|Title:||The Effects of Institutional Practices on Postsecondary Trajectories—Matriculation, Persistence, and Time-to-Degree|
|Principal Investigator:||Kurlaender, Michal||Awardee:||University of California, Davis|
|Program:||Postsecondary and Adult Education [Program Details]|
|Award Period:||2 years||Award Amount:||$470,808|
Purpose: College completion rates remain significantly lower for minority students and for those students who come from poor or modest economic backgrounds than for white and relatively advantaged students. Unfortunately, relatively little is known about the effects of postsecondary institutional practices on college completion. In this project, researchers examine the effects of three practices on college persistence and completion. First, using a recently implemented Early Assessment Program, 11th-graders who do not meet a minimum criterion on the California Standards Test are provided with recommendations for courses to take in their senior year to better prepare them for college. Does this practice reduce the probability of students needing remedial coursework in college? Second, when college students who do not meet a minimum criterion on college placement exams are required to take remedial courses in their first year, does this practice improve college persistence and time-to-degree completion? Third, given enrollment constraints and overcrowding at many large four-year institutions, students may be unable to enroll in one or more courses due to course capacity constraints when they register. How do institutional course scheduling constraints relate to students' four-year college completion trajectories?
Project Activities: This project investigates the relation of three institutional practices—information in high school about the likelihood of requiring college remediation, remediation itself, and postsecondary course scheduling—to students' college persistence and time to degree.
Products: Products from this project include published reports of the evaluations of three interventions intended to improve access to and completion of postsecondary education among underprepared students.
Purpose: In this project, researchers examine the effects of three institutional practices on college persistence and completion.
Setting: Three public postsecondary institutions in California and Texas are participating in the study.
Population: The population includes: all 11th-graders who take the mandatory California Standards Test at 10 school districts in California over a five- year period (2002-2007), college entrants at two universities in California and Texas who took remedial tests for course placements, and all students enrolled at a third university in California between fall 2007 and summer 2009.
Intervention: In this project, the researchers investigate three institutional practices that may influence student persistence and degree completion: providing high school juniors who do not meet minimum criteria on the California Standards Test with recommendations for courses to take in their senior year to better prepare them for college, requiring students who do not meet minimum criteria on a college placement exam to take remedial courses in their first year, and institutional course scheduling constraints.
Research Design and Methods: The research team plans to investigate the long-term outcomes associated with each of these institutional practices.
For the first project, the research team will employ an interrupted time-series design, using outcomes that have been adjusted for differences in student and school characteristics, to evaluate the effects of providing 11th-graders with course-taking advice on their subsequent postsecondary performance, including English and math placement test results (if taken), remedial course-taking, college GPA by semester, and persistence (either full- and part-time) in subsequent semesters. The control group consists of high school juniors that attended California State University feeder high schools in 2002 and 2003, the years prior to the implementation of the early feedback treatment. The treatment group consists of high school juniors who attended the same set of California State University feeder high schools in 2004, 2005, and 2006, the years following the implementation of the early feedback policy.
For the second project, the research team will use a regression discontinuity design to compare students who are very close to, but on opposite sides of the pass/fail threshold of the remediation placement test. Any differences in the academic outcomes between students who received remediation (the treatment group) and students who did not (the control group) can be attributed to the effect of receiving remediation. For both remedial and nonremedial students, the researchers will observe their enrollment patterns in subsequent semesters, their course-taking patterns, and additional academic outcomes including college GPA by semester, choice of major, and time to degree completion.
For the third project, the research team will use an experimental design to evaluate the unique effect of registration constraints on student outcomes by exploiting the process that leads to registration opportunities during each term, mainly students' random draws (within class standing) for time slots in the registration process. The researchers will investigate this research question in three steps: first, by establishing whether randomized registration appointments lead students to get shut out of desired courses; second, by testing whether credit accumulation is more irregular because of course shut-outs; and third, by investigating whether this results in lower completion rates and longer times to degree. The researchers will use this data to track four cohorts of students (by class standing) each term for two years in order to evaluate both short-term (credit accumulation) and long-term (completion and time to degree) outcomes. Tracking cohorts that vary in their cumulative credits at baseline will allow the researchers to investigate the various mechanisms by which scheduling constraints could exert an effect on academic outcomes.
Key Measures: Key measures include 11th-grade performance on the mandatory California Standards Test, as well as information from the participating institutions on enrollment, English and math placement test results, remedial course-taking, course registration, academic performance, persistence (either full- and part-time) in subsequent semesters, and time-to-graduation.
Data Analytic Strategy: Data analyses include difference-in-difference estimation, regression discontinuity modeling, multivariate regression, and discrete time survival analysis.
Journal article, monograph, or newsletter
Howell, J., Kurlaender, M., and Grodsky, E. (2010). Postsecondary Preparation and Remediation: Examining the Effect of the Early Assessment Program at California State University. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 29(4): 726–748.