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Topic: Educational Transformation

Blog Post
October 22, 2020

Estimating the Impact of COVID-19 on Students’ Academic Outcomes

Note: This blog reflects updates to an earlier version published on September 4, 2020 that described results from preliminary analyses of the first group of 12 institutions. The updated results include 18 institutions, total, and also reflect a minor change in the methodology used to predict scores across all institutions. Both the increase in the number of schools included in the analysis and the methodology change are responsible for changes in the results. The biggest change is that…
Blog Post
October 22, 2020

Student and Faculty Voices on the Emergency Shift to Remote Learning

An Exploratory Study at a Large Urban Institution

The emergency shift to remote learning that took place during the spring 2020 term in response to the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruptions for students and faculty across colleges and universities, nationwide, and globally. As online and hybrid models of learning become prolonged solutions for institutions seeking to contend with the realities and continued uncertainties of the pandemic, the field can gain valuable and actionable insights from the lived experiences of students and faculty at the height of the…
Research Report
October 22, 2020

Student and Faculty Experiences with Emergency Remote Learning in Spring 2020

The emergency shift to remote learning that took place during the spring 2020 term in response to the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruptions for students and faculty across colleges and universities, nationwide and globally. As online and hybrid models of learning become prolonged solutions for institutions seeking to contend with the realities of the pandemic and continued uncertainty, the field can gain valuable and actionable insights from the lived experiences of students and faculty at the height of the crisis.
Blog Post
October 21, 2020

Announcing ATI’s Academic Equity Community of Practice

Recent months have highlighted long-standing inequities within our nation’s postsecondary education system. The barriers facing historically underserved student populations are not limited to the admissions and enrollment process, but extend throughout the academic experience. For the members of the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of high-graduation-rate colleges and universities committed to expanding access and opportunity for low- and middle-income students, combating inequities that exist throughout the student lifecycle is essential to fulfilling our collective goals. Today, we…
Blog Post
October 20, 2020

Transitioning Introductory Math Courses Online to Meet Quality and Efficiency Goals

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities made an almost instantaneous switch from their traditional modes of learning to remote instruction in the middle of the spring 2020 term. Although remote teaching and learning have been used and well-understood in some corners of the academic world for some time, its implementation on this scale by academic leaders and faculty with little or no experience in remote teaching, is unprecedented. The new normal requires new investments and…
Research Report
October 13, 2020

How to Support and Lead the Urgent Transition to Quality Online Learning in Intro Math

A Resource Guide

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place orders enforced throughout the country prompted a rush to emergency remote learning in spring 2020. As institutions enter the next phase of planning with a substantial share of their courses expected to be delivered in hybrid or fully online formats, there is an urgent need to move emergency remote instruction toward more sustainable and intentional models that incorporate evidence-based standards and practices for online learning. It is imperative that higher education institutions capitalize on…
Blog Post
October 5, 2020

“Stranded Credits”

New Report Explores Scope and Effects of Transcript Withholding 

In the past 20 years, over thirty-six million Americans have left higher education without earning a postsecondary degree or credential. Those with some college experience but no degree are often left in debt without the requisite labor market opportunities to pay it off, and can struggle financially for several years after dropping out. These impacts are particularly deleterious for students of color, who are often saddled with an…
Research Report
October 5, 2020

Solving Stranded Credits

Assessing the Scope and Effects of Transcript Withholding on Students, States, and Institutions

Attention to the burden of U.S. educational debt, now at $1.7 trillion, has grown in recent years. For too many former postsecondary students—especially Black students—debt they took on to improve their lives and career prospects has instead become a financial hindrance, delaying or undermining their efforts to buy homes, build savings, or provide for their families. The debt burden is especially severe for those who never completed their postsecondary program and therefore did not receive the credentials that might have…
Blog Post
October 1, 2020

An Interview with Dr. Stella Flores

Policies to Ensure Equitable Access to Well-Resourced Colleges and Universities

Stella Flores is an Associate Professor of Higher Education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Dr. Flores is a leading expert on higher education policy and uses quantitative methods to examine the effects of state and federal policies on postsecondary access and completion for low-income and underrepresented populations. She is also the Director of Access and Equity at The Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy. Ithaka S+R graciously thanks Dr. Flores for…
Issue Brief
October 1, 2020

Policies to Ensure Equitable Access to Well-Resourced Colleges and Universities

Inequity in higher education access is a persistent problem. One way in which this manifests is through inequitable opportunities to attend the most well-resourced institutions. When students attend limited-resource institutions, they are less likely to persist and earn a credential and typically have weaker labor market prospects. Low-income and racial and ethnic minority students are more likely to attend under-resourced institutions than their wealthier and white peers. These enrollment patterns vis-à-vis institutional resources stand to perpetuate social and economic inequities.
Blog Post
September 29, 2020

