AACRAO Eye on Research June 2017

by Wendy Kilgore | Jun 29, 2017

Commentary – How to get students to eat their vegetables

In my search for interesting higher education research articles to share with you, I occasionally run across results that are surprising and interesting in ways that I was not expecting.  The just-released Stanford University associated study in the online version of the Journal of the American Medical Association for Internal Medicine is one of those studies.  The article is titled the “Association Between Indulgent Descriptions and Vegetable Consumption: Twisted Carrots and Dynamite Beets.” Although the concept of in loco parentis has for the most part disappeared from higher education, institutions continue to be concerned with the general health and well-being of their students, and this includes providing a healthy variety of food options through campus food services.  This research was not tied only to campus food service but the larger issue of promoting healthier food choices.  However, the subjects of the study were primarily Stanford University undergraduate and graduate students. The researchers found that using indulgent food labels for vegetables resulted in a 23% increase in the mass of vegetables consumed compared to those labeled with more basic terms (e.g., “corn”), “healthy restrictive” (“reduced-sodium corn”), or “healthy positive (“vitamin-rich corn”) labels. In each instance, the vegetables were prepared the same.  Indulgent labels included “dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets,” “sweet sizzlin’ green beans and crispy shallots,” and “twisted citrus-glazed carrots.”  The results of this research point to a low-cost intervention that may help students make more healthy eating choices and may even have implications for campus dining marketing efforts

Upcoming and Ongoing AACRAO Research

The July 60-Second survey will focus on the practice of monitoring social media and its impact on the admissions process. This topic became the focus of the survey as a result of the June 5th Washington Post article “Harvard withdraws 10 acceptances for ‘offensive’ memes in private group chat.” We hope your institution will participate in this survey, we and want to remind everyone that the results are reported in the aggregate only. No information about specific institutions will be reported.

The grades and grading practices surveys have closed, and we had a good response – 661 undergraduate and 306 graduate and/or professional institutions responded to the surveys.  The results will be analyzed, compared to past survey results, and released in book format.  This summer’s chief enrollment management career profile survey and subsequent report will expand on the 2014 version in that it will include “words of wisdom” for upcoming professionals as well as interviews with professionals currently employed in this position. In addition, the college completion initiative interviews are almost complete, and the report writing is well underway.

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Early FAFSA/ISIR Activity 

Royall & Company Research released the results of a 171-institution survey about institutional changes in practice in response to the early FAFSA.  Among others, the key findings included: 
  • “Forty-one percent of participants indicated they had significant early FAFSA activity, 43% indicated they had moderate activity, 8% reported minimal activity, and 7% indicated they had no activity.”

  • “Schools with significant FAFSA activity were up in ISIRs an average of 55% year over year (compared with February 1, 2016).”

  • “When looking at point-in-time comparisons related to the FAFSA application release date, 26% of schools are releasing their need-based financial aid offers 4- 8 weeks earlier than last year, 31% are releasing offers 2-3 weeks earlier than last year, 20% are releasing their offers around the same time as last year, and the remaining 24% are releasing their offers later than last year.”

AACRAO conducted a similar survey in July 2016, before the early FAFSA was released, seeking feedback on anticipated practice changes.

CUNY Start Program

An op-ed story in The New York Times titled “Ending the Curse of Remedial Math” highlights the effectiveness of a CUNY program for students who do not test into college-level courses in math, reading and writing.  This program has proven effective for more than half of its students who are college ready within just one semester.  Students are enrolled in the CUNY Start program full-time and attend classes for 25 hours per week.  

Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses

The American Council on Education (ACE) Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement (CIGE) recently completed an assessment of the current state of internationalization at American colleges.  The mapping is completed every five years, and the degree of internationalization is measured across six parameters: “articulated commitment; administrative structures and staffing; curriculum, co-curriculum, and learning outcomes; faculty policies and practices; student mobility; and collaboration and partnerships.” Among other conclusions, this year’s data finds that “institutions are optimistic about their internationalization progress” and it is an increasingly “administrative-intensive” undertaking.

Student Centered Financial Aid

AACRAO, NACAC and NASFAA partnered with Tyton Partners on a Bill & Melinda Gates-funded project to identify the “challenges and emerging solutions related to technology in the U.S. financial aid system.”  Tyton Partners used a combination of interviews, market analysis and survey data for the project.  The researchers found three future trend drivers for financial aid technology: 
  • “Schools become more student centered, focusing on the student’s experience from inquiry to matriculation to graduation;

  • SIS platforms remain the main solution for core financial aid processing but enable greater integration with other systems; and

  • ‘point solutions’ that are targeted at distinct problems in the financial aid system show increased development and traction.”

Equity in Education: Key questions to consider

The Education Commission of the States completed a special report, the results of which are designed to encourage an increase in the intentionality of policy assessment and development throughout the P-20 spectrum.  There are a series of “equity minded” questions to ask about state-level policy on teaching and leading; learning and transitioning; measuring and improving; and financing.

Validity of Consumer Ratings for Higher Education

Jonathan T. Rothwell, of the George Washington University Institution of Public Policy, developed an individual consumer ratings index and completed two validity tests.  His results, which were published on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), indicate that institutions with higher consumer ratings predict higher income and well-being and correspond to objective quality measures from administrative sources.  As such, the author concludes that consumer ratings can provide both valid and reliable institutional quality comparisons.

The Future of Online Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education conducted a survey of 1,287 higher education administrators connected to online education.  Highlights from the data include:
  • Nearly all institutions offer online education

  • Part of strategic plan for two-thirds

  • Faculty perceptions of online education growing more positive

  • More than half agree that online education made their overall education stronger or much stronger

  • Institutions are using third party providers for course quality certification

  • 98% of public institutions offer fully-online courses compared to 89% of private institution

Policy Snapshot - Competency Based Education

The Education Commission of the States completed a summary of the 2016 and 2017 state level legislative activities related to competency based education (CBE).  In 2016, three states considered CBE legislation, and one bill was enacted in Florida.  In 2017, seven bills were introduced, of which two were enacted (Utah and Virginia), and four remain pending in Texas and Oregon as of the release of this report.