• AACRAO Eye on Research March 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Mar 27, 2017

    Commentary – A Call for 60-Second Survey Ideas

    Our next 60-Second survey is scheduled for May, and I’d love to hear about what topics are of interest to you.  Please email me directly at wendyk@aacrao.org with your ideas.  These ideas can include updating the 60-Second survey topics from late 2014 and early 2015.

    AACRAO Research Insights

    We just completed the March 60-Second survey on managerial coaching practices and interest in being and AACRAO mentee or mentor. Key findings are included below.

    Key Findings 

    • More than half reported holding a master’s degree, and this value does not vary much by institutional control or position level.
    • The mean years employed at the current institution is 11.81.
    • The mean years working for the current supervisor is 3.59.
    • Almost half reported interest in being matched with an AACRAO mentor; nearly the same percentage reported interest in serving as an AACRAO mentor.
    • Encouragingly, more than half report that their supervisors model the following coaching behaviors –
      • “Encourages me to broaden my perspectives by helping me see the big picture”
      • “Provides me with constructive feedback”
      • “Provides me with resources so I can perform my job more effectively”
      • “To help me think through issues, my supervisor asks questions, rather than provides solutions.”

    As mentioned in February’s blog, AACRAO partnered with four higher education associations--the Institute of International Education (IIE), the International Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators--in February 2017 to launch an inter-associational member survey. Due to the increased and continued focus on immigration issues, an early release of key findings is available today to help institutions forecast and prepare for what might lie ahead. “International Applicants for Fall 2017 – Institutional & Applicant Perceptions” is intended to be a snapshot of international student and family perceptions, as well as institutional activities. 

    Key Findings

    • 39% of responding institutions reported a decline in international applications; 35% reported an increase; and 26% reported no change in applicant numbers.
    • 39% of institutions have reported declines in undergraduate applications for Fall 2017 from the Middle East
    • Institutions reported that applications from India and China have also been impacted. Open Doors 2016 indicates that these two countries currently make up 47% of our international student enrollment, with almost half a million students studying in the United States.

    "The survey results suggest a rising level of concern on the part of institutions that fall enrollments in the United States may be impacted by perceptions that the U.S. is becoming less welcoming of international students,” said Michael Reilly, Executive Director, AACRAO. “Institutions are struggling to reassure students that their studies or travels will not be disrupted by future policy changes during this period of tremendous uncertainty."

    Upcoming AACRAO Research

    The student survey for the community college completion initiatives research project examining the impact on the institution and on student success has deployed, and we met our goal of 1,000 student responses.  The institutional survey was shared with almost 700 community college leaders on March 20th.  We have asked institutional respondents to volunteer for in-depth interviews on the topic.  Jacob, our research intern, is busy working on the comprehensive literature review to support this report.  Based on the feedback on the draft institutional survey, there appears to be considerable interest in examining the college completion initiatives in this manner. 

    The undergraduate grading survey closed on March 24th with more than 550 U.S. institutions completing the survey.  The graduate grading practices survey will be deployed in late April or early May. The data gathered from the closed and open-ended questions in these surveys will be used to update the 2004 AACRAO publication on the same topic.  

    This summer we will roll out an updated survey on the career paths of Chief Enrollment Management Officers.  We last completed a survey on this topic in 2014 and it is our intent to update the career profile surveys once every three years.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    NCES First Look Report on Graduation Rates, Outcome Measures, Student Financial Aid, and Admissions in Postsecondary Institutions for Selected Cohorts 

    A just released “First Look Report” covering a wide-range of topics highlights the following findings, among others:

    • Graduation rates
      • Approximately 59% of first-time, full-time (FTFT) students at four-year institutions who started in 2009 had earned a bachelor’s degree or equivalent within six years at the institution where they started.
    • Student financial aid
      • For FTFT students attending college in 2014-2015, the net price of attendance was as follows:
        • Public 4-year: $12,400
        • Nonprofit 4-year: $21,900
        • For-profit 4-year: $22,100
    • Admissions
      • Approximately 1.6 million students enrolled in Title IV non-open-admissions institutions for fall 2015 yielded from approximately 10 million applications.

    National Student Clearinghouse – Yearly Success and Progress Rates

    The National Student Clearinghouse report on the yearly success and progression of FTFT across all institutional sectors shows a slightly higher six-year graduation rate (61.1%) for the 2010-2012 cohort than the NCES first look report on the 2009-2012 four-year institutional cohort. The six-year graduation rate for first-time, part-time is not as rosy at 38.3%.  The report further disaggregates this data by institutional sector.

    American Council on Education: Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes, and Institutional Finances

    The American Council on Education released a white paper entitled Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Finances.  This white paper explores the relationship between instructional quality and institutional net revenue.  Profiles (case studies) of four institutions were included.  These profiles focus on the systematic efforts of these institutions to increase net institutional revenue through improvements in instructional quality.  Descriptive evidence is provided.

    Three Waves of International Student Mobility (1999-2020)

    A recent article in Studies in Higher Education examines international student mobility through the lens of “three waves,” each defined by key events: Wave 1 by the events of September 11, 2001; Wave 2 by the global recession; and Wave 3 by the downturn in the Chinese economy, Brexit and the American Presidential election.  Based on his consideration of enrollment trends, the author notes that “underlying drivers and characteristics of the three waves suggest that institutions are under increasing financial and competitive pressure to attract and retain international students” and that they must innovate to remain competitive. 

    Alternative Credentials: Prior Learning 2.0

    The Online Learning Consortium Research Center for Digital Learning & Leadership released the results of their study.  This study aimed to “provide a better understanding of how adult learning institutions address students who possess alternative credentials and seek to apply these experiences to a degree.”  Six U.S. higher education institutions participated in the case studies, which provide a foundation of knowledge on the topic. 

    The Maturation of Mobile and Social: The 2017 Social Admissions Report

    Chegg and TargetX released a report highlighting their findings including:

    • 93% of respondents use at least one college search or review site
    • 4 in 5 use those sites to research scholarship information and 2 in 3 to research financial aid
    • Almost three-quarters use the same site to review general admissions information
    • Prospective students report using several social media platforms in their college search process

     Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/maturation-mobile-social-admissions-marketing-gil-rogers 
    Three New Publications from CAPSEE 

    Does the Federal Work-Study Program Really Word and for Whom?

    This brief discusses recent research on the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program. The authors examine the program’s impact at public and private institutions, and disparities in how those institutions are funded. They further examine how FWS and funding disparities may influence student success. They also offer potential policy solutions to address some areas of concern they identify.

    The Impact of Pell Grant Eligibility on Community College Student’s Financial Aid Packages, Labor Supply, and Academic Outcomes

    This paper examines various effects of Pell grant eligibility on community college students. Through deep statistical analysis, the authors look at how Pell grant awards affect other student aid, including student borrowing and other forms of state aid. The paper also investigates how Pell affects student enrollment decisions and employment while in school. Much of the paper focusses on the differences between institutions that offer loans and those that do not.

    What We Know about Technology-Mediated Advising Reform

    This document summarizes CRCC research on how community colleges and open-access 4-year institutions are technology-mediated advising reform. 

    New Study: Improving Admission of Low-SES Students at Selective Colleges

    In the new issue of Educational Researcher, Drs. Bastedo and Hillman conducted an experimental simulation to determine if increased information on high school context increases the likelihood that admissions officers would recommend low-SES applicants for admission. The sample included 311 admissions officers at institutions in the top three tiers of Barron’s (2013) ratings on selectivity. Findings show that admissions officers in the detailed-information condition were 26%–28% more likely to recommend admitting low-SES applicants than those in the limited-information control group, which still received detailed information on student SES and high school context.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research February 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Feb 28, 2017

    A Welcome

    I’d like to introduce our new research intern, Jacob Wilson.  Jacob I. Wilson is a Ph.D. student at The University of Arizona's Center for the Study of Higher Education. Jacob teaches in the Leadership Studies program and works in Greek life at UA. His research interests include institutional efforts to promote and enhance democratic learning and engagement, community colleges and policy. He completed the “Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics” section in this month’s blog.  He and I will collaborate over the course of the next several months to complete the comprehensive project on the impact and effectiveness of the college completion agenda on community colleges. 

    AACRAO Research Insights

    We have two surveys in the field right now.  The first is a survey of undergraduate grading practices that we will use to update the 2004 AACRAO publication on the same topic.  Several hundred institutions have responded to date, and the survey will remain open through late March.  A very preliminary look at the data so far highlights the variety in grading practices at the undergraduate level. A similar survey on graduate grading practices will be distributed later this spring. 

    The second survey is an inter-organizational project between AACRAO, IIE, IACAC, NACAC, NAFSA and the College Board seeking institutional feedback on the state of international student recruitment and yield for fall 2017.  The survey asks if the institution is hearing any concerns from international students and/or their families.  The results of this survey will be available next month.

    Upcoming AACRAO Research

    We have just kicked-off the comprehensive college completion project.  We expect to start collecting data and conducting interviews by late March and early April. Next month’s 60-Second survey will be open to responses from all members and will invite insights into coaching and mentorship and interest in either serving as a mentor or being matched with one.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    The Results are In: Inside Higher Ed’s 2017 Chief Academic Officers Survey

    The results for the 2017 Inside Higher Ed survey of Chief Academic Officers (CAOs) show a mix of optimism and skepticism among the 654 Provosts and CAOs who participated. While the vast majority (86%) of respondents believe the academic health of their institutions is excellent or good, there are concerns over faculty diversity, with 62% of respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing that their institution will need to make hiring decisions differently in order to increase the number of minority faculty members. The survey was conducted by Gallup and includes 12 additional topic areas, and their findings, including:

    • Liberal Arts Education
    • Competency-Based Education
    • Assessment Programs
    • Diversity in Curriculum
    • Trigger Warnings
    • Scholarship and Leadership

    Early Momentum Metrics: Why They Matter for College Improvement

    In this Community College Research Center research brief, David Jenkins and Thomas Bailey propose three metrics of “early momentum” that institutions can use to measure whether reforms are enhancing student outcomes. The authors propose Credit Momentum, Gateway Momentum and Program Momentum as near-term metrics that, research is beginning to show, can predict long-term success.