A Novel Approach to Studying and Measuring a Liberal Education and its Economic Value

In response to growing public skepticism about the value of a liberal education, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has funded a series of studies investigating the long-term effects of a liberal education on various outcomes such as health, civic engagement, and cognitive development. Ithaka S+R’s first contribution to the series was a study published in 2019 examining the economic benefits and costs of a liberal education, as this…
Research Report
September 29, 2020

Measuring a Liberal Education and its Relationship with Labor Market Outcomes

An Exploratory Analysis

The liberal arts and sciences has been a prominent feature of the United States higher education system for centuries, yet it has faced waves of public skepticism since the 1930s. Today, the value of a liberal education is constantly disputed, and colleges and universities face increasing pressure to justify their use of its practices on their campuses. To better understand the value and benefits of the liberal arts and sciences, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has funded a series of…
Blog Post
August 31, 2020

Conducting Virtual Focus Groups

A Short Methodology Case Study for Social Scientists

In June of 2020, Ithaka S+R conducted 18 synchronous exploratory virtual focus groups with 46 undergraduate students and 37 faculty, to assist a higher education institution in learning from its emergency transition to online learning during the spring 2020 term due to Covid-19. We will publish our findings, a time capsule of a university community’s rapid adaptation in response to COVID-19, in a public report later this year. To conduct these focus groups in the midst of the pandemic, we,…
Issue Brief
August 27, 2020

Seven Practices for Building Community and Student Belonging Virtually

Most colleges and universities have traditionally provided in-person programming and supports to strengthen bonds between students and build a sense of community. These activities, such as campus-wide events, one-on-one advising appointments, career development workshops, and mentorship programs, help students develop a sense of belonging at the institution, improve their academic experience, and boost their chances of graduating. These programs and supports are especially important for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, whose experiences of exclusion on campus can impede their progress…
Blog Post
August 25, 2020

Incorporating Equity into Fall Reopening Plans

Earlier this summer, Ithaka S+R began aggregating colleges’ plans for re-opening campuses in Fall 2020, with the goal of facilitating collaboration and planning across the sector. As of August 17th, we have reviewed and synthesized 95 institutional plans, including updates to those plans, into a single resource (click here to view). We are publishing the findings from our analysis of these plans in a series of blog posts, hosted on Ithaka S+R’s…
Blog Post
August 12, 2020

Expanding Access and Opportunity Through Community-Based Organization-College Partnerships

New Report from the American Talent Initiative and College Greenlight

Today, the American Talent Initiative (ATI) and College Greenlight released a new report that highlights how community-based organizations (CBOs) and colleges can partner to expand access and opportunity for students from lower-income backgrounds. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially now, CBOs provide a leg up to tens of thousands of talented lower-income students nationwide who aspire to pursue a postsecondary education, but face…
Blog Post
August 11, 2020

Does Setting an Attainment Goal Move the Needle on Postsecondary Attainment?

As COVID-19 continues to threaten state budgets, statewide commitments to improving higher education outcomes remain more important than ever. While there are a multitude of individual, social, and civic benefits to investing in a well-educated population, supporting postsecondary access and completion should also be viewed as critical for states’ post-recession recovery. A college degree is associated with higher lifetime earnings potential, better health outcomes, and even a longer life expectancy. Closing equity gaps is also necessary to address broader social…
Blog Post
August 10, 2020

Is Online Instruction as Good as Face-to-Face?

Unpacking Assumptions in the Wrong Question Everyone is Asking

As the wave of optimism about returning to on-campus instruction recedes in the face of rising cases of Covid-19 around the country, more and more students, parents, policy-makers, and scholars are asking if online instruction is “as good as face-to-face instruction.” This question is not new, and has been raised for almost every new educational innovation, from television to computers to virtual reality. It does take on a new sense of…
Blog Post
August 3, 2020

Engaging and Supporting Prospective Students

How Can Institutions Draw Upon the Principles of Near-Peer Advising?

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the typical college admissions experience. At the same time, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others have drawn heightened attention to the structural and institutional racism that exists within our educational system and the impact this has on our students who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). Students preparing to enter college for the first time in Fall 2020 have made enrollment choices as the specifics of…
Blog Post
July 30, 2020

Academic Advising Technologies in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond

Exploring the Human Element

Academic advising is one of the most ubiquitous functions in higher education and a central pillar of the student success apparatus at any institution. Prior to the emergency shift to online learning resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more of the administration of student life had become integrated with technology. This includes advising technologies, which are becoming both more common and sophisticated. From foundational degree audit systems to predictive analytics engines, the technologies available to support advising…