January 10, 2019

Enrolling More Veterans at High-Graduation-Rate Colleges and Universities

Higher education plays a vital role in raising income, moderating income inequality, and increasing economic growth and global competitiveness. But U.S. higher education attainment continues to lag for lower-income and underrepresented-minority students, particularly at the colleges and universities that have the most resources and the highest graduation rates. As a stark example, research by economist Raj Chetty and his team found that there are more students from the top one percent of the income distribution at the Ivy-Plus colleges than…
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Research Report
December 17, 2018

A 2018 Report on the Progress of the American Talent Initiative in its First Two Years

This report offers the first look at the progress achieved during the American Talent Initiative’s first two years. Between the 2015-16 academic year (the year before ATI’s founding) and the 2017-18 academic year, ATI members increased their enrollment of low- and moderate-income students by 7,291, an increase that represents about 15 percent of the 50,000-by-2025 goal, achieved by about a third of eligible schools. During this period, more than two-thirds of ATI members increased Pell enrollment, and for about half…
Research Report
December 11, 2018

Mapping the Wild West of Pre-Hire Assessment

A Landscape View of the Uncharted Technology-Facilitated Ecosystem

The rise in technology-facilitated assessments has created a paradigm shift in employer talent acquisition. Traditionally, the process of assessing candidates’ skills has focused on resumes composed of credentials signifying successful participation in or completion of an experience (like a degree, a training program, or a prior job) and candidates’ own claims of competencies. Such a process favored intermediaries like higher education institutions, industry associations, governmental agencies, and former employers, who awarded credentials for successful program completion or could vouch for…
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…