    “Let Parents Be Parents” – An Appeal to Simplify Parent Involvement in Administrative Bureaucracy

    In his commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Eric Johnson appeals to college administrators to ease the burden placed on parents of first-generation and low-income students. Johnson challenges campuses to consider simplifying the systems in place, from purchasing parking permits and selecting meal plans to paying tuition bills and registering for classes. Johnson writes, “First-generation parents don’t need more instruction on the college process. Colleges need to require less of it.” After all, he says, colleges build fundraising websites that do not require multi-part tutorials before accepting a donation by credit card.

    2017 CAPSEE Conference April 6-7 in Washington, DC

    “Making the Right Investments in College” is the theme of this year’s Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) conference. CAPSEE is a consortium of scholars from seven universities housed and led by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

    Each year more than $500 billion is spent on higher education. The conference will focus on:
    • Are students making investments that will improve their economic futures?
    • Is public funding of college efficient?
    • Are colleges organized so that these investments yield the highest returns?

    Visit the CAPSEE Center for more about the conference and how to register.

    The To & Through Project – Busting Myths about High School & College Success

    The University of Chicago’s To & Through Project has developed a resource that aims to challenge and bust myths related to student success with data and research. Here are a few myths – check out the resource guide to get the facts. Some myths addressed include:

    MYTH: ACT and SAT scores are the most important indicator of success in college
    MYTH: As long as a student’s grades are strong enough to graduate high school, GPAs don’t really matter
    MYTH: Starting at a 2-year college provides the same opportunity to a 4-year degree as starting at a 4-year college

    Department of ED Releases a First Look of New Report

    The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) released a First Look report with provisional 2015-16 IPEDS data. The report is titled Enrollment and Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2015; and Financial Statistics and Academic Libraries, Fiscal Year 2015: First Look. Select findings include:
    • Characteristics of Enrolled Students
    • Revenues and Expenses of Title IV Entities
    • Employees in Postsecondary Institutions
    • Academic Library Collections

    Unpacking Relationships – Instruction and Student Outcomes

    What role do instructors and instruction play in student learning and outcomes? According to a new paper published by ACE, what faculty members do and how instruction occurs matter a great deal. This paper explores five intersecting areas between student outcomes and instruction including transparency, pedagogical approaches, assessment, self-regulation and alignment. The author recommends support for instructors to create more active and student-centered learning methods.

    Call for Volunteers

    EAB’s Enrollment Management Forum, in partnership with The New School, is studying the effects of transcript request denials on students and their degree aspirations. Do transcript denials accomplish the intended effect of triggering bill payment? To what degree do they also lead to the unintended consequence of preventing a student in financial distress from pursuing education closer to home or at a more affordable institution?
    To complete this study we need you. Will your institution participate by sending data on transcript request denials? All data will be kept confidential and anonymous. Participating institutions will receive a customized institution-specific analysis in addition to the final, blinded, aggregate report.
    Below are the data requested, for each student that submitted but was denied a transcript due to a financial hold. Partial datasets are welcome.
    • Was the balance was paid following transcript denial (yes/no)
    • The size of the unpaid balance
    • Annual net price to student
    • Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)
    • G.P.A.
    • Credit hours earned
    • Is this a first-generation college student?
    • For students who do not pay, do NSC data indicate they enrolled elsewhere (yes/no)?

    Any data provided should be stripped of personally identifying information, including student ID numbers, names, and addresses. Please contact EAB at dstrait@eab.com with data, questions, or concerns.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research January 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Jan 30, 2017


    A Perspective on Student Records Management

    Teresita Flores, J.D., is providing this month’s commentary on student records management practices.  I would like to encourage others to provide guest commentaries on AACRAO research or other higher education related research of interest to the community. Please contact me if you are interested in contributing.

    From my perspective, and in my experience, it is unnecessary to retain documents any longer than required by the governing law or regulation that applies to that document. In higher education institutions, there should be records retention schedules that are separated by the part of the business that is in question. One body of law applies to employment records retention; another governs financial records. Education records, as that term is meant in a FERPA context, present an entirely separate body of concerns. What unifies these documents is the importance of an existing body of established business practices for documents retention. I find it notable that your research revealed almost half (46%) do not purge any student records or only purge some records in accordance with the student records retention policy and/or schedule. This is a significant issue.

    Unnecessary documents retention comes with a number of costs and risks. In a legal context, the problem with excessive documents retention is the risk of liability. Liability can show up in a variety of ways, further complicating matters. If an institution retains documents longer than required by the governing law or internal policy, then it becomes responsible for that decision. For example, if there is a public records request, the institution has an obligation to respond in a timely fashion. Excessive documents retention could hinder the institution’s ability to do that. Documents subject to subpoena must be produced, but only if they exist. If the institution has retained every document, including report or investigation drafts as well as completed final documents, all the documents that exist are required for production. If document destruction had occurred as allowed or as prescribed by law or policy, the document would not be available to produce as a matter of regular business practice. Responses to subpoenas must also be timely, and the institution runs into the same problem as under the request for public records. Absent ongoing litigation, if a document no longer serves a business or public purpose and the institution retains it past the time dictated by law and policy, the institution has literally decided to increase its costs and the risks associated with discovery of documents. The best practice is simple: Follow the law or regulation applicable to the type of business document in question, and definitely follow your own policies. To do otherwise invites significant risk of liability that could have been appropriately and lawfully avoided.

    Teresita M. Flores, JD, SPHR
    Dr. Flores is currently a consultant working with leaders and CEOs on compliance, training, investigations and HR. Formerly she was a higher education administrator responsible for legal affairs, human resources, EEO/AA/ADA, public records and copyright, and grants/contracts compliance.

    AACRAO Research Insights

    More than 1,000 institutions responded to the 60-Second Survey on Student Records Management Practices.  The results are highlighted below and the full report is here.

    • Nearly all (94%) of the responding institutions have a student records management schedule and/or policy.
    • Nearly all (97%) identify the transcript as a permanent document.
    • Almost three quarters (73%) of institutions with a policy and/or schedule use AACRAO guidelines as a student records management practice resource.
    • More than half (59%) have a single records management document that covers both policy and the retention schedule.
    • Document retention periods vary considerably among institutions.
    • The institution’s SIS/ERP is identified as the official source of student records for fewer than half (46%) of respondents. Fifteen percent (15%) still identify paper as the official copy, and 19% identify the scanned paper copy as the official record..
    • More than 8 in 10 (84%) retain more than one copy of a student record for all or at least some current student records..
    • Almost half (46%) do not purge any student records or only purge some records in accordance with the student records management policy and/or schedule. .
    • For most (71%) the office who “owns the record” is responsible for purging the records.

    Upcoming AACRAO Research

    The AACRAO research agenda for the next few months includes the following:

    • A comprehensive undergraduate grading practices survey to update the data collected for the 2004 AACRAO book on the same subject
    • A 60-Second survey on the availability of mentorship in the workplace and related topics
    • Impact of the college completion agenda at community colleges

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Encouraging a Sense of Belonging Improves Outcomes in MOOCS for Certain At-Risk Learners

    In the October 2016 Eye on Research, I mentioned the lay-theory intervention that helped incoming freshmen overcome doubt that they have the means to succeed in college.  Dr. Geoffrey L. Cohen, one of the authors of that study, has collaborated with others on a similar set of field experiments to improve success in MOOCS.  Similar to the original study, the authors randomly assigned students from less-developed countries (LDCs) and more-developed countries (MDCs) enrolled in MOOCS in one of three conditions: “the value relevance affirmation, the social belonging intervention, or the control condition . . .”  The interventions had a positive effect on persistence for students from LDCs but a negative effect on students from MDCs.  The author’s look to prior research as an explanation for this difference.

    CAPSEE White Paper - Estimating Returns to College Attainment: Comparing Survey and State Administrative Data-Based Estimates

    Using recent data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997) the authors of this CAPSEE white paper developed a new estimates of returns to college attainment and how college degree attainment relates to interstate mobility.  They also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using survey data versus state administrative data for estimating returns to college.  Findings include:

    • “relative to high school credentials only, there are substantial returns to bachelor’s and associate degree, as well as to enrollment in four-year colleges without obtaining a degree”
    • There are “positive effects on other labor market outcomes including likelihood of employment, full-time, full-year employment, and earning an annual ‘living wage’”
    • “four-year college enrollees and graduates are significantly more likely to work outside of their home state after college”

    CAPSEE White Paper - How and Why Do Adjunct Instructors Affect Student’s Academic Outcomes? Evidence from Two-Year and Four-Year Colleges

    The authors of this white paper used two statistical models to estimate the impact on student outcomes based on the type of instructor a student had at their initial exposure to a topic. The results suggest that introductory courses taught by adjuncts have a positive impact on introductory course grades.  However, the opposite was found to be true for subsequent course enrollment and performance.  Instructor demographics such as highest degree attainment, full-time employment and previous non-teaching working experience, can largely explain the estimated differences.

    Coursera Maps Learning Regions Based on Online Course Topics

    The image below was produced by Coursera.  They used the relative popularity of their online courses to create topical interest regions.

    Source: https://about.coursera.org/united-states-of-knowledge

  • AACRAO Eye on Research December 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Dec 21, 2016


    As I have noted before, we regularly receive questions from our members about how their policy and/or practices compare to other institutions.  While these questions influence the content of the 60-Second surveys, we believe it would be useful to our members and ongoing research to have an AACRAO policy library.  With your help, we will start building the library in 2017.  The content will be provided by and available to AACRAO members.  Beginning in early 2017, we will begin to ask the primary contacts at your institution to respond to a series of brief surveys that include a document upload feature.  Once collected the policy documents will be categorized and tagged to enable them to be searched by keywords in the library.  We will also establish procedures to support the ability for institutions to update their policies as applicable.   Please let me know if you have any questions about this project (wendyk@aacrao.org).

