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Researchers

Thank you for visiting the Researchers' Room of the National Center for Postsecondary Improvement! Following is a list of our Center's major research themes:

Organizational Improvement

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Postsecondary organizations need to respond to a wide range of contemporary environmental pressures, including demands to improve access and quality, reduce costs, and establish better mechanisms for accountability. Theory-based and driven by empirical goals, this research projectís objective is to determine exemplary reorganization patterns of public universities and colleges as they position themselves academically to meet contemporary environmental pressures in a way that is consonant with their missions.

Student Transitions

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This project examines the context and paths that young people follow as they move from initial education to working life, often combining the two. Through a series of interrelated studies, the projectís inquiry is based on the notion that these transitions are governed by access to educational opportunity, on the one hand, and access to productive employment on the other. Such transitions are influenced by the nature of schools and schooling, by the nature of the economy, and by the labor market.

Postsecondary Markets and Student Outcomes

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This research project investigates how a studentís participation in postsecondary education helps shape subsequent academic achievement and employment outcomes. The research documented the structure of the market for postsecondary education, including its historical context and the role that cost and discounting play in framing institutional strategies and student choices. The project builds on the market model to gauge the impact an individual institution has had on the subsequent lives of its graduates in order to help campuses, students, and parents measure the contributions institutions have made to the academic and employment outcomes of their graduates, and to better understand students and their needs.

Professional Development

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This project investigates the effectiveness of professional development initiatives and their potential to improve student learning. This research seeks to extend to postsecondary institutions the lessons researchers learned regarding successful teacher development in the K-12 and higher education teaching arenas. The project includes research on the improvement of postsecondary pedagogy, innovative teacher education efforts within community colleges, and accelerating the education of remedial students in postsecondary education.

Student Learning and Assessment

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The project examines student assessment strategies and reform efforts from three perspectives: external accreditation and state level governance, institutional policies and practice, and academic programs and departments. Researchers seek to understand how the coexistence of the policies and practices at each level affect student development and outcomes in order to use assessment practices as a tool for improving teaching and learning in colleges and universities.

Quality, Productivity, and Efficiency

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This research activity explores how the environment within academic departments and similar organizational units can be transformed to enable and drive the kinds of change needed to improve undergraduate educational quality, redress the teaching-research balance, utilize information technology in effective ways, and improve cost efficiency. The intent is to understand what works in quality assurance within each specific environment, to test tentative answers to these questions, and to translate these conceptual advancements into operationally meaningful programs that can be used by institutions and faculty.


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