Grant will fund UIA study of advising for low-income, first-generation students

The University Innovation Alliance, of which Iowa State is a founding member, has been awarded $8.9 million to evaluate the effectiveness of academic advising in increasing retention, progression and graduation rates for low-income and first-generation students.

The U.S. Department of Education selected Georgia State University (on behalf of the UIA) for the grant through its First in the World competition, which encourages innovation among institutions of higher education. The grant will fund a four-year study of 10,000 students on UIA's 11 member campuses, who are exposed to an intensive menu of advising services. Through quantitative and qualitative research and analysis, the study will examine the benefits of introducing systematic, proactive advising, especially for at-risk students.

Students will be selected by random assignment and will receive, in addition to advising services typically offered:

  • Intensive, proactive advisement to help them establish individualized academic maps
  • Real-time alerts prompted by a system of analytics-based tracking when they may be struggling
  • Timely, targeted advising interventions to get them back on the appropriate academic path

The project is called MAAPS, or Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success. If the project is successful in improving student outcomes, the long-term goal will be to scale the advising interventions for all of the more than 380,000 students enrolled in UIA institutions.

Iowa State's portion of the grant is $710,000. The funds will be used to increase the university's advising capacity to accomplish the project goals. University Professor Steve Freeman, faculty adviser to ISU President Steven Leath, says two new, full-time advising positions will be secured, as well as a half-time data analyst to assist in documenting project outcomes.

UIA was formed in September 2014 when 11 public research universities joined together to expand the use of highly successful, innovative programs designed to help more students complete a college education.

In addition to Iowa State, the UIA includes:

  • Arizona State University
  • Ohio State University
  • Georgia State University
  • Michigan State University
  • Oregon State University
  • Purdue University
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Texas at Austin

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