Improving Teaching: Strengthening the College Learning Experience

Improving Teaching: Strengthening the College Learning Experience. Daedalus. Fall 2019.

An odd feature of the public policy discussion of higher education is the near absence of attention to the quality of teaching. In contrast to K–12, where such conversations are prominent, all agree, teachers and teaching matter. Yet questions about what and how much students are learning and how their learning is related to the quality of instruction they receive tend to take a back seat in postsecondary education.

The Fall 2019 issue of Daedalus, “Improving Teaching: Strengthening the College Learning Experience,” addresses that imbalance with a focus on “what goes on inside the ‘black box’ of teaching and learning that college students actually experience.” This issue of Daedalus advances the first national priority set forth by the American Academy’s Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education: improving the student educational experience. While ensuring widespread access to affordable college education is vital, as the inconsistent outcomes of today’s students suggest, getting people into college and through their programs is not enough. We have to understand more about how students learn, about how to develop and support effective teaching at the college level, and about how to ensure that we are truly educating students, not just providing them with credentials. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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U.S. Research and Development Funding and Performance: Fact Sheet

U.S. Research and Development Funding and Performance: Fact Sheet.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. John F. Sargent Jr. June 29, 2018

 Research and development (R&D) in the United States is funded and performed by a number of sectors—including the federal government, state governments, businesses, academia, and nonprofit organizations—for a variety of purposes. This fact sheet begins by providing a profile of the U.S. R&D enterprise, including historical trends and current funding by sector and by whether the R&D is basic research, applied research, or development. The final section of this fact sheet includes data on R&D performance by sector.

 [PDF format, 5 pages].

Programs for Minority-Serving Institutions Under the Higher Education Act

Programs for Minority-Serving Institutions Under the Higher Education Act. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Alexandra Hegji. September 12, 2017

Minority-serving institutions (MSIs) are institutions of higher education that serve high concentrations of minority students who, historically, have been underrepresented in higher education. Many MSIs have faced challenges in securing adequate financial support, thus affecting their ability to develop and enhance their academic offerings and ultimately serve their students. Federal higher education policy recognizes the importance of such institutions and targets financial resources to them. Funding for MSIs is channeled through numerous federal agencies, and several of these funding sources are available to MSIs through grant programs authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA; P.L. 89-329). Over the years, HEA programs that support MSIs have expanded and now include programs for institutions serving a wide variety of student populations. In FY2016, MSI programs under the HEA were appropriated approximately $817 million, which helped fund more than 929 grants to institutions.

[PDF format, 52 pages, 954.26 KB].

How Governments Support Higher Education Through the Tax Code

How Governments Support Higher Education Through the Tax Code. Pew Charitable Trusts. Fiscal Federalism Initiative. February 22, 2017

To maximize the impact of higher education investments and achieve desired policy goals, policymakers should have knowledge of the full range of assistance provided to institutions and students. This means having an understanding of the billions of dollars made available through spending programs and the tax code. However, too frequently these two types of support are not considered in tandem, and most states lack the cost estimates they would need to determine how tax provisions for higher education compare in size to other postsecondary investments. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 39 pages, 653.11 KB].

Should Policymakers Make College Free or Better Support Institutions?

Should Policymakers Make College Free or Better Support Institutions? Brookings Institution. Matthew M. Chingos. November 3, 2016

Making public higher education tuition-free has gone from a fringe idea to the platform of the Democratic Party in a short period of time. President Obama proposed making community college free in early 2015. Hillary Clinton has augmented that proposal to include four-year colleges for families making up to $125,000. Many Democrats will push for federal action to make college free when the new Congress convenes in 2017. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Scoring the College Scorecard: What’s Good and What Needs Improvement

Scoring the College Scorecard: What’s Good and What Needs Improvement. Center for American Progress. Ben Miller. February 16, 2016.

The word “voluminous” does not even begin to describe the College Scorecard. The new tool to help students and their families choose institutions of higher education, released by the U.S. Department of Education in September 2015, contains 1,700 variables about more than 7,000 colleges across 18 years of data from 1996 to 2013. It is almost certainly the largest release ever of higher education data. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 34 pages, 713.5 KB].

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education. RAND Corporation. Lois M. Davis et al. July 2015.

After conducting a comprehensive literature search, the authors examine the association between correctional education and reductions in recidivism, improvements in employment after release from prison, and learning in math and in reading. Their findings support the premise that receiving correctional education while incarcerated reduces an individual’s risk of recidivating. They also found that those receiving correctional education had improved odds of obtaining employment after release. The authors also examined the benefits of computer-assisted learning and compared the costs of prison education programs with the costs of reincarceration. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 113 pages, 0.9 MB].

The Big Sort: College Reputation and Labor Market Outcomes

The Big Sort: College Reputation and Labor Market Outcomes. National Bureau of Economic Research. W. Bentley MacLeod et al. Web posted July 2, 2015.

The authors find that the reputation of a college is correlated with their graduates’ earnings growth. They interpret this finding in a setting in which individuals choose colleges based on their reputations, and in which a school’s reputation in turn provides information about its students’ abilities and about its value added. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 73 pages, 1.09 MB].

Planning for Higher Education Programs: Effectively Using Data and Modeling to Understand Workforce Needs

Planning for Higher Education Programs: Effectively Using Data and Modeling to Understand Workforce Needs. RAND Corporation. Charles A. Goldman et al. April 23, 2015.

Workforce data sources provide valuable information, though no source should be used on its own. The information should be used to manage new and ongoing degree programs and for periodic strategic planning, according to the authors. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 4 pages, 97.96 KB].

Income-based Inequality in Educational Outcomes

Income-based Inequality in Educational Outcomes. National Bureau of Economic Research. John P. Papay et al. Web posted January 30, 2015.

The authors document large income-based gaps in educational attainments, including high-school graduation rates and college-going. They also show that income-related gaps in both educational credentials and academic skill have narrowed substantially over the past several years in Massachusetts. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 44 pages, 1.47 MB].