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Scalable Strategies to Support College Completion Network


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FY Awards

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The Men of Color College Achievement (MoCCA) Project

Year: 2016
Name of Institution:
Goal: Development and Evaluation
Principal Investigator:
Richburg-Hayes, Lashawn
Award Amount: $3,980,372
Award Period: 5 years (1/1/2016-12/31/2020)
Award Number: R305N160025


Program: Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Education Policy and Practice

Role: Research Team

Partner: Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC):
In partnership with administrators and staff at CCBC, the research team is working to refine and evaluate a college success course combined with a set of services designed to boost college success for male students of color.

Related Network Teams: College Completion Network Lead (PI: Eric Bettinger, R305N170003); Nudges to the Finish Line: Experimental Interventions to Prevent Late College Departure (PI: Benjamin Castleman, R305N160026); Affording Degree Completion: A Study of Completion Grants at Accessible Public Universities (PI: Sara Goldrick-Rab, R305N170020); A Scalable Growth Mindset Intervention to Raise Achievement and Persistence in Community College (PI: Gregory Walton, R305A150253); An Experimental Evaluation of Corequisite Developmental Education in Texas (PI: Trey Miller, R305H170085)

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 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: In partnership with the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), this research team will refine and evaluate a college success course combined with a set of services designed to boost the success of male students of color. This project addresses the problem that college completion rates for men of color at open- and broad-access postsecondary institutions lag behind completion rates for most other students. The team will complete both development and evaluation activities for an intervention that aims to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation for male students of color. The intervention combines a contextualized student success course (Academic Development 101 for Men of Color-ACDV) and a mentorship program (the Male Student Success Initiative-MSSI). The goals of this project are to: (1) refine the combined ACDV-MSSI intervention in order to coordinate and align its support for male students of color; and (2) evaluate its effectiveness to assess whether it increases the percentage of male students of color who complete an associate degree or transfer to a 4-year college or university.

Project Activities: The research team will work with CCBC to refine ACDV-MSSI and then evaluate its impact, implementation, and cost. During the development phase of the project, the research team will observe ACDV-MSSI implementation, assess it in relation to best practices from the research literature, and work with CCBC to align implementation with best practices. During the evaluation phase (spring 2019 – fall 2020), researchers will randomly assign students to ACDV-MSSI (treatment group) or business-as-usual campus-based support services (control group). Also during this phase, researchers will conduct an in-depth mixed methods study using quantitative and qualitative measures to learn more about students' backgrounds, their experiences at CCBC, and their experiences with ACDV-MSSI. The research team will track student progression through college for two years. During the final stage of the project, researchers will analyze the collected data, produce an evaluation report, and disseminate findings to policymakers and practitioners.

Products: The products from this project will include a revised intervention, an issue focus brief, an implementation report, a web-posted final report with implementation and evaluation findings, and a submission to a peer-reviewed journal. The project will also help to increase capacity at CCBC to implement the intervention at a larger scale.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project takes place at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), a multi-campus, open-access community college located in Baltimore County, Maryland.

Sample: The sample will include approximately 600 college freshmen who self-identify as males of color.

Intervention: ACDV-MSSI combines two interventions: Academic Development 101 (ACDV 101), a mandatory one-credit college transition course for male students of color, and the Male Student Success Initiative (MSSI), a mentoring program. ACDV 101 for Men of Color provides contextualized course materials for male students of color and is typically taught by African-American male instructors with training in stereotype threat and implicit bias. ACDV 101 for Men of Color offers information on CCBC’s supports and services, and seeks to facilitate students’ development of social capital by helping them connect with and build relationships with CCBC’s student support services staff. The course instructors provide support to students in navigating life issues that disproportionately affect male students of color, and encourage community building within the class. The MSSI mentoring program employs dedicated CCBC staff (also known as Success Mentors) to provide one-on-one mentoring and academic coaching to students. Success Mentors also refer students to specific college staff and faculty for tutoring, academic counseling, financial aid, or other services as appropriate, encouraging them to seek out and successfully obtain help. Additionally, MSSI hosts a variety of workshops and other activities designed to assist with students’ academic, professional, financial, and socio-emotional development. ACDV-MSSI functions as one integrated program geared to build social capital and improve academic outcomes for male students of color.

Research Design and Methods: The project will employ a randomized control trial (RCT) impact study and use a mixed-methods approach to assess implementation fidelity, the service contrast between treatment and control groups, the impact of the program on student outcomes, and cost effectiveness.

Control Condition: The control condition will include “business-as-usual” support services available to students at CCBC. During the evaluation, control group students will not have access to register for any section of ACDV 101 for Men of Color during their first two semesters of college, and will not have access to services offered exclusively to students in the combined ACDV-MSSI program.

Key Measures: Researchers will construct measures of service uptake and dosage level for all ACDV-MSSI program components as well as support services taken up by control group students. Researchers will construct qualitative measures to track the fidelity of implementation of ACDV-MSSI, and to describe the institutional context in which the program operates. Researchers will use a baseline survey to measure student and background characteristics at the beginning of the study, and will administer an additional survey during the evaluation stage to measure treatment group students’ perceptions of and interactions with ACDV-MSSI as well as control group students’ perceptions of the business-as-usual services. The latter survey will include the main hypothesized mediators of the intervention’s effectiveness: student academic self-efficacy; positive on-campus relationships; and a sense of belonging on campus. Outcome measures will include short-term measures of course completions, credits earned, and GPA, as well as long-term measures of year-to-year persistence, transfer, and graduation. Researchers will collect course- and degree-completion data from CCBC as well as enrollment and degree-completion data from the National Student Clearinghouse.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use standard difference-of-means tests as well as OLS regression to compare differences across the treatment and control groups. Using an exploratory mediation analysis, the research team will examine whether ACDV-MSSI affects hypothesized mediators. Researchers will use an implementation analysis to assess whether treatment impacts are larger with increased fidelity to the program.