PAS is part of the Center for Postsecondary Research (CPR) at Indiana University
Practice- and policy-oriented research on opportunity and equity in postsecondary education and on the multiple pathways of 21st century students toward postsecondary academic success and employment

Research on Academic Success

College Student Success

  • About PAS

  • The PAS Team

    • Current Team
    • Affiliated Scholars
  • Current Research Projects

    • Enrollment Trends (National Student Clearinghouse Signature Reports)
    • Leading to Completion
    • Faculty Vitality Survey (Indiana University School of Medicine)
    • Departmental 360 Survey (Indiana University School of Medicine)
    • Evaluation of the Millennium Leadership Institute (MLI)
  • Past Conference Papers

  • Topical Resources

    • Student Financial Aid
    • Enhancing Student Success
    • Research Methods

Contact Us

Email is likely to be the most efficient way to reach us, and we can use e-mail to arrange follow-up phone conversations.

Victor M. H. Borden
Director, PAS

Phoebe Khasiala Wakhungu
Project Manager, PAS

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

Topical Resources

Student Financial Aid

Student Aid and Its Role in Encouraging Persistence
Don Hossler, Mary Ziskin, Jacob Gross, Sooyeon Kim, & Osman Cekic
Published by Springer in Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Vol. 24, and available at the SpringerLink online database at:

To synthesize current understandings of how financial aid affects undergraduate persistence and graduation, the authors conducted an extensive review of studies published since 1990 in this area. They identify how the studies were conducted as well as the summative knowledge from them of the effects of grants and loans on persistence and graduation; the specific effects on persistence and graduation of merit aid, loans, and programmatic elements; and the effects of debt on student success outcomes.


Institutional Aid and Student Persistence: An Analysis of the Effects of Campus-Based Financial Aid at Public Four-Year Institutions
Jacob P.K. Gross, Don Hossler, & Mary Ziskin
Published in the NASFAA Journal of Student Financial Aid.

Although billions of dollars are disbursed each year in institutional aid, much of the research to date on student persistence does not consider such aid. The authors of this study used a statewide student unit record database to examine the effects of institutional financial aid on year-to-year persistence among first-time, first-year students at three large doctorate-granting public universities.


Enhancing Student Success

Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Patterns, Predictions, and Implications for Informing Policy Discussions
Vasti Torres & Desiree Zerquera
This article seeks to identify and assess the readiness of potential Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs)—institutions located within Latino communities projected to increase the number of Latino/a high school graduates. Institutions are described based on evaluation of institutional missions, planning documents, programs, and marketing strategies—resulting in three institutional categories: unaware, aware, and committed institutions.

An Examination of Institutional Practices Surrounding Student Retention (paper)(PowerPoint slides)
Afet Dadashova, Mary Ziskin, & Don Hossler
2010 ASHE Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN

Reports results of a national survey conducted by the College Board Study on Student Retention showing the scope and specific forms of the policies and practices four-year colleges and universities devote to improving student retention and shedding light on which of these policies and practices are associated with student retention.


Faculty and Practitioners' Views of Working, Commuting Students: Aligning Perspectives for Academic Success (paper)(PowerPoint slides)
Mary Ziskin, Desiree Zerquera, & Vasti Torres
2010 ASHE Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN

Reports findings from interviews and focus groups at three postsecondary institutions in metropolitan northwest Indiana examining faculty and practitioner perceptions of the experiences of working students and of the roles of faculty and practitioners and institutional policies and practices in the academic success of working, commuting students.


The Study of Institutional Practices Related to Student Persistence
Mary Ziskin, Don Hossler, & Sooyeon Kim
Published in the Journal of College Student Retention

Using literature and illustrations drawn from a pilot study of institutional policies and practices surrounding student retention, the authors explore the theoretical and methodological challenges entailed in the study of student retention. The discussion centers on two efforts to expand the theoretical base and scope for research in this area: one argues that colleges and universities are optimizers of cultural capital and the other critiques the narrowness of the frames that predominate student retention research.


How Colleges Organize Themselves to Increase Student Persistence: Four-Year Institutions
Published by the College Board and available at the College Board Advocacy website at:

Most of the relevant research on this crucial issue has focused on the role of student characteristics and experience in persistence and graduation. This study examines the critical role of institutional policies and practices in student persistence and graduation and how that role develops and is enacted in institutions' efforts to boost these measures of student success.

How Colleges Organize Themselves to Increase Student Persistence: Four-Year Institutions
is highlighted in a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education: "A Full-Time Focus on Retention in New Orleans":


Enhancing Institutional and State Initiatives to Increase Student Success: Studies of the Indiana Project on Academic Success. Readings on Equal Education, Vol. 24
Edited by Don Hossler, Jacob P.K. Gross, & Mary Ziskin, with commentary from series editor, Edward P. St. John, who developed the IPAS model and was the project's founding director.
Available for order from AMS Press, Inc., at

This volume in the Readings on Equal Education series discusses the research and program evaluation activities of the Indiana Project on Academic Success (IPAS), a collaborative effort with postsecondary institutions that used action research to identify and evaluate interventions to enhance student success and that developed and employed a state student information database to facilitate education research and to inform campus- and state-level decision making. The authors reflect on lessons learned from the IPAS initiative and examine its impact on participating institutions and individuals.


Getting Serious About Institutional Performance in Student Retention: Research-Based Lessons on Effective Policies and Practices
Don Hossler, Mary Ziskin, & Jacob P.K. Gross
Published in the journal About Campus

Drawing on their experiences in and findings from two distinct but complementary research projects that focus on institutional efforts to enhance student persistence and graduation, the Indiana Project on Academic Success and the College Board Study on Student Retention, the authors share their growing understanding of how institutions organize themselves to enhance student persistence and the extent and effectiveness of those efforts. This article can contribute to the ongoing discussion among scholars and practitioners around the country about how to increase persistence and graduation and, by extension, to improve student learning.


Influence of an Identified Advisor/Mentor on Urban Latino Students' College Experience
Vasti Torres & Ebelia Hernandez
Published in the Journal of College Student Retention

With longitudinal data from Latino students at three urban universities, the authors use T-tests to compare the scale means between students that have identified an advisor or mentor and students that have not identified one. Results indicate consistently higher levels of institutional commitment, satisfaction with faculty, academic integration, cultural affinity, and encouragement among students with an advisor/mentor.


Research Methods

The Tuning Process in One Tuning USA Pilot State (handout)
Mary Ziskin, Indiana University; Haley Glover, Lumina Foundation for Education; Ken Sauer, Indiana Commission for Higher Education; & Afet Dadashova, Indiana University 2010 Ashe Annual Conference, Indianapolis,

A roundtable discussion on the Tuning Process, a consensus-based mechanism for making postsecondary education programs comparable, compatible, and transparent across contexts, and on the Tuning USA pilot study conducted in Indiana, Minnesota, and Utah.

Ignoring It Doesn't Make It Go Away: Addressing Issues of Missing Data in Institutional Research
Jacob P.K. Gross, Afet Dadashova, John Moore, & Mary Ziskin
2009 AIR Annual Forum, Atlanta, GA

Following a discussion of the persistent issues related to missing data in statistical research, the various types of missing data, and the strategies for dealing with missing data, this presentation outlines the design, results, recommendations, and statistical implications of a study that used expectation maximization (EM) algorithm imputation as a strategy for addressing missing data.