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CONTACT: Shouping Hu, FSU College of Education
(850) 644-6721;

September 2016


Collaborating with the College of Education at Florida State University, the Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) successfully organized a symposium entitled “Increasing Momentum for Postsecondary Success” on September 26, 2016.

Three prominent scholars delivered keynote speeches on a wide range of issues related to student postsecondary success.

George Kuh, founding director for the National Survey of Student Engagement and the National Institute of Learning Outcomes Assessment, delivered the first speech entitled “Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter.”

Dr. Kuh emphasized the importance of “intentionality” in educational programming and practices, and suggested the importance of attention to students at critical transition points.

“Help students build connections with someone or something,” Kuh explained when discussing strategies to promote student success, and “help students see the value of their education!”

Kuh also discussed the importance of high-impact practices such as first-year seminars and experiences, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, writing-intensive courses, and collaborative assignments and projects, among others.

Jim Hearn, professor and associate director of the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia, explored the role of state policy in student success.

Hearn started his speech by outlining the broad policy environment for higher education and recent policy trends.

Hearn then examined the complexity of performance-based funding in postsecondary education. He critiqued the logic behind performance-based funding from both organizational and policy life cycle perspectives. He also shared his concerns about how performance-based funding may affect institutional innovation and public good.

Hearn urged campus leaders to “accept the legitimacy of reasonable state assertiveness.” He emphasized the importance of transparency and communication in developing policy initiatives for student success.

The executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy and James S. Riepe Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Laura Perna, delivered a speech on conducting research to improve equity in higher education attainment.

Perna underscored the importance of equity in higher education research. “The US cannot achieve required attainment without closing gaps,” Perna explained. She also suggested that changing demographics require higher education policy makers to pay attention to social, economic, and racial/ethnic equity in higher education attainment.

“To improve equity, we need to address the systemic and structural barriers that limit opportunity and outcomes,” Perna recommended.

Perna finally discussed issues on connecting research, policy, and practices, and the importance of researchers sharing findings that can be used by policy makers and practitioners.

A panel consisting of researchers within CPS offered insights on how to improve student postsecondary success based on their own research. Dr. Tamara Bertrand Jones shared her insights on socialization and Black women doctoral students. Dr. Brad Cox described the status of research on college students on the autism spectrum, and shared his plan for research on this student population. Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner examined issues of gender inequality in undergraduate science major participation in the United States and other countries. Dr. Toby Park presented his research on the role of minority serving institutions for the success for Black and Hispanic students.

The presentations of the keynote speakers are available here:

George Kuh: Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter

Jim Hearn: State Policy and Student Success

Laura Perna: Conducting Research to Improve Equity in Higher Education Attainment

The Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) is a research center at Florida State University dedicated to identifying and evaluating institutional, state, and federal policies and programs that may improve student success. One way the Center does this is by providing support for, and fostering collaboration among those who are interested in conducting research on student success in postsecondary education.


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