Dr. James Benson
In FY 2016, the Institute initiated a new grant program, Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Policy and Practice, to focus resources and attention on education problems or issues that are high priorities for the nation, and to create both a structure and process for researchers who are working on these issues to share ideas, build new knowledge, and strengthen their research and dissemination capacity. Each Network consists of several research teams working on the same issue, and is coordinated by a Network Lead. The ultimate objective of each Network is to advance the field's understanding of a problem or issue beyond what an individual research project or team is able to do on its own, and to assist policymakers and practitioners in using this information to strengthen education policies and programs and improve student education outcomes.
The Scalable Strategies to Support College Completion Network (College Completion Network) is focused on the problem of low college completion rates. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that only about half of the degree-seeking students who enter open- and broad-access institutions (including community colleges and four-year colleges and universities that accept 75 percent or more of their applicants) earn a degree or certificate within six years. The College Completion Network is helping such institutions develop and evaluate interventions designed to increase degree attainment. The Network is concentrating on interventions that are currently operating or have the potential to operate on a large scale. The College Completion Network comprises five Network Research Teams and a Network Lead, as follows:
College Completion Network Lead
Principal Investigator: Eric Bettinger (Stanford University):
The Network Lead convenes the full Network and working groups, conducts independent research, publicizes team activities through a website and social media, and synthesizes team findings.
Nudges to the Finish Line: Experimental Interventions to Prevent Late College Departure
Principal Investigators: Benjamin Castleman (University of Virginia), Eric Bettinger (Stanford University):
Partners: City University of New York, Virginia Community College System, Ohio University, U. Washington-Tacoma:
The Nudges text messaging campaign targets students who have completed at least half of the credits needed to complete their degree goal, and sends personalized text messages with information, reminders, encouragement, and guidance designed to help students achieve their goal.
Assessing the Efficacy of the University System of Georgia's African-American Male Initiative (AAMI)
Principal Investigator: Lashawn Richburg-Hayes (MDRC):
Partner: University System of Georgia:
The USG's AAMI program connects first-year African American male students with four main supports: academic skills enrichment; enhanced support services; structured mentoring; and leadership and professional development workshops.
Affording Degree Completion: A Study of Completion Grants at Accessible Public Universities
Principal Investigators: Sara Goldrick-Rab and Douglas Webber (Temple), Shari Garmise and Travis York (APLU) :
Partner: Association of Public and Land-grant Universities:
Completion grants target students within one year of completing a Bachelor's degree, and combine a modest amount of financial aid ($500-$1500) with the requirement to make use of campus-based supports (e.g. academic advising), and a commitment from the student to complete their degree.
A Scalable Growth Mindset Intervention to Raise Achievement and Persistence in Community College
Principal Investigators: Gregory Walton, Carol Dweck, and Thomas Dee (Stanford University):
Partners: Santa Monica College, Ivy Tech Community Colleges of Indiana:
This short intervention, assigned to students in developmental and gateway math courses, begins with an article about how brain functioning improves when students confront new challenges, engage multiple learning strategies, and seek out advice from peers and instructors. Students internalize the article's message by writing advice to a friend based on it.
An Experimental Evaluation of Accelerated Pathways through Developmental Education
Principal Investigators: Trey Miller (AIR) and Lindsay Daugherty (RAND):
Partner: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board:
The acceleration intervention applies to students who score somewhat (but not far) below Texas' college-readiness threshold. Colleges place these students directly into college-level English courses coupled with one hour per week of additional support (e.g. a weekly lab or required tutoring).
The Institute is not accepting new applications for the College Completion Network.