Sunday, January 31, 2016
What Will the Neighbors Say?
I'm wondering if this is a correlation or causation thing. I can entirely believe that students who are _able_ to take 15 credits a quarter. I imagine that if you've got a stable financial situation, a schedule that allows for lots of classes, the required personal maturity, etc, etc that you will graduate at a higher rate than those that don't. For example, you can't pull out all the stops to study for the big midterm if your boss calls you last minute and schedules 20 hours of work between now and the exam that's two days from now, etc.
So unless the original paper is actually making a claim that taking 15 credits causes the increased level of success then I think the smart money is that there's a third factor that leads to being able to take 15 credits a quarter AND ALSO leads to success overall.
Would you happen to have a citation for the paper? No worries if you don't, but it would be an interesting read.
I also thought of the correlation -v- causation fallacy, because I know that I didn't work 40 hours per week while in school. I didn't work at all. My job was to go to school, so it was no problem to finish in 4 years while working summers. And my course load in grad school, when I was working (but as a research or teaching assistant where I was also learning), was not very high so I know the difference.
That statistic I'd like to see is how many hours kids work while on Pell. I have no idea at all how that works out.
I'd also like to know whether any of those statistical studies start counting when students start taking real college-credit classes after finishing their developmental classes. It is pretty hard to earn 30 credits in your first year if most of the classes you are taking don't count.
The short version is here: http://blog.hawaii.edu/hawaiigradinitiative/files/2013/05/15tF_handout.pdf
More detail here: http://www.15tofinish.com/data.html
The CCRC took a more measured approach: http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/media/k2/attachments/redefining-full-time-in-college.pdf
But they still noted, "The fact that enrolling in 15 credits in the absence of incentives or supportive policies
can have a positive impact on completion for less academically prepared students reinforces
the use of 15-credit strategies to encourage students to enroll in 15 credits per semester."
And yeah, I used to be responsible for implementing the 15 to Finish initiatives in my state, so I have a stake in this research. We found that students and parents just didn't know that 12=5 and that could end up costing them a whole lot more money. One of Hawaii's biggest success (IMO) was changing the conversation so that even students who couldn't take 15 credits/semester still knew that was how many they needed to take to graduate in four years.
To address CCPhysicist's good point, our institutions didn't track graduation rates past 200%, so while students might be graduating and just taking more time, we didn't know. In the public sector, that's a hard argument to make to the legislature (i.e., the funders) and the general population. The developmental credits is a real problem, and CCA is looking at grad rates of students who took remediation. In our state, we found that students who enrolled in any math their first year (including developmental math) were more likely to finish college-level math and thus graduate. If they avoided math, their odds of graduating dropped.
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