Assistant Professor Di Xu is lead author of an article in Educational Researcher: "EASEing Students Into College: The Impact of Multidimensional Support for Underprepared Students." Co-authors are PhD students Sabrina Solanki and Peter McPartlan and Associate Teaching Professor Brian Sato.
Extensive theoretical literature and qualitative evidence nominate learning communities as a promising strategy to improve persistence and success among at-risk populations, such as students who are academically underprepared for college-level coursework. Yet rigorous quantitative evidence on the impacts of these programs is limited. This paper estimates the causal effects of a first-year STEM learning communities program on both cognitive and noncognitive outcomes at a large public 4-year institution. We use a regression discontinuity design based on the fact that students are assigned to the program if their math SAT score is below a threshold. Our results indicate that program participation increased the academic performance and sense of belonging for students around the cutoff. These results provide compelling evidence that learning communities can support at-risk populations when implemented with a high level of fidelity.
Xu, D., Solanki, S., McPartlan, P., & Sato, B. (2018). EASEing students Into college: The impact of multidimensional support for underprepared students. Educational Researcher. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X18778559