    I received an email announcement for the Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) at the Ohio State University Affiliates and Fellows Program, and thought I would share the opportunity.  This program is designed to connect researchers conducting social science research on student success.  The deadline for applying is February 1, 2017.  Benefits of the program include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • “Eligibility to apply for seed grants to support student success research
    • A $500 annual stipend for research purposes
    • Opportunities to collaborate on mutually beneficial research projects and grants, scholarly publications, and outreach programs
    • Opportunity to request special access to CHEE data for scholarly purposes
    • Professional biographical statement and photo included on CHEE’s website and promotional material”

    Eligibility requirements include the following:
    • “Tenured/Tenure-track faculty members
    • Administrators at research universities or in research-related positions
    • Earned doctorate degree from an accredited college/university”

    AACRAO Research Insights

    The just-released AACRAO report on the career profile of U.S. Chief Admissions Officers provided the following insights among others.  A chief admissions officer in the United States likely has these characteristics:

    • is between 35 and 49 years old
    • has been in the position fewer than five years
    • spent most of her career in higher education
    • has a master’s degree
    • has more than 20 years of experience in higher education
    • reports to the Vice President of Enrollment Management
    • has five or more direct reports
    • is generally satisfied in the position
    • has worked at more than one institution
    • views skill in communication and enrollment management as most important for the position
    • spends the most time on enrollment management
    • finding time to get things done is the most challenging aspect of the position

    The January 2017 60-Second Survey topic is records management.  This particular survey will provide data for an annual conference session by Sue Hamilton and Nora McLaughlin tied to the book AACRAO’s Student Records Management: Retention, Disposal and Archive of Student Records.  In February, we will be seeking input via a survey on grading practices to help update the AACRAO book on the same topic.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    College Attainment Rates

    A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center examines the pathways to completion for students who started in fall 2010 and fall 2008.  Authors found that college completion rates are on the increase reversing an earlier trend.

    Using Multiple Measures to Improve Placement Accuracy in Community Colleges

    In November this year, a postdoctoral research associate at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) presented on the early results of a Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) project.  This project involves creating a multiple measures course placement algorithm for seven community colleges.  The presentation highlights the results of placement levels for the study groups so far.  Additional work will incorporate the course outcomes, persistence, and credits earned.

    One-Third of Community College Students Struggle to Meet Basic Needs

    The Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) released a report “Struggling to survive: Striving to Succeed: Food and housing insecurities in the community college.” Among other findings, the study found that twelve percent of community college students face the “threat of hunger”, and one-third “experience the threat of homelessness and housing instability.”  In addition, students in remedial education, especially math, account for the majority of students faced with either or both issues. 

    Strategies for Postsecondary Students in Developmental Education

    The What Works Clearinghouse (IES-WWC) created a comprehensive evidenced-based practice guide to help underprepared students.  It includes six primary recommendations (below), and each contains an implementation checklist.

    1. “Use multiple measure to assess postsecondary readiness and place students.
    2. Require or incentivize regular participation in enhanced advising activities.
    3. Offer students performance-based monetary incentives.
    4. Compress or mainstream developmental education with course redesign.
    5. Teach students how to become self-regulated learners.
    6. Implement comprehensive, integrated, and long lasting support programs.”

  • AACRAO Eye on Research November 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Nov 21, 2016


    Dr. Ben Castleman was the SEM plenary speaker on the opening night of AACRAO’s SEM Conference.  His session highlighted First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Up Next” initiative aimed at providing both high school seniors and current college students key college enrollment and success action item messages through texts.  While this program is not the first in higher education to embrace the use of texts to move students to action, the scale of the Up Next program is unprecedented and likely to reach millions of prospective and current students.  His presentation slide deck is available to AACRAO members through a login here.  As I understood it, there is still time for institutions to become involved in this program and his contact information is available at the end of the slide deck.

    The use, “care, and feeding” of data was a one of the key SEM conference themes across the plenary speakers, in the sessions and at roundtables.  Discussions were had around trying to balance the need for external and internal reporting, identifying a person or persons for internal reporting needs, mining and using student success indicators, and other related topics.  Given this hot topic, I thought it could be useful to remind readers about the great open resources on data management available from EDUCAUSE available here.

    AACRAO Research Insights

    Dual Enrollment in the Context of SEM

    AACRAO and Hobsons released the Dual Enrollment in the Context of Strategic Enrollment Management report at the beginning of the SEM conference.  Below is an infographic highlighting some of the results.  The full report is available here.

    November 60-Second Survey: Miscellany
    Over 900 institutions responded to the November 60-Second Survey: Miscellany which consisted of a collection of mostly unrelated but important practice and/or policy questions assembled from member inquiries and other sources over the course over the last several months.  Some of the key findings are included below. Click here for the full report.
    • More than half withhold official transcripts when a current or former student owes less than $25.
    • A third do not drop a student from a course (or courses) for non-payment.
    • Less than 20% of undergraduate financial aid recipients are required to take a financial literacy class and less than 10% of graduate students have the same requirement.
    • Almost three-quarters of undergraduate students are required to meet with an academic advisor at least once a year as compared to less than half of graduate students. 
    • Almost one in five institutions report that an undergraduate student must submit a request for his or her submitted transcript to be evaluated for course equivalencies and a third of graduate students face the same requirement.
    • Less than half (40%) automatically revaluate an undergraduate student’s transfer credit when he/she changes major and less than a third do the same for graduate students.
    • Just 13% of institutions serving undergraduates post degrees automatically and 11% do the same for graduate students. 
    • In the aggregate, just one in five ask a student if he or she intends to re-enroll for the following term.  When a student indicates he or she does not intend to re-enroll, 81% ask the student why he or she does not intend to re-enroll.
    • Almost 40% report the drop/add period for full-term courses is “through the end of the first full week of full-term courses”

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Study Finds Personality Traits are Key to College Success

    Vibeffect study of more than 5,000 high achieving students found that “low-income students in traditional four year colleges have equal probabilities of thriving {in college}; they are proportionally represented in the highest-thriving group.”  This study examined nearly 260 variables including traits, demographics and campus ecosystems and outlines the key self-reported traits tied to high-thriving students.

    Changes in Developmental and College-Level Course Enrollment and Passing in Florida 

    The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) completed a study of course enrollment and passing rate data before and after Florida’s 2014 removal of the requirement for students who placed at a pre-college level to enroll in college developmental courses. The study found the following:

    • “A smaller percentage of students enrolled in developmental education courses than in previous years. 
    • Passing rates in developmental education courses in math, reading, and writing increased an average of 2 percentage points compared with fall 2013. 
    • More students enrolled in gateway (entry-level college credit–bearing) courses, but passing rates in these courses declined compared with previous years, with the largest decline occurring in intermediate algebra. 
    • The proportion of all students entering college for the first time who passed English and math gateway courses increased compared with previous years.” 

    Education Advisory Board (EAB): “How relatively small grants retain students.”

    A study of over 40,000 students with GPAs above 3.0 found students to be slightly more likely to drop out of college if they lost between $1,000 and $1,500 in grant funding.  The percentage of those who drop out increases relative to a lost funding amount. 

    Cast Study “Delivering Exceptional Service Across the Student Lifecyle”

    Ovum conducted a case study of the use of the TargetX CRM platform at Pepperdine University to support communication across the entire student lifecycle.  Ovum draws the following institutional recommendations from the case study.
    • “Start small, but move quickly to an institution-wide CRM deployment. 
    • Identify an executive-level champion for the project early. 
    • Work closely with your CRM provider to understand the capabilities of the solution in a higher education context.”

    NCES Data Point Report: Examination of Credential Level and Occupational Credentials 

    An analysis of two employment data points associated with the 2003-04 Beginning Postseconday Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) found that employment rates were higher for completers than noncompleters at both the degree and certificate level.  Those who had completed a certificate had the lowest employment rate (77%) compared to those who earned associate’s or bachelor’s degreees.  However, the authors caution that “One cannot conclude from these data that employment outcomes are caused by differences in the level or type of credential earned.”

    Upward Bound at 50

    The Institute for Educational Sciences (IES) releases a new report that describes the “approaches that Upward Bound project use to provide core program services – advising, tutoring, academic coursework, college exposure, college entrance exam preparation, college application assistance, and financial aid application assistance.”

    NACUBO Guidance on Bursar Office Policy Manuals

    This month NACUBO released it comprehensive guidance on establishing student account policy manuals.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research October 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Oct 21, 2016


    A month or so ago Dr. Tom Green and I were chatting while driving back from Madison to Chicago, and he mentioned reading something in a New York Times op-ed about the results of three lay theory experiments, which piqued my interest because of the simplicity and apparent success of the intervention.  These experiments were designed to measure the effectiveness of lay theory pre-matriculation interventions in helping freshmen overcome feelings of doubt that they have the means to succeed in college and therefore improve success (see figure below).  One of the pre-matriculation interventions involved sharing upperclassmen’s “accounts of how they navigated the shoals of university life.”  I set about trying to find the original research and it took several weeks for me to track it down in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. 

    The results of the experiments are very interesting and seem to have identified a fairly low-cost and highly effective intervention to help disadvantaged students close the achievement gap.  The authors summarize their results thusly, “The lay theory interventions raised first-year full-time college enrollment among students from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds exiting a high-performing charter high school network or entering a public flagship university (experiments 1 and 2) and, at a selective private university, raised disadvantaged  student cumulative first-year grade point average (experiment 3).  These gained correspond to 31-40% reductions of the raw (unadjusted) institutional achievement gaps between students from disadvantages and non-disadvantages background and those institutions.”


    AACRAO Research Insights  

    To round out the AACRAO career profile report series, we just deployed the chief admissions officer survey. This survey closes on November 4th, and the report should be available by early December.  The November 60-Second survey (being deployed Oct. 31st through Nov. 4th) is a collection of practice questions we have received from our members over the last several months—each of which are interesting and/or timely but on their own did not make a complete 60-Second survey.  Topics include how institutions capture last-day-of-attendance for financial aid, drop/add period lengths, automatic awarding of degrees without the need to apply for graduation, use of shadow-terms for freshmen, use of a computer literacy assessment for incoming students, and others.  

