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NCPR participated in the following sessions at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) 2009 Annual Conference:


Using Random Assignment Designs to Test Postsecondary Success Strategies for Underprepared Students

A random assignment study (also called a social experiment) uses a lottery-like process to allocate people to the two or more groups whose behaviors (outcomes) are subsequently compared to determine the program’s net impact.  Increasingly these studies, often considered the “gold standard” in social science research, are being used to document the effectiveness of postsecondary success strategies.  An increasing number of these methodological studies are focused on the success strategies for under-prepared and/or low-income students ---students who possess the greatest barriers in postsecondary education.  This symposium shared what we are learning from various random assignment studies with a focus on the strength of their methodological designs and how they are being implemented in higher education settings. Panelists in the session: 1) shared methods (and results where appropriate) of research projects that have been undertaken to shed light on how random assignment designs have been used to test postsecondary success strategies, 2) discussed the varied research questions and methodological approaches used by the panelists and 3) highlighted the state of random assignment research on postsecondary success and next steps for future research directions.

November 7, 2009, 4:45PM-6:15PM

Galiana Room, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre
Session L: Using Random Assignment Designs to Test Postsecondary Success Strategies for Underprepared Students


Heather D. Wathington/University of Virginia
Thomas R. Bailey/Teachers College
Sarah Turner/University of Virginia
Joshua Pretlow/University of Virginia
Elisabeth Barnett/Teachers College, Columbia University
Susan Scrivener/MDRC

>>Download the PDF of the presentation, "Learning Communities Demonstration: Understanding Programs Designed for Student Success," given by Heather Wathington.

>>Download the PDF of the presentation, "The Opening Doors Demonstration: A Random Assignment Study," given by Susan Scrivener.

>>Download the PDF of the presentation, "Using a random assignment design to assess Texas summer bridge programs," given by Elisabeth Barnett and Joshua Pretlow.

Does Remediation Work for All Students?: The Impact of Remedial and Developmental Courses on Students with Different Levels of Academic Preparation

Each year, thousands of American students enter postsecondary institutions unprepared for college-level work.  In an effort to bring these students up to the level necessary for college coursework while also acknowledging their varying levels of academic preparation, institutions offer different levels of reading, writing, and mathematics courses.  Several recent studies have examined such remedial or developmental programs by comparing students just above and below the placement cutoff to provide a causal estimate of the effects of taking the courses.  However, such studies focus exclusively on students who need just one or two remediation classes, and the estimates should not be extrapolated to students with academic skills so weak that they score significantly below the cutoff point.  This study builds on this past research to examine the impact of such courses on students at multiple points of the preparation distribution.  Using longitudinal data from the state of Tennessee, we are able to isolate the effects of placement into varying levels of mathematics courses for a cohort of students attending four- and two-year public colleges and universities.  This is possible due to the state's multi-tiered system in which students could be assigned into remedial, developmental, or college-level courses.  This more refined level of examination allows for a deeper analysis into the effects of remediation on a diverse set of students.  Using enrollment information for over 20,000 students, we employ regression discontinuity techniques to provide causal estimates of the effects of remedial and developmental courses on student outcomes such as persistence.  As such, we contribute information about the impact of remediation in a new context and for students of varying preparation levels.

November 7, 2009, 1:15PM-2:45PM

Location: Port McNeill Room, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre
Session J: Tailoring Developmental Coursework to Meet Student Needs


Angela Boatman/Harvard University

>>Download the PDF of the presentation, "Does Remediation Work for All Students?: The Impact of Remedial and Developmental Courses on Students with Different Levels of Academic Preparation"

NCPR Open Reception at ASHE 2009

On Friday, November 6, 2009, the National Center for Postsecondary Research (NCPR) held an open reception at the 2009 ASHE Conference. Colleagues and friends enjoyed a casual reception including drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

November 6, 7:00PM-8:30PM

Location:  Pavilion Ballroom D, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre


Type: Conferences & Seminars

Location: Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center, Vancouver, BC

Date & Time: From 11/6/2009, 7:00:00 AM To 11/7/2009, 6:15:00 PM