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Evaluating Online Instruction
CIC Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction II

Since 2014, the Council of Independent Colleges, with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has organized a consortium of faculty and administrators from its member institutions who design and teach online courses in humanities. The members of the Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction first offer the course to students from their own institutions and then to students from any of the Consortium institutions. The second two-year Consortium cohort just completed its first year of work, designing and teaching courses for students from their own institutions. From the beginning of the project, Ithaka S+R has provided technical support and…


Alternative Postsecondary Pathways

Millions of Americans receive postsecondary training through programs that don’t lead to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. What do these programs offer?  Who enrolls in them?  How do the students who complete these programs fare? These are some of the questions Jessie Brown and I sought to answer when we embarked on a research project for the Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The resulting paper, “The Complex Universe of Alternative Postsecondary Credentials and Pathways,” has now been published on the Academy’s website. We share the press release about the report below…


How to Assure Quality in Higher Education?
Focus on Innovation, Minimum Standards, and Continuous Improvement

The U.S. quality assurance system—focused mainly on accreditation as a threshold for federal financial aid eligibility—has done a poor job of assuring quality. Barely 60 percent of first-time students complete a bachelor’s degree and 40 percent complete an associate’s degree at the institution where they started. These overall results mask a wide range of outcomes across institutions. As a result, many students, parents, and policymakers question the value of their massive investment in postsecondary education. Can the accreditation process be improved? Or do we need a fundamentally different system? Our new Ithaka S+R report argues that with some modest but…


Can an Investment in Instruction Improve a College’s Bottom Line?

Colleges and universities are under increasing pressure to simultaneously cut costs and improve student learning outcomes. There is a perceived tension between these goals: the conventional wisdom is that increasing instructional quality is not possible without increasing expenditures, but colleges and universities have limited resources to spend on improving instructional quality. But what if the relationship between institutional finances and instructional quality were more complex than that? In Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes, and Institutional Finances, a new white paper commissioned by the American Council on Education, Jessie Brown and I explore the question of whether improvements in instructional quality can…


Finding Funds to Support Student Access and Success
Ithaka S+R’s First Strategy Paper for the American Talent Initiative

There is ample evidence that low- and moderate-income students with the talent to earn admission thrive at top institutions when their financial needs are met, and graduate at higher rates than they do at less competitive schools. Yet, most top-performing colleges and universities consider students’ ability to pay in admissions decisions, at times accepting less talented full-pay students in order to meet revenue targets. For those lower-income applicants who are admitted, many institutions struggle to meet their full financial need. With finite budgets and multiple priorities, institutions limit the funds they allocate to need-based aid and other programs that support…