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IES Grant

Title: College Completion Network Lead
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Bettinger, Eric Awardee: Stanford University
Program: Scalable Strategies to Support College Completion Network      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (1/1/2017-12/31/2021) Award Amount: $1,999,122
Goal: Other Goal Award Number: R305N170003

Co-Principal Investigator: Trey Miller

Role: Network Lead

A Research Network involves several teams of researchers who are working together to address a critical education problem or issue. The objective is to encourage information sharing, build new knowledge, and assist policymakers and practitioners to strengthen education policies and programs and improve student education outcomes. The College Completion Network is evaluating promising strategies for moving students at open- and broad-access postsecondary institutions beyond college enrollment and entry-level courses to degree completion. Each network research team is evaluating a specific intervention strategy.

Purpose: The College Completion Network Lead will provide the organizational structure needed to ensure that the College Completion Network runs smoothly and accomplishes its goals and objectives. The Network Lead will coordinate annual meetings of the entire Network as well as ongoing working group meetings focused on crucial completion-related topics. The Lead will conduct independent research to inform the network and the broader public, including a review of current college completion research and a synthesis of findings from NCER-funded projects focusing on college completion. The Lead will disseminate findings from Research Teams by maintaining a high-quality website, assisting Teams with presenting their research on the website, and by facilitating additional collaborative dissemination activities among teams.

Network Leadership Activities: The leadership activities of the College Completion Network Lead comprise six primary functions:

  1. Network Meetings. The Network Lead will host two in-person meetings in year 1, and one in-person meeting in years 2 through 5. The Network Lead will also coordinate the meetings and activities of six working groups, each of which will address a strategy for increasing college completion.
  2. Independent Research to Inform the Network. The Network Lead will conduct a systematic review of the literature on at least one intervention strategy designed to improve college students' academic performance, persistence, and degree completion at open- and broad-access institutions.
  3. A Network Website. The Network Lead will develop and maintain a Network website to support communication among Network team members and disseminate research findings to policymakers, practitioners, and the broader public. The website will serve as a clearinghouse for the Network's resources, research papers, and products.
  4. Supplementary Activities. The Network Lead will collaborate with Network members to identify topics and issues suitable for supplementary activities (e.g., research and/or dissemination) which will be jointly undertaken by Network members. The Lead will coordinate applications to IES for supplementary projects, and when projects are funded, will coordinate the work of Network Teams to complete the approved work.
  5. A Synthesis of Network Findings. The Network Lead will conduct a synthesis of key findings from the evaluations completed by the Research Teams, as well as other relevant IES-funded postsecondary research projects. The synthesis will categorize and describe the research funded to date, discuss the similarities and differences in findings across studies, and identify future steps for research.
  6. Research Products and Dissemination. The Network Lead will draw upon advice from a Stakeholder Advisory Group (including policymakers and college administrators) to target findings and research products to specific audiences likely to be interested in them. The stakeholders will help each of the working groups distill and hone their products' key messages. The Network Lead will ensure that the final research products (e.g. briefs, reports, and online resources) are accurate, clear, and accessible to a range of users. Target audiences will include policymakers, practitioners, and researchers. Separate products may be produced with each audience in mind.  

In addition to these six core functions, the Network Lead will provide opportunities for participation and leadership by early career scholars, including post-doctoral investigators and graduate students, to help develop long-term research capacity in the field.

Products: The Network Lead will engage in ongoing dissemination activities with other members of the Network to develop products that explain factors that support students' progression through college and inform policy and practice. Products will include the Network website, briefs and reports for policymakers and practitioners, infographics, videos, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations for a range of stakeholders.

Research Teams: There are currently two Research Teams within the College Completion Network: Assessing the Efficacy of the University System of Georgia's African-American Male Initiative (PI: Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, R305160025). This Research Team is working with the University System of Georgia (USG), and five broad-access institutions within it, to revise and evaluate the African American Male Initiative, a multi-component intervention strategy aimed at increasing degree completion among African American males at USG institutions. The strategy includes academic skills enrichment, advising and student support services, adult-to-student and peer-to-peer mentoring, and leadership development through campus-based organizations.  

Nudges to the Finish Line: Experimental Interventions to Prevent Late College Departure (PI: Benjamin Castleman, R305160026). This Research Team is working with eight open- and broad-access colleges and universities across the U.S. to develop and evaluate informational campaigns that provide college-success information to students who have completed at least one half of the credits required for graduation, with the intent of maintaining the persistence and ensuring the degree completion of these "near completers." The campaigns comprise informational text messages targeted to all students, interactive text messages designed to elicit a response or offer an opportunity to engage with an adviser, and personalized text messages targeted to students at specific stages of their academic careers.