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Bridges, Maps, and Fare

How Underrepresented Students Use Educational Equity Programs to Access Routes to Engagement and Academic Success

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Don Hossler

Phoebe Khasiala Wakhungu
Project Manager

Project on Academic Success
1900 E. Tenth Street
Eigenmann Hall
Suite 630
Bloomington, IN 47406-7512

Project on Academic Success

The Spencer Foundation

Indiana University

The Spencer Study on Educational Equity Programs explores the movement of students through educational systems in the state of Indiana and the effects of public policy on students’ postsecondary participation and academic success. Much in the same way that moving through a city is conditioned by the city’s transportation infrastructure, the structure and context of an educational system conditions how students move through it.

To capture the many dimensions of student movement, our researchers are compiling a rich, longitudinal data set from a statewide student-level database and National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE) data. Employing a variety of analytic strategies will enable us to draw specific conclusions—for example, regarding the efficacy and reach of financial aid programs and innovations in statewide secondary degree requirements or the effects of changing transfer policies on student engagement and postsecondary degree attainment.

This research effort provides a uniquely promising opportunity to examine how low-income students, first-generation students, and students of color utilize postsecondary educational “transportation” systems and how these systems influence access, engagement, persistence, and degree attainment. This study will help answer key policy questions surrounding postsecondary access and attainment in Indiana, with implications for other states and for the nation.