April 2019 - Student success, online learning and pathways to work

April 25, 2019
  • Online and Distance Learning
  • Research
  • course placement
  • developmental education
  • employment
  • prior learning assessment
  • Student Success

AACRAO Eye on Research April 2019


Two Grants, Open-Source Digital Learning Technology and Opportunity to Participate in Dissertation Research

IELTS Joint Funded Research Program

IELTS is seeking U.S applicants to undertake applied research projects in relation to IELTS for a period of one or two years.  Projects will be supported up to a maximum of approximately $50,000. Areas of interest include: test development and validation, contexts of test use and test impact. If you are interested in learning more, use the hyperlink above.  

Application deadline: June 30.

Call for institutions to join largest ever PLA impact study by CAEL and WICHE.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) are joining forces on this new study that builds on a decade of ground-breaking research on prior learning assessment (PLA). This will provide the adult learning and postsecondary fields with up-to-date findings on the experiences and outcomes of students who earn credit through PLA.  Grants from Lumina Foundation for Education and Strada Education Network are making this study possible and allowing CAEL and WICHE to offer up to 70 postsecondary institutions stipends of $2500 each for their participation and contribution to this study. CAEL and WICHE are seeking institutions that have offered at least two methods of PLA since 2011 and that systematically track PLA credit earning. Will you join them?

Applications are due May 10. See this link for more details: https://www.cael-wiche-pla.org/

Carnegie Mellon to Release its Digital Learning Software as Open Source.

Dozens of learning software tools developed by Carnegie Mellon are soon to be available as open-source in an effort to help institutions “jump-start learning engineering.”

Invitation to Participate in AACRAO Member Dissertation Survey

One of our members is working on her dissertation and has asked us to help make others aware of her research focus and invite them to participate.  Included below is her introduction to her research and link to her survey.

My name is Terri Thomas, and I am a doctoral candidate in the Rossier School of Education at University of Southern California.  As part of my dissertation, I am conducting a qualitative research study to examine the roles and experiences of senior strategic enrollment management personnel in contributing to institutional change in order to improve student success outcomes at four-year, private colleges and universities.  

If you are interested in participating in the study, will be asked to complete a brief online survey by Monday, May 13, 2019.  The survey should take approximately 10 minutes and consists of 11 questions.


This survey will assist me in collecting general descriptive data and to identify a purposeful sample of 10-15 study participants.  If you meet the participant criteria for the purposeful sample, I will contact you to schedule a date and time for your individual interview, to be conducted online or in-person at your institution.

Each interview is anticipated to last approximately 60 minutes and may be audio recorded, with your permission.  Participation in this study is completely voluntary and both your identity as a participant and your institution will remain confidential at all times during and after the study.  If you are selected to take part in the study as part of the purposeful sample, you may receive a $25 Amazon gift card, to be e-mailed at the end of your interview.

If you have questions about the study, please contact me at thereslt@usc.edu.

Thank you for your consideration,

Terri Thomas

Doctoral Candidate - Rossier School of Education

University of Southern California

AACRAO Research Update

During the next several months AACRAO’s research initiatives will focus on a number of comprehensive surveys in support of AACRAO research, AACRAO publications, and a grant with WICHE on how institutions recognizing prior learning.   Due to the number and size of these surveys, the 60-Second surveys will be suspended until September.

Currently open

  • Admissions operations survey

  • Admissions working group professional development interest inventory


  • Senior Admissions Officer career profile with NACAC


  • Admissions, Records and Transcript Guide publication survey


  • WICHE recognition of prior learning survey


  • 60 Second survey of use of electronic transcripts


  • 60-Second survey on territory management


Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Common Elements of State and System Developmental Education Policies

The Education Commission of the States released a brief based on their comprehensive 50-state comparison of development education policies.  This brief examines sample practices on college readiness assessments, assessment cut scores, multiple measures for course placement, innovative course models and reporting requirements.

Changing Landscape of Online Learning (CHLOE) Report #3

This is the third annual report of chief online officers (COOs) from U.S. institutions focusing on role/responsibilities of the COOs and the online course landscape. The key results from 240 survey respondents include the following:

  • The majority of online courses are asynchronous

  • Fully online courses are more likely to drive enrollment growth (figure below)

  • Most anticipate adding new programs in the next one to three years

  • Required or optional face-to-face sessions are included in a significant number of courses

  • The use of instructional designers is found to have a positive impact on student performance

Growth Rate – Fully Online vs. Blended Course Enrollment (Fall 2018 vs. 2017)

Source: Figure 2 CHLOE report #3

Developmental Education Reform Improves Student Success in Florida

A new report details the findings from six cohorts of full-time college students.  These cohorts enrolled following the legislative change that enabled students to opt out of developmental education and required new instructional strategies for the courses.  Findings include:

  • Enrollment in developmental courses declined sharply, and enrollment introductory college-level courses increased

  • Course-based passing rates for English remained stable, but course based passing rates for intermediate algebra declined

  • Cohort-based passing rates increased for English and Math, and black and Hispanic students’ passing rates increased greater than white students’

Multiple Measures for Course Placement

The Community College Research Center released a brief on the evidence for multiple measures placements, which have increased in prevalence since 2011 (see figure).   This brief also provides an overview of the systems in use in the United States. Multiple measures systems include:

  • Waiver systems – exempts students from placement tests based on demonstrated college readiness

  • Decision rules – a series of steps for evaluating student information based on students testing within a decision band on traditional placement tests

  • Algorithms or placement formulas – weighted data points used to measure predicted level of success in a course and used as a cutoff score

Use of Placement Measures Other than Standardized Tests at Public, Two-Year Colleges

Higher Education and Pathways to Purposeful Work

Bates College and Gallup partnered to survey college graduates, hiring managers and parents of college students, and to conduct focus groups.  The goal was to “examine the role of purpose and meaning in college graduate’s work lives” and provide insights to higher education.  Key findings are:

  • 80% of college graduates say it is “very important or extremely important to derive a sense of purpose from work.”  However, less than half report doing so.

  • Four undergraduate experiences align with finding purpose in work:

    • “Having an applied internship or job”

    • “Having someone who encourages students’ goals and dreams”

    • “Being given realistic expectations for post-graduation employment prospects”

    • “Participating in a class/program that helps students think about pursuing meaning in work”

  • Alignment of work with interests, values and strengths is tied to high purpose in work

  • Self-reflection is also tied to purpose in work

  • Purpose in work is more important to millennials than other age groups

  • Hiring managers cite the following for measuring readiness for the workforce

    • “Critical thinking”

    • “Effective communication”

    • “Collaboration and working effectively on a team”

    • “Curiosity and interest in work that is meaningful to them”

Using State Data Systems to Create an Information Culture in Education

The Education Commission of the States created a new policy guide aimed at providing recommendations for how state policy makers can “improve the information culture in their states.”

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