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(DALLAS) — The Research Institute at Dallas College is partnering with the University of Texas at Dallas’ Texas Schools Project (TSP) to conduct research on students’ education-to-workforce pathways and how institutions can best support equitable, high returns on investment in a college education.
Capitalizing on the expertise of both groups, the partnership leverages the Research Institute’s unique position within Texas’ largest community college and extensive data held by the TSP.
Founded in 2021, within Dallas College’s Student Success Division, the Research Institute gives voice to the postsecondary education needs of the Dallas College community and North Texas. The institute helps evaluate access to education, the factors affecting it and its impact on social and economic mobility. Specific areas of research include regional educational attainment, student debt and return on investment (ROI), dual credit and college completion rates, and long-term academic and workforce outcomes, some of which are detailed in an earlier release .
Housed within the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, TSP supports and conducts high-quality research to improve academic achievement and teacher effectiveness, increase transitions to and success in postsecondary education, and improve labor market outcomes of students in Texas and the nation.
Together, the Research Institute and TSP will conduct more robust quantitative research as well as qualitative research through dialogue with students and alumni, faculty, staff and administrators. The end results will inform strategic decisions for leadership at two-year and four-year institutions across the state.
Dr. Trey Miller, TSP director and UT Dallas associate professor of economics, explains, "This partnership supports our mission to conduct research to improve education policy and practice in the state of Texas. By working directly with our partners at the Research Institute to identify some of Dallas College’s most pressing challenges, and working collaboratively to build rigorous research studies to help address those challenges head-on, we are able to move the needle on our primary mission to improve education for students in Texas.”
To engage in such comprehensive analysis, researchers will supplement internal Dallas College data with external data, specifically from the University of Texas at Dallas Education Research Center (ERC). The ERC houses select data from the Texas Workforce Commission, National Student Clearinghouse, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Education Agency as well as from partner independent school districts in the Dallas College service area.
A cornerstone of the Research Institute’s 2022-2023 research agenda is a longitudinal study of Dallas-area student outcomes eight years after high school graduation. The primary objective of the study is to better support students at key transition points from K-12 to postsecondary education to their careers. Preliminary findings show that about 40% of DFW area high school graduates earn a postsecondary credential within eight years, which greatly contributes to their ability to earn a livable wage and gain economic security. This is especially true for those who go on to earn a bachelor’s degree. Average wages for bachelor’s degree holders are $54,224, compared with $35,233 for those with a high school diploma alone. (These findings can be explored further through this interactive dashboard. )
While many institutions across the country may engage with their states’ holdings through data requests, most states do not reciprocate with true research collaborations. Therefore, even with robust data systems, community college leaders and researchers are often unable to access the extensive resources required for specific, actionable findings. Collaboration between researchers from the Research Institute at Dallas College and TSP will guide methods and analysis and allow both entities to clearly communicate actionable research results to education leaders.
"It is never simple to assess students’ needs, both academic and personal, and whether those needs were met,” explains Dr. David Mahan, founding executive director of the Research Institute at Dallas College. "It takes a longitudinal assessment to determine a student’s objectives and preparation before matriculating in postsecondary. The ERC holdings provide a more holistic look at the students we serve.”
Beyond the current project, this strategic partnership creates ongoing relationships among education researchers and among K-12 districts, community colleges and universities — all leading to improved student outcomes and better serving the local and regional community.
This press release was produced by Dallas College . The views expressed here are the author's own.
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