    These two surveys are being deployed on our new survey platform Qualtrics.  We have also built the AACRAO Core Professional Competencies as two self-assessments. These will be beta tested with SEM attendees.  The intent is to tie the various competencies and proficiencies with conference sessions.  Future enhancements aim to tie the assessments to the professional development resources available from AACRAO.

    Invitation to Share your Institution’s Practices

    DOL Overtime Rule and Your Campus 

    Congress recently proposed several new measures to delay the implementation of the Department of Labor's overtime rule, but failed to approve formally the legislation before breaking for recess. We expect a return to this issue after lawmakers return to Washington following the elections. We also expect President Obama to veto any delay if such a bill were to pass. 

    With the new requirements currently slated to take effect on December 1, we know many campuses have questions about implementation strategies and what other institutions are doing to comply with the new requirements. Has your institution developed a plan? Would you be willing to share how your institution intends to deal with different positions in its offices? If so, please email Quintina Barnett Gallion, AACRAO’s Assistant Director of Communication and Legislative Affairs.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Indicates a Continuing Tendency in Undergraduate Enrollment towards Nontraditional Students

    Data from 2011-2012 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) revealed that “about 74%” of all undergraduates applying for financial aid had at least one characteristic typically attributed to nontraditional students and almost a third had 2-3 characteristics.  This data has not change much since 1995-1996. “Is it time to rethink the term nontraditional student?” 

    Pearson Finds that Many Adult Students Return to College to Keep Pace with Technology and Advancements in their Field

    Pearson conducted its first Adult Learners Survey of over 1,500 US adults either already enrolled in college or planning to enroll. The results of Pearson’s study revealed that most are not concerned with being replaced by younger workers or concerned about their job being outsourced to another country.  However, most (72%) noted that advancements in their field have led them to seek additional education to keep up. In addition, more than two-thirds (69%) believe that their job will change significantly in the next five years due to technological advancement.

    Returns to Vocational Credentials: Evidence from Ohio’s Community and Technical Colleges

    The CAPSEE authors found the following:
    • associate degrees generate positive earnings effects for both men and women, and the effects are strongest in health
    • certificates also generate positive returns with some gender differences

    Performance Standards in Need-Based Student Aid

    The National Bureau of Economic Research recently released a report (available for a small fee for non-member institutions) examining the consequences of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) failure.  The data supported theoretical predictions that in the short term there are “negative impacts on persistence but positive impacts on grades for students who remain enrolled.”  In the longer term, the negative effects of the policy/practice overshadow the positive.  The authors also found that SAP “appears to exacerbate inequality in higher education by pushing out low-performing low-income students faster than their equally low-performing, but higher income peers.”

    College Students Want More Learning Technology

    McGrawHill Education surveyed more than 3,000 students about the role of technology in their learning.   Among other discoveries, the report authors found that:  
    • "84% of students report that the use of technology improves their education
    • 81% report that digital learning technology helps save them time and be more efficient
    • 81% claim that digital learning technology is helping them boost their grades
    • 89% agreed that learning tech ‘should respond and adapt to my unique way of learning’
    • 61% prefer classes that use digital learning technology”

    Brookings Institution Race Disparity in Student Load Debt After Graduation

    Report authors Judith Scott-Clayton and Jin Li found that there is a $7,400 average greater debt load between black and white college graduates immediately after graduation.  This gap more than trebles in the next several years.  Taking into account interest accruals and graduate school borrowing, black students have almost twice as much debt four years after graduation at almost $53,000.  The authors “provide new evidence that racial gaps in total debt are far larger than even recent reports have recognized . . .” and identify policy implications.

    Two New Reports on Competency-Based Education (CBE)

    Competency-Based Education: A Study of Four New Models and Their Implications for Bending the Higher Education Cost Curve
    The rpkGroup completed a Lumina Foundation-funded first look report on four business models for CBE. The study findings suggest that CBE can lower the cost of instructional delivery and may offer a faster pathway to “demonstrate content mastery.”  However, it will likely take several years for an institution to see revenue numbers that match operating expenses and their significant up-front costs.
    One Path to Success: Early Evidence about the Efficacy of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education (CBE) Programs
    The American Institutes for Research collaborated with CBE leaders at six institutions to help answer the following questions about CBE: 1) Who is enrolling in CBE programs?;  2)  What outcomes did those students achieve, and how did they compare with students in traditional programs?; and 3) What data are being used, when gaps existed, and what else would be needed to better address these questions?  An infographic from the paper summarizes their early findings.


  • AACRAO Eye on Research September 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Sep 26, 2016


    Degree Revocation

    This month we had a question come in from a member regarding how best to address the issue of revoking a degree due to plagiarism found after the degree had been awarded.  A brief search on the subject revealed that several institutions have documented policies on the topic either as a stand-alone policy and/or included in the student code of conduct.  In addition, several AACRAO members were consulted on the issue, and their responses are paraphrased here.  At one member institution, the adjudicating body that deals with academic misconduct would recommend the sanction of degree revocation to the decision-maker (initially the dean). The president has final authority at the appeal stage. Since the faculty at this institution votes on the graduates, the president might elect to take it to the faculty for a vote but could on his own approve such a sanction. The student has the option to appeal (at two stages), with the president being the ultimate decider. If approved (through the final appeal stage), the degree would be revoked.  It was further suggested that an institution must address whether or not the student would be allowed to attempt to complete the degree by re-enrolling at some future date, be that immediately after the sanction or at some future date.

    Others had not run across the situation at their own institution and so consulted others who said this situation occurs rarely (i.e., “once in the last 10 years”).  Some of our members who responded had institutional policies themselves, while others had never run across the issue or applied a one-off practice to address the occurrence.  If you’d like to comment on this issue, please email me, and I will add your comments to the website.

    AACRAO Research and Occasional Partners

    Occasionally AACRAO will endorse a partner in their survey initiative.  Partners may include other associations or organizations engaged in research of interest to our membership and the higher education audience in general.  Although we receive several requests for partnerships, we are highly selective about those we choose to engage.  When we do partner, we may send the survey on behalf of the organization like we did for the American Council on Education with the 60-Second survey on the GED.  On other occasions, we will provide a subset of our membership contact list to our partner and allow them to indicate that AACRAO is a research partner.  For example, we, along with NACAC and NASFAA, have an opportunity to support Tyron Partners in their current research initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Their study into the technology used to support internal and student-facing U.S. financial aid practices will be emailed to AACRAO’s primary contacts from a Tyron Partners email address in October. If you have any questions about this partnership or AACRAO research partnerships in general, please email Wendy Kilgore, AACRAO’s Director of Research.

    Recent Inside Higher Ed Blog on the Importance of Market Segmentation in Higher Education

    I found Clarkson University Associate Vice President of Marketing Tim Jones’ commentary on the importance of understanding marketing segmentation in his Inside Higher Ed blog interesting, as are the findings in the Parthenon Group study of more than  3,000 Americans enrolled in or considering enrolling in college to which he refers.  Parthenon identifies six “distinct and defined segments based on their motivations and mindsets rather than just demographics” (Figure 1). Jones concludes his thoughts by stating that “Applying and refining the concept of motivation and mindset for other broad segments — alumni, donors, peers, funding agencies, parents — will spark new ideas for sophisticated marketing strategies. Considering what audiences want and why they want it can also help galvanize brand identity and open up opportunities for differentiation. Segmentation provides perspective on what it is that makes an institution unique that the market cares about.”

    Figure 1: Six Major Student Segments
    Source: The Parthenon Group http://cdn.ey.com/parthenon/pdf/perspectives/4.4.2-The-Differentiated-University-Part-I-1-disclaimer.pdf

    AACRAO Research Insights

    The September 2016 AACRAO 60-Second Survey focused on undergraduate and graduate class scheduling practices. Topics included: staffing level; primary responsibility for data entry; importance of various factors in the scheduling process; process timeline, availability of year-long registration; enrollment thresholds; the use of technology for class scheduling and student schedule planning; and the expected return on investment associated with the technology. 

    Key Findings for Undergraduate and Graduate Class Scheduling Practices

    • More than half of all respondents reported that the registrar’s office has primary responsibility for entering the class data into the student information system regardless of student level.
    • At the undergraduate level, nine in ten regard faculty availability as an “important” or “very important” factor in the undergraduate class scheduling process, followed by time block popularity and the class schedule from the previous year.
    • At the graduate and/or professional level, nine in ten also regard faculty availability as an “important” or “very important” factor in the class-scheduling process, followed by student request/need and faculty preferences.
    • While 40% report scheduling classes an academic term in advance, about a fifth schedule a full academic year in advance, and a further fifth report scheduling “less than one academic term in advance.”
    • Just 6% of institutions in this sample let students register for a full academic year at once. An additional 18% allow students to view the full academic year schedule but not register. 
    • Half do not own a classroom/class scheduling solution.
    • Almost two-thirds of institutions set a minimum class size threshold for a course to “run” compared to 8% who guarantee all courses will run regardless of enrollment. 

    Key Findings for Student Scheduling/Planning Technology

    • There appears to be confusion in the field about the difference in technology used by a student to plan which courses he will take in future terms, compared to a degree audit system, and further differentiated from a student scheduling/planning solution. The latter was defined in this survey as the following: “Schedule planning solutions are used by students to create optimal class schedules by identifying preferred classes and blocking off unavailable time. The software instantly informs the student of all possible conflict-free schedule combinations available for immediate registration.”
    • Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported their institution offers an online schedule planning tool for their students.
    • About one-third of those who do not have a solution indicated that they seek to acquire one in the next 12 months.
    • When asked about the expected return on investment for current owners, 90% of respondents hoped the schedule planning tool would improve the student experience, followed by improving timely student registration (68%) and improved time to degree (62%). 
    • While one-third of solution owners do not know the percentage of students using the product, almost one-quarter report a very high usage rate (80% or above).

