The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education

The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education conducts and disseminates research and policy analysis to encourage policymakers, educators, and the public to improve educational opportunities and outcomes of low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities. The Pell Institute is sponsored by the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). The Pell Institute shares the mission of the Council to advance and defend the ideal of equal educational opportunity in postsecondary education. As such, the focus of the Council is assuring that the least advantaged segments of the American population have a realistic chance to enter and graduate from a postsecondary institution.


Collaboration Co-Chairs:

  • Maggie Cahalan, Vice President for Research, COE and Director Pell Institute for Study of Opportunity in Higher Education

  • Heather Rowan-Kenyon, Boston College

ASHE 2014 Conference Working Group attendees:

  • Paul Beasley, Director of TRIO Programs, University of South Carolina

  • Angela Bell, Senior Executive Director for Research, Policy and Analysis for the University System of Georgia

  • Oscar Felix, C Associate Vice President for Diversity, Enrollment and Access; Executive Director of the Access Center, Colorado State University

  • Khadish Franklin, Associate Director, Pell Institute

  • Ezekiel Kimball, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

  • Joey Kitchen, The Ohio State University

  • Judy Marquez Kiyama, University of Denver

  • Christopher Mullin, Executive Vice Chancellor at The Florida College System

  • Brittany Ross, Research and Program Assistant, Pell Institute

  • Terrell Strayhorn, The Ohio State University

  • Kristan Venegas, University of Southern California

  • Ryan Wells, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

  • Mika Yamashita, Senior Researcher and Data Analyst, Pell Institute


Goals of the Collaboration

In support of the 2015 ASHE Conference theme, “Inequality in Higher Education,” the collaborative effort is focused on linking research on the role of TRIO programs in increasing college access and attainment. In particular, we are focused on how researchers and TRIO practitioners can best work together to inform one another and promote better outcomes for students. Some of the primary themes that emerged from our ASHE 2014 meeting include:

  • How do we know what works, when, in what context, and for which students?

  • What are the What Works Clearinghouse challenges in use and practitioner accessibility?

  • How do we bring together external and internal evaluators to promote internal program improvement and external program evaluation?

  • What are the implications and challenges of the movement to embed research within the on-going delivery of services, with increased use of data and evaluation tools by practitioners in everyday management of the their programs?

  • How to build relationships and trust between researchers and practitioners?

  • How to obtain access to data that would be most helpful in improving practice?

  • How to map the terrain of practitioner knowledge

  • What are the political dimensions of TRIO and its relationship with research and practice?

  • How can researchers understanding TRIO programs from the perspective of the practitioner and vice versa?

Planned “deliverables” for the collaboration

We are planning to create a publication titled Reflections on Connecting Research and Practice in College Access and Success Programs. This essay collection will be comprised of individually or co-authored essays based on a topic related to the key themes that emerged from our November conversation.

An on-line survey of TRIO project directors is being drafted to map the landscape of practitioner use of data and evaluation, issues of collaboration between practitioners and academics and contractors--- and to some extent try to map the substantive knowledge base of practitioners. 
Our final product will be a White Paper to will tie together review of the current knowledge surrounding research and practice, findings from our survey, and recommendations to further connection research and practice in TRIO programs.

Key collaboration activities 

Working group attendees and other practitioners and scholars are being invited to write a Reflections piece that will be focused on a practitioner audience.

Working group members will also have the opportunity to provide feedback on the survey before it is disseminated and to assist in interpreting the findings and conclusions.

Vision for ASHE’s role in the research-and-practice/policy process following the November 2015 conference

We hope to see this collaboration be the catalyst for future work pairing practitioners and researchers to be able to produce work that has an influence on current practice in the field. One aspect of this could be a collaboration with the newly forming College Access and Success Research and Evaluation Community of Practice that COE is helping to facilitate. Some formal collaborations could take place with the academic research community –perhaps holding a joint seminar meeting co-sponsored by ASHE and COE.