Weekly Research Digest, 11-22-13

A snapshot of recently released research, reports, surveys, and other findings within the postsecondary education field.


Degree Attainment Snapshot Report
National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Fall 2013

The 19 percent growth of bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering between 2009 and 2013 outpaced the nine percent increase in all other bachelor’s degrees according to this report from the National Student Clearinghouse. Another key finding is that the percentage increase in the attainment of bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering by students over the age of 26 (25 percent) was higher than their traditional-aged students 26 years of age or younger (19 percent).  Similarly, the percentage growth of bachelor’s degrees in other fields was higher for older students than traditional-aged students, 17 percent compared to six percent.

In The News
The Chronicle of Higher Education - "Science and Engineering Degrees On The Rise"

Working Hard for the Degree: An Event History Analysis of the Impact of Working While Simultaneously Enrolled
Florida State University, 2013

This study examines the impact of working while attending college on college success. The methodology used is called event history analysis, which not only includes information about an event but when it occurred, such as whether a student stopped and restarted attending college and degree attainment or graduation. 

Major findings:

  • Work less and study more.
  • For every percent increase in wages, there was a four percent decrease in the likelihood of completing a degree. 
In the News
Inside Higher Ed - "Third Try Isn't The Charm"

Attitudes on Innovation: How College Leaders and Faculty See the Key Issues Facing Higher Education
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2013

Higher education leaders and faculty at 1,370 institutions, representing all sectors, were surveyed on the issues facing higher education.
Key findings: 

  • 64 percent of college and university presidents reported that the overall higher education system in the United States is going in the right direction. Only 34 percent of faculty held the same view (half said it was going in the wrong direction).
  • Presidents were more likely than faculty to say that the U.S. higher education system was the best in the world.
  • Presidents were more likely than faculty to perceive that in ten years-time the U.S. higher education system will be the best in the world.
  • Presidents were more likely to view favorably the job that the U.S. higher education system is doing at providing value for the money spent by students and families.
  • The two groups had more agreement about the degree of change in American higher education needs to undergo in the next ten years. Areas of agreement included:
  • Massive or a moderate amount of disruption is needed in higher education
  • The top three innovations that will have the most positive impact on American higher education in the future: 
    • hybrid courses
    • adaptive learning to personalize education
    • technology that increases interactions among students



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PSCUs open doors to many of the 9 million unemployed and 90 million undereducated Americans by providing a skills-based education. To remain competitive over the next decade, we must identify between 8 and 23 million new workers with postsecondary skills. PSCUs are a necessary part of that solution, having produced over 800,000 degrees last year alone.