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Remedial Coursetaking at U.S. Public Two- and Four-Year Institutions

    The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released a report on remedial coursetaking and its impact on postsecondary outcomes. NCES found that among those students who started in a postsecondary institution in 2003-04, 68% of those at two-year institutions and 40% of those at four-year institutions took at least one remedial course over a six-year timeframe.  Not unexpectedly, students enrolled at two-year institutions were more likely to enroll in two or more remedial courses than those who enrolled at four-year institutions. They also found that remedial course completers “did as well if not better than students who did not take any remedial courses” in terms of transferring to a four-year institution, earning college-level English credit, and persisting through college. In addition, they found that “Not all remedial completers experienced favorable outcomes once various demographic, academic, enrollment, and contextual characteristics were controlled for in the multivariate analysis.”

    Dual Credit – The Superintendent’s Perspective

    Hobsons recently released a report on dual enrollment based on a survey in conjunction with the American Association of School Administrators.  This executive summary report provides an insight into dual enrollment from the K-12 perspective.  Insights from this report will be compared to similar questions in the AACRAO/Hobsons joint dual enrollment project.  

    A guide to developing and evaluating a college readiness screener

    Two scholars from Florida State University developed a guide released by IES to help institutions identify college-ready students. The guide report then takes the reader through a step-by-step process that may be used to screen prospective students for college readiness. 

    Child Care for Parents in College: A State-by-State Assessment

    The Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a briefing paper that examined the share of public institutions with campus childcare centers (Figure 2). The authors found that from 2005-2015, campus childcare declined in 36 states at both two- and four-year institutions. Among those states with 33 or more public institutions of higher education, four states were found to have campus childcare at 75 percent or more of their public institutions. While 39 states and the District of Columbia do not have work requirements for parents enrolled in education and/or training to qualify for the child subsidy, three states require at least 20 hours of work a week, and eight require less than 20 hours a week.

    Figure 2: The Shares of Public Two- and Four-Year Institutions with Campus Child Care by State, 2015

    Source: IWPR analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems (IPEDS). 2015 Institutional Characteristics Component (2015 Preliminary Release).

    Student Diversity at More Than 4,600 Institutions

    The Chronicle of Higher Education released a dataset of more than 4,600 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools and their student enrollment. The tables provide information about each institution’s demographics and their minority populations.

    New National Student Clearinghouse Report on Time to Degree

    The just-released report highlights the time to degree completion for a cohort of students who earned their associate’s or bachelor’s degree between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.  “Overall, the average time enrolled for associate and bachelor’s degree earners was 3.3 years and 5.1 years, respectively. However, as the report shows, the time required for successful degree attainment could be influenced by the pathway the student followed as well as by factors, such as stop outs and less than full-time enrollment status.”

  • AACRAO Eye on Research August 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Aug 29, 2016


    Michelle Mott, Associate Director of Government Relations and Communications, posed a question through the AACRAO Advocacy list serve asking members if their institution has any concerns about the way the VA is about to start reporting graduation rates for military connected students.  The feedback she received indicated that many institutions are concerned about the methodology.  Michelle notes, “The data that the VA will begin to report in September is based only on the completion rates they have in their system for students that graduate before benefits run out.  If students graduate after they have exhausted their eligible benefits, use any part of their GI Bill benefits at another school (including transferring or graduating from another institution), or pass remaining benefits along to a dependent, they are not included in the completion rate data. This obviously leads to grossly inadequate and incomplete information being reported for all institutions.”

    We intend to contact the department on behalf of the membership to express the concerns raised and will keep you informed of any updates.  Please email Michelle directly should you have any further comments or questions.  

    AACRAO Research Initiatives

    Upcoming Topics for the 60-Second Survey

    A look ahead to the 60-Second Survey topics includes class-scheduling practices in September, a hodgepodge catch-all of single questions submitted by members in November and, in January of 2017, a records management practice focus to support two of our members’ AACRAO annual conference session.  If you have questions you would like considered for the hodgepodge edition, please let me know soon.  Current topics on the list for that survey are as follows:
    • Acceptance of three-year degrees
    • Threshold for holding transcripts
    • Where are transcripts going – employers, students, institutions
    • Course placement practice
    • Recording last day of attendance
    • Drop for non-payment and the threshold for doing so
    • Separate-level transcripts
    • Use of a ‘shadow term’ where the grades earned are not calculated in the GPA and how is SAP related to this
    Chief Admissions Officer Career Profile

    The third focus area in our career profile series is the chief admissions officer position.  We will distribute this survey in October to members and non-members who are responsible for the admission of undergraduate and/or graduate students. Survey participants may also be responsible for recruitment and for scholarship administration or similar functions.

    Dual Enrollment in the Context of SEM

    The report underwritten by Hobsons and based on the institutional-level surveys and interviews is well under way and will be emailed to the AACRAO membership at the start of the SEM conference.  There will also be a session at the SEM conference. If you are attending, I’d like to invite you to this session and to perhaps share your institution’s experiences with dual enrollment in the context of SEM. Here is a sneak peek at some of the key findings:
    • Dual enrollment is widely available and accepted. During the 2015-16 academic year, most (78%) institutions in this sample offered dual enrollment options;
    • Eighty-six percent accept dual enrollment credit in transfer;
    • Lower division only, and/or large and/or public institutions are more likely to offer dual enrollment programs and courses than institutions with other characteristics;
    • Fifty-nine percent have incorported dual enrollment as a strategic enrollment initiative;
    • One-quarter of participating institutions awarded at least one associate’s degree to high school students during the 2015-16 academic year;
    • Fifty-eight percent discounted tuition for dual enrollment, and two-thirds of those do so by more than 50%;
    •  Among those institutions that do not offer dual enrollment, institutional culture is the most cited reason for not doing so; and
    •  Nearly all (93%)accept AP and/or IB credits.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Two-year Enrollment After Bachelor’s Degree

    The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center recently released a snapshot report highlighting the trend in the percentage of bachelor’s degree holders re-enrolling at a two-year institution.  During the recession (2008-2009) 7.6% re-enrolled.  That percentage dropped to 5.8% for 2013-2014. 

    Nudging for Success: Breaking Behavior Barriers to Higher Education

    ideas42, with support from both the Lumina Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spent the last two years working on dozens of projects with several institutions in the United States, with the goal of using behavioral science-based interventions to help remove some of the “hidden challenges” of obtaining a college degree from pre-admission to loan repayment.  Several institutions saw positive results.  Arizona State University, for example, saw a 72% increase in the percentage of returning student FAFSA filers applying by the priority deadline, further resulting in an increase of $263-643 in scholarships or grants per student.  This was accomplished simply by using targeted and repeated emails to both the students and, in one group, the parents as well.

    Out of Reach: How a Shared Definition of College Affordability Exposes a Crisis for Low-Income Students

    Demos, a public policy organization focused on social, economic and political equity, released a report in July 2016 pertaining to our understanding of college affordability for low-income students. The report defines college affordability as whether “a student can meet the total net price through 10 hours of work per week and 10 percent of a family’s discretionary income over 10 years”— otherwise defined by a group of experts convened by the Lumina Foundation, as the Rule of 10.  Results found that no state can argue, with confidence, that their institutions are “affordable” under the Rule of 10. 

    The Evolving Role of Faculty in Student Success

    The Education Advisory Board released a white paper based on interviews with 120 higher education leaders on faculty engagement and student success.  Their analysis of these interviews suggests among other findings that “most top-down student success initiatives” will not work without faculty engagement.  Further, more than three-quarters of institutions in the United States have an early warning system, but they are underutilized.

    Where Does Your Freshman Class Come From?

    The Chronicle of Higher Education released an interactive map highlighting state-level data on where college freshman choose to enroll.  This map is based on IPEDS data and some institutionally corrected data.

    Undergraduates Who Do Not Apply for Financial Aid

    The National Center for Education Statistics recently released a report based on 2011-12 data, which detailed that one in five students do not apply for financial aid. The study also filtered for institution type and found that students attending public, two-year institutions were most likely to not apply for any type of aid (30%), followed by public, four-year (18 percent), private, non-profit, four-year (11%), and private, for-profit (5%) (Figure 1). The study found that the most frequently cited reasons for not applying were “they could afford college without aid” and they “thought they were ineligible”. Ten percent of undergraduates who did not apply for federal aid either applied for and/or were awarded non-federal student aid.

    Figure 1: Financial Aid Application: Percentage distribution of undergraduates’ financial aid application status, by type of institutions: 2011-2012

    Source: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2016/2016406.pdf

  • AACRAO Eye on Research July 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Jul 27, 2016


    Late June and early July was a busy time for the release of higher education related research reports from the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), and others.  Topics include student persistence, emergency financial support, cost of attendance, a research review process, alternative credentials and the impact of laptops and/or tablets on final exam grades.  I hope you find these reports as interesting as I did.

    AACRAO Research Initiatives

    60-Second Survey Changes

    Our 60-Second surveys have helped us gain a renewed and expanded foundation of understanding about enrollment practices.  It is now time to reduce the frequency of these quick snapshot surveys to be able to take a more in-depth look at select practices and issues.  As such, starting in July 2016 we are moving to a once-every-other-month model for the 60-Second surveys.  I want to thank you again for your participation in these snapshots; I couldn’t have done it without you.  I hope you will continue to participate and share your topic ideas with me. 

    Change in Survey Platform

    Our survey platform, Fluid Surveys, has been acquired by Survey Monkey and will no longer be supported after this December.  We found that Survey Monkey does not provide the features we currently use and need in the existing platform.  As such, we will be moving to Qualtrics, a platform I am sure many of you are familiar with.  We have also acquired Tableau.  Qualtrics also recently acquired StatWing a data analysis platform that I have been using as a stand-alone product.  This transition should help AACRAO continue to provide the same type of survey and research insight you have become familiar with. 

