February - The COVID-19 mental health impact, community college transfer, and credentials

Dr. Wendy Kilgore |
February 25, 2021
  • Academic Policy
  • Research
  • Academic Policy
  • community college transfer
  • Community Colleges
  • Competency Based Education
  • covid-19
  • Credential Evaluation
  • Credentials
  • prior learning assessment
  • Transfer
I hoped that 2021 would start well and stay smooth, and it has for AACRAO Research. But it is off to a bumpy start for many of our members in parts of the country impacted by extreme weather. Even with the disruption many are facing, our members have been generous with their time by continuing to respond to our research requests – almost 1,000 responded to the training needs survey! For that, and many other things, I am grateful. We have started to add a drawing for Starbucks gift cards as incentives, and a small token of our appreciation, for those who complete our surveys. I have said it many times, our research, and the practice and policy recommendations that are gleaned from the data, would not be possible without your participation; thank you.

AACRAO Research Update

A recent survey of 1,000 college students found that almost seven in 10 students believe that universities can require the COVID-19 vaccine. We are partnering with Ad Astra who is assisting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in their understanding of the COVID-19 vaccine plans at colleges and universities. We asked a couple of questions about this subject in our January 60-Second Survey, which prompted Ad Astra to contact us about running the topic again and adding some additional content. As with all our research, data will be reported in the aggregate.
The webinar for the digital credentials project took place on February 17th and is available here. A companion session will be shared as part of the 2021 (106th) AACRAO Annual Meeting on March 29th and will take a deeper dive into the future state of digital credentials. The report tied to this data will be posted to our website on March 1st. If you are signed up to receive AACRAO Research reports, it will be emailed to you directly.
ACE will release its summary report from the Taskforce on Transfer on March 22nd. This report will contain research completed by AACRAO and a number of transfer policy and practice recommendations.
Nearly 1,000 members from the United States, Canada and Mexico responded to the comprehensive training needs survey that closed on February 19th. When asked to rank various professional development or job specific training outcomes in order of importance, 38% of respondents selected “identify new strategies/tactics to implement” as number one; 21% selected “learn a new skill/proficiency;” and 14% selected “exposure to hot or cutting-edge topics.” Three quarters identified “virtual training and workshops” as their preferred delivery method for professional development and training. The training needs data will be examined for differences between front line staff, management, and leadership. In addition, it will be examined for differences between how leadership perceives the training needs of those that report to them and how these groups identify their training needs. 
We have also embarked on a project with five institutions that is similar to the transfer research project we just completed with ACE (who will release the comprehensive report on March 22). These institutions have partnered together to take a deep dive on the influence of transfer policy/practice and student advising on the percentage of credits lost in transfer.
Call for Participation

One of our members, Lisa Emery, is seeking participants for her dissertation study. Please see the details below.

Chief Enrollment Management Officers (CEMOs) are invited to participate in a study collecting information about factors impacting job satisfaction and retention. AACRAO’s 2020 Career Profile on CEMOs found that there is a high turnover rate among professionals serving in the CEMO role.  This research aims to gain a better understanding of the role and what structures may exist within institutions which provide higher satisfaction and support for their CEMO. This research is being conducted by Lisa Emery, Senior Associate Registrar at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor as part of her PhD program at Eastern Michigan University. The information learned from the study may assist institutions looking to restructure their Enrollment Management positions as well as professionals who may be looking to apply for a CEMO role. A link to the survey can be found here. The survey will be open until March 25, 2021.


Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Contract Cheating by STEM Students Using File Sharing Site Chegg

Researchers analyzed data from the file sharing site Chegg to demonstrate that it could be used for contract cheating. They examined the archive of homework help questions for five STEM subjects to give an indication of how the site was used.
Policy Approaches to Competency-Based Education
The Education Commission of the States shared a new resource on how eight states measure learning for competency based education.
Mental Health Services Sought in Response to Pandemic

The Center for Collegiate Mental Health released a blog about survey data from nearly 50,000 students at 143 campuses. The authors found that 33% sought help for mental health wellness based on pandemic related issues. They also reported on which aspects of students’ lives were negatively impacted by COVID-19 (see table from the blog below).


Changes in the Way Institutions Use Prior Learning Assessment
Capella University published a report about how the institution is using and expanding PLA. The report also provided background and data around PLA use nationally and recommendations for others to broadly support PLA.
Actionable Data to Support Community College Transfer Among Latinx Students
Five years of case study research is shared in this article from the Planning for Higher Education journal. Unfortunately, the article is only available at this time to those who have access to the journal.
U.S. Higher Education Marketplace Offers Nearly a Million Credentials
Researchers from Credential Engine report that more than half a million badges, certificates, and apprenticeships are offered in the U.S. by non-postsecondary entities. Colleges and Universities offered more than 350,000. Their data includes the number of credentials awarded by state and discussion about 16 credential categories. An invitation to participate in the credential registry is also included as the authors stress the importance of transparency of educational credentials for consumers.

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