    AACRAO Research Insights

    Beginning on Oct. 1, 2016, students will be able to fill out the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) for the 2017–2018 school year. In the past, students had to wait until January 1 to do so. In addition, applicants will no longer need to estimate income and tax information and will be able to retrieve their data directly from the IRS, right from the first day the FAFSA is available.  The purpose of this survey was to gather a snapshot of perceptions about this change and if/how this change will impact admissions processes and calendars.

    Although there are some international institutions who participate in the Federal Student Loan programs[1], most institutions that participate in the various Federal Student Aid programs, including loans, are in the United States.  As such we opted to send this survey only to AACRAO member institutions in the United States; 480 institutions responded.  

    AACRAO is offering a free webinar, Practical Implications for the 2017-2018 FAFSA on Admission and Enrollment Management Office,” on Thursday August 25, 2016 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM ET.  If you are interested in this webinar, click here to register.

    Key Findings

    •Most (91%) who responded were aware of the change, and most (94%) also view the change as “good for students”.

    •Nearly seven out of ten (69%) indicate that the change will not impact the undergraduate admissions calendar.•Almost all (94%) say that the change will not impact the graduate admissions calendar.

    •For those who will make a change to their admissions calendar, most will move student outreach activities to an earlier date.
    •Among those who had concerns about implementation, about three out of four were concerned about there being a lack of definitive Federal and/or State funding information available at the earlier date.
    •Just slightly less than three out of four were concerned about their ability to package aid earlier and notify students earlier.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Two Data Point Reports from IES

    Persistence and Attainment Among Postsecondary Student Seeking a Certificate or Associate’s Degree

    This Data Point report is based on data in the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) examining the 6-year persistence and credential attainment rate of students pursuing a certificate or associate’s degree.  Just 39% of students who sought a subbaccalaureate credential earned one within 6 years compared to those pursuing a bachelor’s degree (67%).  The study also found that the persistence and attainment rate for those pursuing an occupational field of study were not measurably different from those in other areas.
    Total of all students: 65% persisted Baccalaureate:79% Subbaccalaureate: 56%

    Source: Persistence and Attainment Among Postsecondary Subbaccalaureate Students – Figure 1

    Career and Technical Education Coursetaking and Postsecondary Enrollment and Attainment: High School Classes of 1992 and 2004

    The second Data Point report compares the postsecondary enrollment rate of public high school graduates 8 years after graduation for two cohorts (1992 and 2004).  Although the 2004 cohort enrollment rate was 5% higher than the 1992 cohort (89% vs. 83%), the postsecondary attainment rate was lower (57% vs. 61%).  The study further examined the enrollment and attainment differences between students who earned career and technical education credits (CTE) while in high school and those who did not earn any.

    What Works Clearinghouse Releases a New Topic Area and Two Reports

    The What Works Clearinghouse is a program within IES.  It just launched the Supporting Postsecondary Success topic area and two related intervention reports:  Summer Bridge Programs and First Year Experience Courses.

    Cost of Attendance, Degrees and Awards Conferred and 12-Month Enrollment

    Another just-released IES First Look report is based on preliminary data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).  This report examines data from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015.

    Evolving the IRB: Building Robust Review for Industry Research

    A recent article in the Washington and Lee Law Review Online describes Facebook’s research review process.  The author’s hope that “. . . general principles can be extracted from Facebook’s process that will inform other companies as they develop frameworks for research review that serve their needs”, and this includes academia.  This article was part of the resources provided to attendees at the recent convening at Stanford University, Asilomar II: Student Data and Records in the Digital Era.  This convening assembled a small group of academic leaders to “consider how data describing adult students might be managed in ways that enable the improvement of educational experiences, the progress of science, and the integrity of information describing human beings.”

    Landscape Analysis of Emergency Aid Programs

    NASPA just released the results of a study that examined the current landscape of emergency aid programs. The study finds that institutions are delivering multiple types of emergency aid to students such as: campus vouchers, emergency loans, food pantries, and completion scholarships, among others. Of the 523 institutions who offer emergency aid programs, 82 percent have offered at least one program for 3 or more years.

    Two in Five Associate Degrees Led to Bachelor’s within Six Years

    A June 27, 2016 report by the NSC Research Center examined associate’s degree earners and the rate in which they enroll in a four-year institution and whether they earned a bachelor’s degree. Researchers found that more than 64 percent of these students enrolled in a four-year institution, and 41 percent earned a bachelor’s degree. The report notes, “the associate-to-bachelor pathway was most frequently completed by students age 20 or under, with nearly 61 percent earning a bachelor’s degree within six years.”

    Study Reveals Profiled Colleges and Universities Embrace Alternative Credentials

    A study by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), Penn State and Pearson looked at the role alternative credentialing in higher education.  For the purpose of this study, alternative credentials were defined as “Competencies, skills, and learning outcomes derived from assessment-based, non-degree activities and align to specific, timely needs in the workforce.”  Almost all of the institutions who participated in the study (94%)(n=190) offered some form of alternative credential and 20% offer digital badges.  Of the respondents, 64 percent either strongly or somewhat agreed that their institution “sees alternative credentialing as an important strategy for the future.”

    The Impact of Computer Usage on Academic Performance: Evaluation from a Randomized Trial at the United States Military Academy at West Point

    A working study by the United States Military Academy at West Point examined the effects of technology use in the classroom on exam scores. Three randomized groups were compiled: a control group that prohibited the use of laptops/tablets, one treatment group where students were permitted to use laptops/tablets without restrictions, and one treatment group that was only permitted to use tablets that remain flat on the table. Results show that:

    Final exam grades for those allowed to use laptops or tablets in the classroom were 18 percent of a standard deviation lower than those who were not permitted to use laptops or tablets. 
    Comparatively the “effect is as large as the average difference in exam scores for two students whose cumulative GPAs at the start of the semester differ by one-third of a standard deviation.”

    Motivation of Adult Learners for Completing a College Degree

    A 2016 study by Ruffalo Noel Levitz delved into the motivational barriers that first-year students age 25 and older may face while pursuing a college degree. A sample of more than 5,000 first-year adult learners at 50 institutions led the researchers to identify common themes. Researchers found that a vast majority (98 percent) are “determined to complete a college degree” when they first enter their respective institution. Despite such strong motivations from many, approximately 20 percent of respondents are expressed some apprehension as to whether the courses they are taking are worth all of the time, money and effort.  Researchers finally propose that administrators utilize the strong motivations many first-year adult learners have and develop academic plans that keep them on track.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research June 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Jun 08, 2016


    Separation of Official Transcripts by Level 

    We often receive best-practice level inquiries from our members and sometimes college students.  Recently we were asked by a recent graduate if it is okay for an institution to allow a student to request separate transcripts if she completed both an undergraduate and a graduate degree at the institution.  She needed her transcript for a potential employer, and as we understood it, her employer was only interested in seeing her graduate-level work.  Her institution did not support this option. 

    The AACRAO 2016 Academic Record and Transcript guide contains the following recommendation, “For those students who have attended both undergraduate and graduate or professional divisions within the same institution, it is recommended that the entire academic transcript record appear on a single transcript.  However, institutions may wish to consider the request of a student to send a transcript with only a specific degree and supporting coursework.  In these cases, it is recommended that some heading or other identifying language indicates this is the academic record for only that particular career or division.” (pg. 43)

    I am familiar with institutions that support separate transcripts by level or professional division and with others that do not.  However at this point in time, we do not have a snapshot of the prevalence of either practice.  We will either add it to the next version of the transcript practices survey or perhaps add it to an appropriate 60-Second survey.  

    I spoke with a couple of institutions that do not allow the practice and was told it was simply due to policy and/or it was considered to be a form of academic dishonesty not to include the entire transcript.  From my perspective, it makes sense to allow this option because the different degree levels have separate admissions processes, different academic standards for progress and completion, and represent different academic levels of work (undergraduate vs. graduate).  It does make sense as well that the transcript should be annotated to reflect that it is a partial transcript and how it has been abbreviated.  On the other hand, while separating coursework and degrees by level on a transcript is typically an option within the configuration of modern student information systems, printing a transcript of only the coursework that applies to one degree when more than one has been earned at the same academic level within an institution is likely to require more than just a change in a configuration of the transcript settings.

    AACRAO Research Initiatives

    Dual Enrollment Programs and Courses in the Context of Strategic Enrollment Management

    In February of 2013, the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) released a "First Look" report on dual enrollment programs and courses at postsecondary institutions in the United States based on 2010-11 data.  We learned that there are currently no plans to repeat the study. We chose to build on the IES survey with our study because we want to gain an understanding of how and if the programs and courses available to high school students to earn postsecondary credit are actively used by postsecondary institutions as a method for increasing student diversity and student success and/or to help reach other enrollment goals.

    This is a joint research project between AACRAO and Hobsons.  Hobsons is providing financial support and is the sponsor of the survey incentive. AACRAO is providing the survey platform, will identify the survey recipients, and conduct the data analysis and the interviews.  AACRAO is also responsible for writing the report.  

    This project consists of two parts:
    1. Conducting and publishing the survey results, and
    2. One-on-one conversations with enrollment management leaders to understand how these programs and courses are used, if at all, to support student success and help reach enrollment goals. 

    This survey will be released to a select population of AACRAO members on June 27.  If you would like to make sure your institution is part this project, please email the contact information of the person who should receive the survey (wendyk@aacrao.org). The results of this project will be presented at the SEM conference in San Antonio this fall.

    Summer Intern for AACRAO Research

    We are fortunate to have a summer intern, Alexander Taylor, a recent graduate of Elon University, join us this summer for a three-month research internship.  He will be working on a number of research projects as well as help us move forward with some technological initiatives.  These include assisting with the interviews for the dual enrollment project, conducting a literature review for the state transfer policy/practice project and adding keyword search functionality to the AACRAO research reports page.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    The Impact of Financial Education on Community College Student-Loan Debt

    Veronica Garcia, an AACRAO member and Vice President of Student Affairs at Paradise Valley Community College recently completed her dissertation at Oregon State University on the topic of student debt and financial education.  The U.S. student loan debt has surpassed 1.3 trillion dollars and had a higher default rate in 2014 than home mortgages . Institutions are increasingly offering and/or requiring financial-education programs for students as a means to positively influence student borrowing behavior.  Both surprisingly and concernedly, Dr. Garcia found at one community college that those who completed one or more financial-education courses tended to have higher student loan debt than those who did not complete at least one course.   She will present these results at the AACRAO SEM Conference in San Antonio this November.

    Developmental Education and College Readiness at the University of Alaska

    This May 2016 study of the readiness of first-time students who enrolled at the University of Alaska system found that among those who enrolled directly in college the high school GPA was a “stronger predictor of college-level English and math performance than were SAT, ACT, and ACCUPLACER scores.”

    Data Analytics Rising in Higher Education

    This University Business article highlights the evolution of staffing models to support data analytics and the use of predictive analytics on four campuses.

    nprED “How to Fix a Graduation Rate of 1 in 10? Ask the Dropouts

    San Jose State University received a grant to conduct exit interviews to learn why students were dropping out.  Among other factors, the institution learned that a sense of disengagement and real institutional barriers led to the decision for a student to drop out. The results of these interviews sparked real changes in practice on campus aimed to eliminate barriers and increase a sense of community. 

    Tuition and Fees in the West 2015-16

    The WICHE Policy and Analysis unit released a Policy Insights on published tuition and fees at all public institutions in the West.  For public four-year institutions Arizona has the highest cost for resident tuition and fees and Wyoming the lowest.  This summary also highlights the changes in state level funding in higher education over the last year and for the previous 5 years.  Thirteen of the 15 states in the summary received and increase in funding over the last year.   Arizona and Alaska received further cuts.  Funding in Arizona has decreased 27% from five years ago and a further steep cut of 14% over last year.  
  • AACRAO Eye on Research May 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | May 23, 2016


    Members Using AACRAO Research Resources

    I enjoy hearing from members about how they are using the research reports.  Most often members report using the reports to help convince others to either leave a practice/policy the way it is or to make a change in that practice/policy.  Some remark on how their supervisor simply wants to know how other institutions similar to their own are conducting business around a particular topic.  Others use the staffing assessments to help justify position changes.  Occasionally I receive requests to further disaggregate the data to a specific set of peer institutions or more refined set of institutional characteristics than those displayed in the reports, and I am happy to do so. 

    I’d like to hear about how you use, or want to use, the AACRAO research reports and to share that with other blog readers.  I’d particularly like to know how the research helped you make a decision or a change you were hoping to make. We will be testing the comments functionality available to us in the near future, but for the time being, if you’d like to share with me and with others please email at wendyk@aacrao.org, and I will include your feedback in the next blog.

    AACRAO Research Insights

    New Student Registration and Orientation – April 2016 60-Second Survey

    One of the well-attended sessions at the recent annual conference in Phoenix was entitled All Aboard: Registration Models for First Semester Students (Session#4520, Tues. 8:00 a.m.). The session covered how two institutions register domestic, first-semester students before, or in place of, on-campus orientation either through self-registration, registration by the institution on behalf of the student, or a combination of the two.

    Key Findings Self-Registration

    •There is a wide variety in self-registration and orientation practices.
    •In the aggregate, slightly more than half let freshmen partially or completely self-register, and almost two-thirds allow new graduate students to do the same.
    •Lower-division-only institutions are more likely to allow freshmen to self-register than other types of institutions.
    •On the whole, almost 3 out of 4 require freshmen to meet with an advisor before registering. 
    •Slightly more than half require new graduate students to meet with an advisor before registering.
    •In-person orientation is still required for more than half of the self-registering freshmen.  This practice is slightly less common for lower-division-only institutions.

    Key Findings Registration on Behalf of the Student

    •On the whole, 12% of institutions saw an increase in yield by providing either complete or partial registration on behalf of the student practices instead of self-registration. The majority saw no change in yield (87%).
    •6 out of 10 either partially or completely register freshmen on behalf of the student.  This is much less common for the undergraduate transfer population and slightly less common for graduate students.
    •Almost three-quarters required in-person orientation for freshman who have been registered in-part or in-whole by the institution.
    •Registrar staff and advisors are more likely than other areas to be responsible for completing the registration on behalf of the student.

    AACRAO Research Initiatives

    We will take a break from the 60-Second surveys for the month of June.  Our aim is to complete 10 a year skipping both June and December.  Please let me know if you have any topics for the 60-Second surveys.

    We are in the early stages on three projects outside of the 60-Second surveys.  One on the use of dual enrollment programs to support student success and SEM initiatives.  The other will potentially involve a case-study type of report on a few states who support transfer students well in order to help explain the gap between recent student level data reports which indicate that transfer students lose credits and other reports which indicate that most states have comprehensive mechanisms in place to support transfer between their public institutions.  The third is a career profile study for Director of Admissions to round out our career profile series.  The first project is tentatively scheduled for a November release and the second is for next summer at the Tech and Transfer conference.  The career profile deliver date is to be determined in the next couple of months.

    I will travel to DC this month for an ACE convening to discuss the next phase of their Dream Undone project.  We were also part of the first phase.

    Finally, the May 2016 issue of C&U (Volume 91 Issue 2) released on May 4th includes an article summarizing the key findings of the AACRAO 2015 research year.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Projections of Education Statistics to 2023 in the United States

    The National Center for Education Statistics released the education projections for 2023 in April. 

    Postsecondary projected increases by 2023-24 compared to 2011-12 data include:

    •First-time freshman enrollment is projected to increase 14 percent
    •Total enrollment in postsecondary degree granting institutions is projected to increase 15%.
    •The number of associate’s degrees conferred is projected to increase 39%.
    •The number of bachelor’s degrees conferred is projected to increase 15%.

    Undergraduate Cost of Recruiting Report from Ruffalo Noel Levitz

    In 2016 survey based on 2015 enrollment numbers of 206 four- and two-year institutions, Ruffalo Noel Levitz found that four-year privates spend the most with median of $2,232 per student.  Further details can be found by downloading their report.

    The Returns to College Persistence for Marginal Students

    A recent working paper produced by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institution shared the results of a study of “low-performing students who are dismissed from public 4-year colleges in Ohio”.  The aim of this study was to estimate the earnings impact of college on low-performing students.  The authors concluded that “low-performing students (on the margin of college dismissal) derive substantial earnings benefits from college”, are “approximately 10 percentage points less likely to graduate college” and those who are dismissed “suffer substantial earning losses measured between 7-12 years after college enrollment.”  They also present four categories of explanation as to why these students drop out.

    Public Research Universities: Recommitting to Lincoln’s Vision – An Educational Compact for the 21st Century

    The Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education an initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences released its final publication by its members.  This report concludes their work on the causes and results of reduced state investment in public research universities and provides recommendations for bringing stability and renewed strength to these institutions.

    Postsecondary Student One-Year Mobility Rates

    The April 20, 2016 report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center noted that almost 10 percent of all postsecondary students in the United States attended more than one institution during the 2014-15 academic year.

    Analyzing the Cost of Using Technology – A resource

    Not new but interesting nonetheless, the WICHE Cooperative for Education Technologies (WCET) in conjunction with the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has a free set of analysis tools and step-by-step guides to “enable institutional leaders to analyze the costs of using technology in both on- and off-campus instruction.”  These tools are designed to help institutions make comparable cost estimates across multiple modes of instruction.

    NACUBO’s Looking Under the Hood Institutional Aid Metrics Benchmarking Tool – A resource

    I received a webinar announcement from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), which referenced an institutional aid benchmarking tool that allows NACUBO and Association for Governing Boards (AGB) members to compare their various institutional grant aid metrics with the national average and with self-selected peer institutions.  According to the AGB, this solution can help institutions answer questions like:

    •“Are institutional-aid policies consistent with the mission and values of our institution?
    •Is institutional aid being delivered to the types of students we most want to see on our campus?
    •Is aid ultimately going to students who succeed (i.e., do students who receive our grants graduate)?”

    If your institution is a member of either of these groups and is not currently using this tool, you may want to look into it.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research April 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Apr 13, 2016


    April 2016 represents the 20th 60-Second Survey for AACRAO, and over the course of these surveys a few trends in practice, policy and staffing have become apparent.  First and foremost, there is no “one size fits all” for any of the above.   Variety and variance (i.e., standard deviation) are the norm across and between institution, size, type, and control.  Since we send the 60-Second Surveys to all active members, it is not wholly unexpected that the raw data often contain instances where more than one person per institution responds to the same survey.  However, due to the topics in the 60-Second Surveys (basic practice, policy, etc.), I anticipated that I would be able to simply select one set of responses from all of an institution’s responses because I assumed that all would be the same.  Unfortunately, the majority of the time the responses are not the same or even close to the same.  This is often true even when the respondents are from the same department.  While some of the differences could be accounted for by different interpretations of the survey questions and/or separate colleges within a university functioning as separate units with similar responsibility but different practices, the occurrence rate is too pervasive across all topics to be wholly accounted for with these explanations.  What this data appears to illuminate is perhaps a need for additional training, practice documentation, policy clarification or improved inter- and intra- office communication.  However, this is only conjecture at this point based on anecdotal feedback from some institutions contacted for clarification.  Perhaps these differences just represent what William Louis Stern found in his experiments where a chain of people told and retold a story, and by the end of the chain the story was not the same as when the first person told it.  Policies and procedures are often shared in an informal way with new employees and with other departments, so perhaps the differences in understanding of the policies and procedures exist simply because of the context in which the persons responding to the survey learned about it in the first place.  At this point, who knows?

    AACRAO Research Insights

    Included below are the insights gained from the most recent 60-Second Survey, from the Lexmark sponsored research on Electronic Content Management system ownership and its impact on student records practices, as well as an AACRAO research co-authored SEM Quarterly article.  The full reports are posted to the research page and a link to the SEM Quarterly article is included below.

    Class Start Times and Lengths – March 2016

    In response to the recent
    Inside Higher Education article about one institution's decision not to offer 8:00 a.m. courses, we developed this survey to capture a snapshot of in-person class start times and lengths at the undergraduate and graduate level and by calendar system. We were curious about the predominance, or lack thereof, of early morning, late night and weekend courses and institutional reasons for not offering early morning courses. It turns out that both early morning and late night classes are still offered by most institutions.

     Key Findings Undergraduate

    • The vast majority (91%) still offer classes that start between 8:00 a.m. and 8:59 a.m.

    • Almost a quarter offer classes that start between 7:00 a.m. and 7:59 a.m., and 4% have classes that start before 7:00 a.m.

    • More than three-quarters have classes that start between 6:00 p.m. and 6:59 p.m., and 12% offer classes that start at 9:00 p.m. or later.

    • Some institutions offer the very early and very late classes on Saturdays and Sundays as well as weekdays.

    • Less than one-in-five (17%) offer six hour courses.


     Key Findings Graduate

    • Fewer than three-quarters (68%) offer classes that start between 8:00 a.m. and 8:59 a.m.

    • Just 12% offer classes that start between 7:00 a.m. and 7:59 a.m. and 2% before 7:00 a.m.

    • Three-quarters have classes that start between 6:00 p.m. and 6:59 p.m., and 8% offer classes that start at 9:00 p.m. or later.

    • At the graduate level, Saturday course offerings are more predominant than Sunday.


    Building a SEM Analytics Reporting Portfolio
    The April 2016 edition of SEM Quarterly includes an AACRAO co-authored article designed to help college and university enrollment professionals initiate a SEM analytics reporting portfolio that focuses on shifting the attention of reporting systems from transactional data gathering to shared performance understandings.  This article has been reproduced here.

    Abstract: Effective strategic enrollment management(SEM) efforts require vast amounts of internal and external data to ensure that meaningful reporting and analysis systems can assist managers in decision making. A wide range of information is integral for leading effective and efficient student recruitment and retention programs. This article is designed to help college and university enrollment professionals initiate a SEM analytics reporting portfolio that focuses on shifting the attention of reporting systems from transactional data gathering to shared performance understandings that can be leveraged throughout the enterprise on a timely basis. By employing a K–20 student pipeline planning approach, the authors discuss reporting fundamentals for enrollment management data analytics, the components of a comprehensive reporting portfolio, strategies for building SEM -focused research organizations, and data interpretation methods.

    Ownership Prevalence of Electronic Content Management (ECM) systems and their Impact on Student Records Management (SRM) Practices

    There are some things in SRM we do solely because of governmental regulation and others we do pursuant to best management practice, or to both.  The world of SRM is increasingly more complex and for most, ECMs help simplify SRM.  Student records management is an important, large-scale, multi-format, active and ongoing endeavor, the ineffective-management of which imparts an eDiscovery risk and possible significant financial risk.  Among other findings, we found that some institutions appear either not to understand the importance of managing the entire student record lifecycle from creation to final disposal or to accept the cost (about $300 per breached record) and security implications associated with keeping all records permanently.

    Key Findings


    AACRAO Research Advisory Board Meeting

    Date: March 20 2016
    Present: Wendy Kilgore, Sam Fugazzotto, Christopher Tremblay, Veronica Garcia, Jason Brown

    The group was able to meet briefly on March 20th before the start of the AACRAO annual conference.  Several ideas were shared regarding the direction of AACRAO research and, in particular, the topic of how the group might best support the awarding of graduate research stipends. 

    Upcoming AACRAO Research Initiatives

    The April 2016 60-Second Survey will examine new student orientation and registration practices. May will serve as a touch point for the AACRAO and NASPA Lumina Grant by asking our members about their competency-based education practices.  As stated in last month’s blog, other future research includes a focus on student success initiatives, a report on the career paths of directors of admissions mirroring the registrar and chief enrollment officer career path reports. 

    This summer AACRAO research will host an intern.  Among other initiatives, he will be tasked with applying key word search functionality to the research reports page.  This functionality was requested by the research advisory board and other members recently.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Co-Requisite Remediation in Math, Writing and Reading

    The Tennessee Board of Regents found overall success in the system’s community colleges co-requisite remediation model. “This co-requisite model transformed their previous success rate of fewer than 10% of students completing a credit-bearing math class over several semesters to more than 70% completing a credit-bearing math class in a single semester.”

    What We Know About Transition Courses – Community College Research Center

    A recent WICHE policy alert email brought attention to a January 2016 report from the Community College Research Center.  This report summarizes ongoing efforts to create courses designed to help high school students succeed in postsecondary education and focused on a wide variety of issues.  The report concludes that “while more learning is needed to produce successful outcomes, current efforts to help students master college-level math and English provide an important foundation for states seeking to improve college and career opportunities.”

    Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey Results for 2015

    The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA distributed the results of the CIRP Freshman Survey.   This report captures “The American Freshman: National Norms of Fall 2015”.  Among other results, the survey found that among full–time, first-year freshmen, interest in political and civil engagement is the highest it has been “since the study began 50 years ago.”  It also included new questions about how students pay for higher education expenses and the findings suggest that Pell Grants “fall far short of the amount needed to pay for their first year of college.”

    America’s Skill Challenge: Millennials and the Future

    The Educational Testing Center for Research on Human Capital and Education released the first in a series of
    reports using data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).  The research found that “while they (millennials) may be on track to be our most educated generation ever, they consistently score below many of their international peers in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments.”  The authors assert that there needs to be a greater focus on skills and not just educational attainment.

    Standardized Assessment of College Learning: Past and Future

    The Lumina Foundation sponsored a white paper
    report by New America and higher education think tank.  The author examines the evolution, effectiveness and future context of large-scale standardized assessment in higher education.

    Rising Tide II: Do Black Student Benefit as Grad Rates Increase?

    The Education Trust issued a companion paper to Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students? The authors found “. . . that while a majority (almost 70 percent) of institutions we examined improved graduation rates for black students, those gains haven’t been large or fast enough to close gaps between black and white students. In fact, in many cases, these gaps have widened.”

    NMC Horizon Report 2016 Higher Education Edition

    The 13
    th edition of the higher education technology trends joint report by EDUCAUSE Learning Initiatives and NMC.  Both learning analytics/adaptive learning and the growing trend of students bringing their own device “(BYOD)” are “expected to be increasingly adopted by higher education institutions in one year’s time or less…” The report provides institutional examples of these technologies in practice.

    A Four-Letter Word – Using It to Avoid Bad Decisions

    Craig Stanford of Liaison International posted a
    LinkedIn Blog about the value of including an assessment of “risk” when higher education institutions are evaluating technology vendor proposals and other projects.  He makes a compelling argument that including an assessment of risk can change the results of the proposal evaluations.  His proposed evaluation formula is included here:

    (f - tco) / r = score
     (where f is Functionality, tco is Total Cost of Ownership and r is Risk)

  • AACRAO Eye on Research March 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Mar 10, 2016

    Included below are some insights gained from our most recent 60 Second Surveys. The full reports are posted to the research page. If you have any topics you wish to see addressed in the 60 Second Survey format, please send your ideas to Wendy Kilgore, Director of Research (wendyk@aacrao.org).

    FERPA training Practices – January 2016

    • Almost three-quarters require FERPA training for all new hires who work with student records.
    • One third require FERPA refresher training on a regular and recurring basis.
    • In-person training is the most common format.
    • Twenty-six percent (26%) provide FERPA training to parents, and most of that training is offered in person.
    • The registrar is the position most often primarily responsible for FERPA training.

    Curriculum Management Practices – February 2016

    • Less than 10% of respondents have a “stand-alone” curriculum office (i.e., an office that is a separate unit as compared to a function that is contained within another office or spread across multiple offices) and these offices typically employ 1-3 full-time-equivalent employees. 
    • About a third reported offering between 25-74 different academic programs (majors, minors, certificates, specializations, graduate programs).
    • Almost three-quarters use some type of technology to support the academic catalog.
    • Most only allow program/degree changes to be made effective just once per calendar year; less than half apply the same limitation to course changes.

    Building a SEM Analytics Reporting Portfolio

    The upcoming edition of SEMQ will include an AACRAO co-authored article designed to help college and university enrollment professionals initiate a SEM analytics reporting portfolio that focuses on shifting the attention of reporting systems from transactional data gathering to shared performance understandings.

    Upcoming AACRAO Research Initiatives

    The March 2016 60 Second Survey will take a look at the career paths of our members.  April’s will be a touch point update on Competency based education in cooperation with the Competency Based Education Network.  We are also wrapping up a joint project with Lexmark on electronic content management use and student records management practices.  The results of this project will be released at the annual conference in Phoenix.  Future research includes a focus on student success initiatives, a report on the career paths of directors of admissions mirroring the registrar and chief enrollment officer career path reports.  We are also working on developing a web-based assessment of the AACRAO admissions competencies and proficiencies. This assessment will be piloted as part of a workshop at the annual conference in Phoenix.

    Higher Education Research

    Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education – Feb. 1, 2016 Update

    The 2015 classification update was officially released on Feb. 1, 2016.  As summarized in the update, changes between the 2015 and 2010 additions include a change to the Basic classification specifically for Associate’s Colleges, new category labels for Doctoral Universities and others.

    Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Other and the Common Good through College Admissions

    The Harvard Making Caring Common Project released a report this January which asserts that the “college admissions process is powerfully positioned to send different messages that help young people become more generous and humane in ways that benefit not only society but student themselves”.  The report offers recommendations for reshaping the admissions process to address this position.

    Tracking Transfer: New Measures of Institutional and State Effectiveness in Helping Community Colleges Attain Bachelor’s Degrees

    The Aspen Institute and the Community College Research Center released a January 2016 report proposing “a common set of metrics” to measure the effectiveness of institutional initiatives to help community college student complete bachelor’s degrees.

    First Year Experience Courses for Students In Developmental Education

    A February 2015 U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) report from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) which determined that these programs “have no discernible effect” on the success of this student population.